After seven months of deliberation, Japanese courts rejected a request for a restraining order filed by Ikumi Yoshimatsu, the first Japanese woman to be crowned Miss International in 2012.
In December of last year, Ms. Yoshimatsu filed criminal charges against one of Japan’s most powerful talent agency executives, Genichi Taniguchi, for allegedly stalking and harassing her. The management of the pageant, The International Culture Association, ordered her to skip the succession ceremony and “play sick and shut up” out of fear of scandal. Genichi Taniguchi is an executive in the Burning Productions group which been accused of having ties to organised crime, specifically the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Yoshimatsu, who alleges that Pearl Dash President and talent executive Genichi Taniguchi harassed and intimidated her for months, told the Japan Subculture Research Center, “I’m personally disappointed with the court. It’s taken them months to decide not to do anything at all. I’m lucky in that I have the support of my fans and I have people to watch over me—most stalking victims don’t have that luxury. As we’ve seen time and time again, when stalking victims go to the police or the courts, by the time something is done–it’s often too late. Several women have been killed even after going to the police about their stalking problems. I wish the courts would stand in the shoes of women and men who are harassed and intimidated by the stalkers pursuing them. But Japan’s judges are said to be the upper elite, removed from general society, and really unable to understand the concerns and fears of victims. Where are victims of stalking supposed to find safety if both the courts and the police refuse to act?”
In a statement released on her blog today, Yoshimatsu wrote, “During these seven months, the exchange I had with the courts felt like a trial. A temporary injunction is not a trial.”
Yoshimatsu, who filed for the temporary restraining order in January, wrote that despite the “difficult trauma” that it put her through, she had to transcribe audio recordings, organize e-mail exchanges, and put together discarded contracts in order to prove her point to the court.
After submitting the documents to the court, she would receive a rebuttal statement from Taniguchi’s side, which required her to put together a counter statement against that. For months, this pattern continued, according to Yoshimatsu.
An e-mail sent to Pearl Dash requesting comment has not yet been answered. Calls were made but the office, representing Mr. Taniguchi, said that the questions were too vague to answer and chose not to make a rebuttal to Ms. Yoshimatsu.
Yoshimatsu’s experiences gathered support within Japan and abroad and led to the launch of an anti-stalking campaign on Change.org addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that gained more than 131, 000 signatures and support from First Lady Akie Abe.
According to an August 10, 2014 editorial in the Yomiuri Shimbun, it’s easy to stalkers to track down their victims, simply by requesting their victim’s residence certificate at a city hall or ward office or just simply due to the carelessness of public servants. For example, the former lover of a female hired a private investigation company that called the city tax division pretending to be the female’s husband and obtained her address. The former lover then stabbed his victim to death.
Despite her failure to get a temporary restraining order against Taniguchi, Yoshimatsu indicates that she will continue to fight against the treatment shown to stalking victims in Japan.
“I cannot forget the many messages sent from victims to my blog and Facebook. I hope that by working hard, victims who are about to give up will be about to have some courage and strength,” Yoshimatsu said in her statement.