Black Box
Author: Shiori Itō
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163907826
256 pages
13.0 x 18.8 cm / 5.2 x 7.5 in (WxH)
Category: Nonfiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2017
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While she is studying in the United States, Shiori Itō, a young aspiring journalist, becomes acquainted with Noriyuki Yamaguchi, the chief of the Washington bureau of a Japanese broadcaster. Yamaguchi promises her a future job under him. Later, when both are back in Japan, Yamaguchi invites Itō to dinner to discuss “business.” After her third drink at their second sushi bar, Itō puzzlingly loses consciousness—and awakes on a hotel bed with a pain in her lower body and Yamaguchi pushing himself down against her.

Itō is so completely panicked by the incredibility of what is happening that all she can do is run away, and five days pass before she gathers herself together enough to go to the local police. The officers are at first reluctant to work on the case, saying that an arrest will be difficult, but nevertheless persist in their investigation until they are nearly ready to bring Yamaguchi in.

Suddenly the head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department puts a stop to the arrest, transferring the case from the local precinct to the First Investigation Division inside the central organization. Could it be because of Yamaguchi’s proximity to prominent members of the incumbent cabinet, including Prime Minister Shinzō Abe himself? In the end, the charges against Yamaguchi are dropped.

Distrustful of the police, Itō brings the case before the prosecution review committee, which fails to overturn the initial decision. As she comes to learn all too well, Japanese society abounds with “black boxes” that serve to protect the perpetrators of sexual crimes: indeed, those accused cannot be found guilty unless evidence such as semen is extracted immediately after the act and the victim can prove she physically resisted the assault.

If the law cannot bring rapists to justice, then clearly something must change. As a journalist and a rape survivor, Itō exposes the situation faced by victims in Japan today, fleshing out her own story with those of others like her. Her book is both a highly charged work of nonfiction and an argument for increased measures including rape hotlines and legal reform.