Japan to Review Cyber-Bullying Laws Following Wrestler's Suicide

Japan is to review laws relating to cyber-bullying following the untimely death of professional wrestler and reality TV show star Hana Kimura.

Kimura killed herself on May 23 by inhaling toxic gas in her Tokyo home. The 22-year-old had been subjected to online bullying after appearing in the last season of hit reality TV show Terrace House, which aired on Japan's Fuji Television and was also streamed on Netflix.

The vivacious pink-haired wrestler's death was confirmed in a statement released by her wrestling promoter, Stardom Wrestling, on May 23.

"We are very sorry to report that our Hana Kimura has passed away," it said. "Please be respectful and allow some time for things to process and keep your thoughts and prayers with her family and friends."

Prior to her death, Kimura had posted photos on social media that implied that she was being cyber-bullied and was struggling with self-harm. Her final Instagram post, uploaded on Friday, May 22, was a photo of the star posing with her cat accompanied by a caption that simply read "goodbye." 

Terrace House follows the lives of six people as they share a house together in Tokyo's Setagaya. Before filming was halted due to the COVID-19 health crisis, Kimura had been filmed arguing with fellow cast member and comedian Kobayashi Kai after he accidentally ruined one of her expensive wrestling costumes while doing laundry.

It was this incident that had allegedly resulted in Kimura receiving a deluge of hateful messages through social media. 

Wrestling journalist Adam Pacitti, who described the death of Kimura as "an absolute tragedy," tweeted: "I hope this serves as a reminder that interactions on social media can have a serious effect on the mental health of anyone, no matter who they are. Be kind."

According to Reuters, Japan will be holding a series of hearings to consider legal changes that will help cyber-bullying victims seek justice. 

Junko Mihara, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who is leading the party’s team on online harassment, said: “People must understand where the line between constructive criticism and abuse lies."

Kimura's death comes after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Japan caused internet usage to increase.

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