Kimura, a cast member on the latest season of the Netflix show “Terrace House,” died on Saturday at the age of 22, confirmed World Wonder Ring Stardom, the professional wrestling organization that represented Kimura.
News of Kimura’s death sent shockwaves through Japan and the broader “Terrace House” fan base, with many people pointing to the deluge of abuse Kimura faced from social media users in recent months.
The wave of online criticism and harassment was heightened after an episode that aired on March 31, showing an argument between Kimura and another cast member.
That abuse came under scrutiny and widespread condemnation after Kimura’s death.
Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication, Sanae Takaichi, pledged on Tuesday to speed up government discussions around cyberbullying legislation.
Takaichi would head a government panel to discuss whether internet users could be identified if their posts included “slander and defamation,” she said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also expressed his condolences for Kimura’s death on Monday, saying, “It is important to improve literacy on the internet so that users won’t use comments to hurt others with slander.”
Other cast members from “Terrace House” also stepped forward with their own experiences of online abuse.
Emika Mizukoshi, who left shortly after Tawatari, described receiving messages online telling her to “go and die.”
International wrestling community grieves
Kimura was a rising star in the wrestling world. Her mother, Kyoko Kimura, was previously a famous professional wrestler, and Hana followed suit, graduating from a training academy in 2016.
She officially joined Stardom, a women’s professional wrestling group based in Tokyo, in 2019, and went on to win several championships and tournaments.
However, her role on “Terrace House” was what propelled her to greater fame — domestically and globally. The show, co-produced and distributed by Netflix, has gained international popularity in recent years, with a growing number of fans in the United States and Asia.
Sometimes dubbed an “anti-reality TV” show, “Terrace House” places six strangers together in one house, where they live and date throughout the season. Unlike typical dating shows, “Terrace House” is largely free of explosive drama and instead full of everyday mundanities like grocery shopping and day jobs.
Kimura joined the latest season set in Tokyo, which aired last May. While on the show, she discussed topics like the difficulties of being a female wrestler, public misconceptions about her job, and the struggle of work-life balance.
Fellow female wrestlers around the world took to social media after her death to pay tribute, express their condolences, and speak out against cyberbullying.
Other famous wrestlers who spoke out after Kimura’s death include Mick Foley, Nia Jax, and Kelly Klein.