Japan’s Secret Shame review – breaking a nation’s taboo about rape

This important film focuses on allegations by Shiori Ito to tell the wider but hidden story of violence towards Japanese women

Japan’s Secret Shame is an extremely difficult documentary to watch. It is harrowing, frustrating and distressing. It is also an incredibly important film, brave and necessary, handled with care and quiet fury by the producer and director, Erica Jenkin. It tells a big story about violence towards women, about structural inequality and discrimination, by focusing on a smaller, more individual one.

In 2015, Shiori Ito came forward with a public allegation of rape against a prominent and well-connected journalist, Noriyuki Yamaguchi, who denies the charge. Over the course of almost three years, we see Ito’s story unfolding, in awful ways and also in inspirational ones. At times, it is maddening beyond belief. Ultimately, it leaves the viewer with a sense of urgent upheaval, and perhaps, optimistically, the potential beginnings of a significant cultural shift.

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