TOKYO (TR) – A woman claims she was raped at hotel by a former TBS News journalist with ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after being plied her with alcohol two years ago, reports Nippon News Network (May 29).
Under the pseudonym “Shiori,” the 28-year-old woman told a press conference held on Monday at the Ministry of Justice that freelance journalist Noriyuki Yamaguchi, 51, invited her to dinner in the capital and she blacked out, only to regain consciousness as he was raping her at a hotel.
Following an investigation that ended in the non-prosecution of Yamaguchi, he denied any wrongdoing. However, Shiori believes the handling of the case was flawed.
“I knew I had to speak out about the horrific extent to which rape can affect one’s life,” she said at the press conference. “For the past two years, there were times when I wondered why I was even left alive,” Shiori said. “The act of rape has killed me from the inside.”
Journalist tied to PM Abe
Yamaguchi is a former journalist at TBS News who at the time of the incident was bureau chief for the network in Washington D.C. He has conducted a number of interviews with Abe for the network. He has also penned two books on the prime minister, most recently “Secret Feud,” published in January by Gentosha.
Shiori became acquainted with Yamaguchi through a friend. In March of 2015, she sent him a message to ask about working at his bureau.
On March 25, Yamaguchi replied: “If you mean as an intern, then that’s a sure hire, but if you are serious, even as a [paid] producer, then considerations will be made.”
He added that obtaining a visa could be a problem. “I’ll look into it since TBS is able to support you on that,” Yamaguchi wrote on March 28, 2015. “By the way, I’ll be back in Japan for business for a little bit, will you be in Tokyo next week?”
“What do you mean, rape?”
Shiori said Yamaguchi thereafter invited her to dinner. On April 3, he took her to her a kushiyaki restaurant in the Ebisu district of Shibuya Ward. They subsequently went to two other establishments before she lost consciousness. (The incident was originally reported in the May 18 issue of weekly tabloid Shukan Shincho, which says that she was drugged.)
At around 5:00 a.m. the next morning, Shiori awoke to find herself fully nude on a bed at a hotel with Yamaguchi sexually assaulting her without a condom.
Shiori said she maintained contact with Yamaguchi to uncover the truth about what happened. On April 18, Shiori wrote to him by email, “Have you considered that I could be pregnant?”
Yamaguchi replied the same day: “To say that I did something to you while you were unconscious completely strays from the facts. You, being the wonderful woman that you are, slipped into my bed half-naked when I was quite drunk myself. And that’s how it led to this.”
On May 7, 2015, Shiori wrote: “What else do you intend to tell a woman who was not only raped but could possibly be pregnant?”
The same day, Yamaguchi replied: “What do you mean, rape? I can’t accept that in the slightest.”
“Orders from above”
Later that month, Shiori filed a report with Tokyo Metropolitan Police. She said she was informed by Takanawa Police Station in June that an arrest warrant was obtained for Yamaguchi on suspicion of sexual assault against a person who cannot offer resistance.
According to Shiori, investigators waited for Yamaguchi to arrive at Narita International Airport to apprehend him after the warrant was issued. “But that arrest warrant was never enforced,” she told the press conference. “Even now, I still clearly remember the words of the investigator when they called me. They said, ‘We saw [Yamaguchi] pass right in front of us, but we couldn’t arrest him because of orders from above. I will also be pulling out of this investigation.’”
A source related to the case said the investigation was independently conducted by the Takanawa Police Station. A decision was later made for the investigation to begin again from the ground up, the source said.
On August 26, police referred the case to prosecutors with Yamaguchi accused of sexual assault against a person who cannot offer resistance. However, on July 22, 2016, the case against Yamaguchi was dropped by prosecutors at the Tokyo District Court because of insufficient grounds to charge him, the source said.
“It’ll be difficult to prosecute”
Suspicious about how the original arrested warrant was not upheld, Shiori subsequently requested the Committee for the Inquest of the Prosecution to re-investigate the case.
Shiori said she was later told to reach an out-of-court settlement with Yamaguchi by an investigator. “It’ll be difficult to prosecute, so let’s just settle out of court,” Shiori quoted the investigator as saying.
The head of the criminal investigation department at Tokyo Metropolitan Police who supervised the case told Nippon News Network, “We thoroughly investigated the case. It wasn’t the kind of case to indict over. There’s not a single blemish on the investigation.”
“No illegal act”
In May of last year, Yamaguchi revealed on Facebook that he was resigning from TBS News to take a position as a researcher with a think tank.
Regarding the incident, he claimed to Nippon News Network, “In my relationship with the woman, I have not done anything that breaks the law,” he said.
On May 10, Yamaguchi also denied any wrongdoing in a post on Facebook in referring to the Shincho article. “The authorities strictly investigated, and, as a result, the final conclusion was that there was no illegal act,” he wrote, according to Sports Hochi (May 29).