Book review “Black Box” –The Revealed Shame of Japan–

The Brave Accusation: “Black Box”

“How are rape crimes committed?”

“What kind of physical and mental wounds do victims of rape suffer?”

“What impact does the crime have on the life of the victim?”

“Do institutions dedicated to assisting victims function appropriately?”

“Can investigative agencies and the justice system punish the perpetrators?”

“Does Japanese society have mechanisms to prevent recurrence?”

This time, I introduce a book that answers these questions.

The journalist behind it is Shiori Ito, and the book is titled “Black Box.”

Black Box: The Memoir That Sparked Japans #metoo Movement

There exists grin-and-bear-it situation for victims in Japan

In Japan where vulnerable victims, including women, are forced to endure silently, reporting rape incidents remains a rare occurrence.

Many victims carry the burden alone, living in a state where their souls have been crushed.

Even if they summon the courage to seek help, they often don’t know where to turn.

Going to the hospital may result in a lack of empathetic support for the victim, and the preservation of evidence and examinations may be inadequate.

Upon approaching the police, victims may find themselves surrounded by male officers who subject them to blame and humiliating questions like, “Are you a virgin?”

Even with evidence of sexual intercourse, if the accused claims there was mutual consent, it becomes challenging to refute, leading to many cases where no charges are filed.

As a result, perpetrators go unpunished, rapists continue to roam freely, and the mechanisms for preventing crime recurrence fail to function.

Author Shiori Ito presents a compelling argument based on her own experience as a victim and thorough investigations.

Rather than harboring resentment toward the male perpetrators, she advocates for improvements in the societal system from the perspective of preventing future occurrences.

The Fact that the Impact Overseas is Greater than in Japan

Grounded in her own experience of sexual victimization, the author compellingly draws readers in with overwhelming persuasiveness.

It is a rare case where a vulnerable victim has come forward with a face and name, disclosing the facts in such detail.

The impact goes beyond enlightening the general public; it has garnered significant attention from international media.

Outlets such as BBC, The New York Times, and Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter have covered the story, and it has also been reported by French publications like Le Figaro and Le Monde, as well as Italy’s Corriere della Sera.

In comparison, the negligence of the domestic media is striking.

Reasons for the Limited Coverage in Japanese Media:

I want to express admiration not only for Shiori Ito as a victim but also as a journalist who courageously pursued investigative reporting and raised her voice against the formidable barriers of large organizations and society.

Shiori Ito’s case of sexual assault is, needless to say, just the tip of the iceberg.

The public attention this matter has received is not solely because she came forward with her real name and face for the accusation.

The accused, Mr. Yamaguchi, had connections to former Prime Minister Abe and is a prominent journalist.

There is a strong possibility that the investigation might have been handled with leniency due to these connections.

The Japanese media, which had turned into a PR arm for the former Abe administration, tends to show deference to those in power.

As a result, the coverage of the case has been minimal.

The System in Japan Where Despicable and Cowardly Individuals “Succeed”:

In fact, this book introduces emails where the accused, Mr. Yamaguchi, sought help and consultation from the Cabinet Intelligence Officer within the Prime Minister’s residence.

The Prosecution Review Board itself is a black box, deliberately concealing the process leading to non-indictment.

The obstinate refusal to answer even when questioned by members of the parliament is extraordinary.

Even if it is said that the judicial system has been personalized by those in power, there is little room for counterargument.

At the time, Mr. Itaru Nakamura, who was the head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, admitted himself that he had halted the arrest of the male suspect just before it happened.

When author Shiori Ito directly asked Mr. Nakamura about the reason for canceling the arrest at the last moment, Mr. Nakamura escaped in an incredible hurry.

In her book, Shiori Ito expresses, “I never thought I would have to chase the police in my life.”

Subsequently, Mr. Nakamura became the Chief of the National Police Agency and, on February 1, 2023, assumed the role of Special Advisor at Nippon Life Insurance.

Am I the only one who feels a chill at the societal structure where individuals who kick the weak get “promoted” and receive favorable treatment?

Whether it is Mr. Yamaguchi, who subjected an unconscious woman to sexual assault to satisfy his desire for control, or Mr. Nakamura, who abandoned his duty to explain as a public servant and discreetly fled, the words “despicable and cowardly individuals” seem fitting.

It appears that even with power and social prestige, they lack confidence and pride as human beings.

Hence, one might wonder if this is why they gained access to the Abe administration’s offices?

In order to realize a future society that is more livable than the present:

The introduction of this book as “overwhelming non-fiction” is by no means an exaggeration.

While the Japanese media refrains from reporting due to deference to those in power, this outstanding work is one that I hope many people of all ages and genders will read.

For the improvement and establishment of laws and systems, understanding from the people and a considerable amount of time are necessary.

The following are excerpts from the book:

“I want you to imagine, after reading this book. When and where what happened to me might befall you or someone dear to you, no one can predict.

What I truly want to talk about is not the ‘what happened’ itself. It’s a discussion about the future – ‘how to prevent it from happening,’ and ‘what to do if it does happen.’ I am deliberately talking about ‘what happened in the past’ to discuss that.

What I wanted to convey was the flaws in the legal system that force victims into silence, as well as issues with investigations and the societal approach when facing such incidents.”

Black Box: The Memoir That Sparked Japans #metoo Movement