A 30-year-old freelance journalist in Japan who accused a high-powered TV journalist of rape won about $30,000 in damages in a Tokyo court Wednesday, in what she calls a "milestone" for Japan, per the New York Times. Judge Akihiro Suzuki said he found Shiori Ito's account, laid out in a civil suit, of being sexually assaulted in April 2015 by Noriyuki Yamaguchi, an ex-DC bureau chief for the Tokyo Broadcasting System, "highly trustworthy." Suzuki added Yamaguchi had committed an "illegal act" after the two went to dinner in Tokyo, ostensibly to discuss job prospects. Per the Japan Times, Ito says she fell unconscious during their meal at a sushi restaurant and that Yamaguchi dragged her to his hotel room; she believes he drugged her, the Washington Post notes. Ito says she woke up in Yamaguchi's bed, held down by him, and tried to get him to stop assaulting her.
Yamaguchi, 53, who's also served as a biographer for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, accuses Ito of lying and says he'll appeal, but Judge Suzuki found Ito to be credible, based on ample evidence in her favor, including security footage that showed her being taken, seemingly unconscious, through the lobby of Yamaguchi's hotel. Prosecutors dropped her police complaint in July 2016, saying there was insufficient evidence; an oversight panel backed that decision in 2017. Ito believes Yamaguchi's ties to Abe led to interference in her case. The Post notes Ito's testimony has given a major push to Japan's #MeToo movement, with more rapes now being reported, more women speaking out about sexual harassment, and more public demonstrations. "There are so many people who are fighting alone," Ito said Wednesday. "I hope it will become easier for them to feel less worried going forward." (Read more MeToo stories.)