Black Box by Shiori Ito

Black Box by Shiori Ito

Japanese non-fiction

Original title -Black Box

Translator  – Alison Markin Powell

Source – Subscription edition

I have the last few years start to take out a few subscriptions and one of the publishers I chose is Tilted Axis as they seem to be riding the wave of innovative choices to publish books that we wouldn’t see elsewhere such as this book a Japanese non-fiction work around rape. Thou it is very relevant in dealing with how victims of rape are treated. The book is Shiori Ito own story she was a rising journalist at the time the events in this book happened. She has since focused her work on Gender equality and Human rights issues which both link back to this book and the events that happened to her.

When people hear the word “rape,” many probably imagine a situation in which a woman is suddenly attacked by a stranger in a dark alley.

But in a survey conducted in 2014 by the Cabinet Office of the Japanese government, the percentage of cases in which a woman was forced to have sexual intercourse against her will with a total stranger was only 11.1 percent. The vast majority of cases involve victims who are acquainted with their assailant.

Just 4.3 percent of all assault victims go to the police, and of that percentage, half were raped by a stranger, which makes it seem much more prevalent.

In circumstances where the victim is acquainted with their assailant, it proves difficult to report the incident to the police.

And under Japan’s current legislative system, if the victim was unconscious when the crime occurred, there are tremendous hurdles to prosecuting.

This was true in my case.

From the introduction of the book the shocking stats !!

The title of the book is a reference to something she was told by the police and the reason after she was raped it was hard to prosecute and that is the fact that the events of the evening when she was raped by a senior colleague in a hotel room behind a closed door so only the two people involved in that evening are the witness. The book opens as Shiori Ito talks about her early years growing up how she was drawn into wanting to be a journalist studying then her first internship jabot Nippon TV and then she gets a job at Reuters. Where she begins to work with a senior colleague he is a well-known figure on Japanese tv and he is close to the prime minister so she went out for drinks had too many and appeared drunk ( the fact is she had actually been drugged by her attacker). He then told her to go back to the hotel there was footage of her obviously drugged and dragged into the hotel room by this man. This is where the rape took place what follows this is her trying to get just for what happened that night and showing how hard it can be for females to believe one of the statistics that hit me was showing how high the number of females in the police in a country the more likely it is a prosecution for rape will happen. This is shown in her case Japan has a low number of female officers in their police so even with the film footage it is the fact the events of that evening took place in a closed room. She has since taken civil action against the man and won a case but she is continuing to try and get the laws changed and remove what is called the black box which means so few cases go through.

Before we had finished the second bottle of sake, I went to the bathroom. I came back to my seat, and I recall a third bottle being ordered, but I have no memory of whether or not I drank it. Then, suddenly, I had a kind of strange feeling, and I got up to go to the bathroom a second time. As soon as I was inside, I felt dizzy. I sat down on the toilet with the lid closed and rested my head on the tank. That’s the last thing I remember.

The last thing she remembers on that evening why ? what happened after that ?

The book took Japan by storm she accused the man involved in this case live on tv for what he had done to her this triggered a metoo movement in Japan. She has been in the Time 100 most influential people list. The book is told in a very stark style it is a no holds look at the events of that night and how rough the rape and attack was. Then the horrific lack of police action after this event even with the video footage of her being dragged into the room. We even get an update on the events since the book first came out and her uphill journey to get the views of the police and the way victims of rape are just treated and need to be believed even when the events are in the black box !!. This is a powerful and great second book for this year’s January in Japan. (don’t worry it isn’t all Japanese books this month). The next book links into this well as it is a piece of auto-fiction that follows a male rape and the aftermath of his attack. Have you read this book or any other books that deal with the metoo movement?

Winston’s score- A This is a powerful account of a rape and its aftermath.

January 2023


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