• Crime & Courts

Hana Kimura’s Mother: ‘I Hope the Offender Faces Punishment’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kyoko Kimura is seen in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo on Dec. 11.

The mother of “Terrace House” member Hana Kimura, who committed suicide after becoming a target of online abuse, said she hopes the people who posted abusive comments directed at her daughter face punishment.

“There is no way to reverse the social media abuse that continues to spread online,” said Kyoko Kimura, 43, in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Dec. 11.

Born to professional wrestler Kyoko and an Indonesian father, Hana had a vibrant personality from an early age and loved to dance. She began working in the entertainment industry when she was a junior high school student and later became a professional wrestler, following in the footsteps of her mother.

“She had a strong sense of responsibility and took pride in her work,” Kyoko recalled.

Hana lashed out at one of her costars in an episode of “Terrace House” released on March 31, after which she received a torrent of abuse on social media, including comments such as “Hurry up and disappear” and “Who do you think you are?”

“There are people who only watch edited scenes and say whatever they want to say,” a concerned Kyoko said to her daughter on May 15.

“That’s so true,” Hana said, before speaking to Kyoko about what she had been going through. “I’m OK,” she added, perhaps to avoid further worrying her mother.

Only eight days later on May 23, Hana posted an image on Instagram that included the words “I’m sorry” before committing suicide.

More than half a year has passed since then. Kyoko said she still feels helpless, and there are days when she cannot do anything.

Kyoko has dinner with people who were close to Hana once a month and said she is reminded that her daughter was a person who spread so much joy.

Prompted by Hana’s death, the government has been working on measures to reduce the burden on victims of online abuse, including asking social media platform operators to disclose the telephone numbers of offenders, among other pieces of information, to victims of abuse.

Kyoko is planning to start a nonprofit organization to support victims of online abuse.

“The human spirit is not unbreakable. I want people to understand how much harm can be caused by publically abusing someone on social media,” she said.