Steve DiGioia

Shiori Ito’s Journey as a Sexual Assault Survivor: A Well Documentation of Despair and Hope

Films about women’s fight against abusive and powerful men are not uncommon after the initiative of the #MeToo movement. Cinemas across the world have portrayed the struggles of women and their fight for justice. 


Even in the presence of so many such films, nothing seems to compare to “Black Box Diaries.” 

A Well Documentation of Experiences

The documentary talks about Shiori Ito’s struggles as a sexual assault survivor, which has left a wound in the viewers’ hearts.

The documentary is her directorial debut which is entirely from her perspective of her experience as a journalist. It not only includes her journalistic skills and diving deep into the depths of patriarchal powers but also a montage of psychological stress and breakdowns that a survivor has to live with.

The portrayal of her life as a sexual assault survivor is discomforting to watch even as a viewer.

The documentary is presented as Ito’s last word on her ordeal which is already covered in her 2017 memoir. It has gained so much international media attention that she has earned a spot in Times 100 list in 2020.

For people who don’t know her, the documentary will prove to be an eye-opener for her struggles and perspective as a survivor along with the legal drama it includes.

She has well portrayed the culture of protecting men in cases where they are highly profiled and have political powers.


The Opening 

Ita’s first line comes with a warning and a piece of advice for the viewers with traumas resurfacing, to close their eyes. The film then switches between investigation, confessions and videos and audio recordings to give the audience an idea about the narrator’s shifting state of mind from a journalist to a victim shattered and scared to present her story to the world.


The Story 

The story begins in 2015, when 26-year-old Ito, an intern at Thomson Reuters, goes out for a drink with a well-known TV reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi where she gets intoxicated and forcefully taken to his hotel room.

She took the matter to the police, who dismissed her under the old Japanese law that only considered a case as sexual assault if the victim showed violent resistance to the assault, however, due to her intoxicated state, her allegations were baseless.

The case was also dismissed as Yamaguchi was friends with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Unfortunately, her family also refused to discuss the matter which broke her, along with her career and reputation at stake. Despite the discouragement, she went public with her accusation in 2017 and decided to take the matter to court. 

She also started searching for a publisher for her book “Black Box,” which not only included her experience and journey throughout but also as a base for re-evaluating Japanese sexual assault laws.

Even after the prosecution review board determined that she had no case, she took the matter to civil court, facing media backlash and hate from the public.

The most intriguing part of the documentary is to secure male allies which often leads to women still having to encounter inappropriate behaviors, as she calls one of the officers who dismissed the case who replies to her while being drunk.

The documentary not only shows the malice that men hide but also the conscience and sympathy of men. It is portrayed in her conversation with the hotel doorman who had witnessed the assault, as he is determined to help her.

Revealing the depths of abuse and laws that defend such acts, the five-year-long case triggers viewers’ emotions with Ido’s fragile state of mind, jumping between despair, by her attempt to commit suicide and gaining confidence as the case works in her favor. The film is an inspiration and empowerment to all the viewers.


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