Japan’s Fuji TV Ends ‘Terrace House’ Reality Show After Hana Kimura’s Death

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  • Female wrestler’s suspected suicide is thought to be linked to cyberbullying
  • Kimura had been target of hateful messages online after episode in which she got angry with male cast member over washing of her wrestling costume

Japanese reality TV show Terrace House has suspended its production for the 2019-2020 season after the sudden death of a 22-year-old cast member, it said on its website.

Hana Kimura, a professional wrestler and star of the latest season of the popular Netflix reality TV show, died on Saturday, according to World Wonder Ring Stardom, the professional wrestling organisation that represented Kimura.

Local media reported that a suicide note was found at her Tokyo home, as she struggled with a wave of online harassment.

Her apparent suicide has shocked fans around the world and raised immediate soul-searching over cyberbullying.

“We have decided to suspend the production of Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020. We take this issue very seriously and would like to continue to respond earnestly,” the show said on its Twitter account.

Soon before her death was reported, Kimura posted a photo of herself with her cat on Instagram, with the caption, “I love you. Live a happy, long life. I’m sorry.”

The latest series is shot in a luxury house in Tokyo, and Kimura’s social media accounts had been bombarded with comments portraying her as a villain.

Japanese government officials promised to step up anti-cyberbullying measures in response.

Soichiro Matsutani, an expert on socio-information studies, said it was hardly surprising that Fuji TV decided to terminate the series but that the broadcaster must also “examine, at its own responsibility, why a situation like this has occurred”.

The lecturer at Tokyo’s Musashi University said cast members on reality shows are “often fledgling entertainers who have low tolerance toward slanderous comments made about them on social media”.

Matsutani also pointed out that suicides have occurred among cast members of reality shows overseas, and some of the programmes offer counselling services by professionals to the cast.

“Broadcasters must think about how to care” for the mental health of the reality show cast, he said, adding that having broadcasters or management agencies, rather than the cast members themselves, be in charge of their social media accounts is one option to take.

The unscripted reality show featuring three men and three women living under the same roof has gained an international following since being streamed on Netflix from 2015.

The series originated on Japan’s Fuji TV in 2012 and is now co-produced by Fuji and Netflix.

The show was once suspended in the wake of the

pandemic in April, then resumed airing this month.
After Kimura’s death, the season’s upcoming episodes, which were set to air this week and next, were again put on hold.


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