Kyoko Kimura — the mother of Hana Kimura, the 22-year-old pro-wrestler and cast member of the reality soap opera Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020 , who committed suicide in May — said her daughter was pressured into faking a confrontation that resulted her being cyberbullied.
Speaking to Shukan Bunshun magazine, Kyoto, 43, a retired wrestler, revealed what transpired in the ‘The Case of the Costume Incident’ episode where Hana had an altercation with house-mate Kai Kobayashi who ruined her cherished wrestling outfit in the washing machine. The fight culminated with Hana slapping Kai’s cap off his head.
After that episode aired, Hana’s on-screen behaviour was heavily criticised by viewers and she started receiving hate tweets, including some saying, “Everybody will be happy if you are gone quickly,” and “Never appear on TV again.”
In the interview, Kyoko — as per Japan Times writer Farrah Hasnain’s translations in a series of tweets — said Hana was “pressured to act more violent & aggressive on Terrace House, and the Costume Incident episode was staged.”
Kyoko said Hana confided in her about the incident on May 18 — five days before her death — during a car ride home from a birthday party for Hana’s grandmother. Hana said the Terrace House producers “was forcing her to behave more obnoxiously on-camera for views.”
Hana was reluctant to escalate the incident, but the producers egged her on to play up her villainous (or 'heel' in Japanese) wrestling persona “from 1 to 100”.
Kyoko said, “The staff instigated the Costume Incident. They would say things like ‘Nice. Now slap his face.’ Hana didn’t want to get violent or hurt anyone. It was wrong and didn’t appear professional as a wrestler, anyway.”
In the end, Hana compromised and just slapped the cap off Kai's head. The publication also reached out to Kai, who confirmed that Hana had spoken to him on numerous occasions about “how the producers pressured them to act on-screen”.
9. On top of that, Kai Kobayashi, the co-star who Hana fought with (and dated on Terrace House) confirmed that it was true. She also called him and spoke to him about how the producers pressured them to act on-screen. pic.twitter.com/r15HpVVZiI— 🥀🌿ƒarrah∴∶ファラ∶∵فرح🌿🥀 (@farrahakase) July 1, 2020
Fuji TV, Terrace House's broadcaster in Japan, declined to comment on the Shuukan Bunshun interview but said they were “looking into” the Kyoko’s allegations. (Outside Japan, the show is streamed on Netflix.)
Elsewhere, in a Kyodo News report, Fuji TV said it had a written agreement with the cast members on how scenes would be staged and filmed. The deal contained a clause in which the performers would have to agree to all instructions and decisions regarding the way the scenes are shot and edited.
And should the performers violate the terms, they are liable for damages caused to the production. Fuji TV, however, said it didn’t impose on the cast to full comply with all of its instructions. Neither did it give instructions to the cast that would have manipulated them emotionally.
Not only was Kyoko upset with Fuji TV, she was also miffed about Hana’s Terrace House cast-mates. On the same day (July 2) the Shuukan Bunshun issue with Kyoko's interview hit the newsstands, pictures of Hana’s TV house-mates partying on a rooftop in Tokyo were circulating on social media.
One of them, businessman Niino Toshiyuki, shared Instagram Stories of them getting drunk and making merry. One video reportedly has Niino and co-stars Reo Kanao, Emika Mizukoshi, Ruka Nishinori and Yume Hayashi, saying “We are Terrace House.”
Kyoko took to Twitter to express her displeasure over the gathering (the tweet is unavailable when we tried to access it).
As per SoraNews24’s English translation, Kyoko wrote “This timing, when Shuukan Bunshun went on sale? Hana’s 49th memorial day hasn’t even taken place yet people from that sketchy show are partying? I guess the backbone of it is it’s not their problem. I don’t mean to criticise them individually, but it’s just sad. Disappointing.”
In Japanese Buddhist funeral traditions, the family of a deceased individual stays in mourning for 49 days, during which time the urn containing the bones of the departed is kept in the family home before being buried in a ceremony on the 49th day.
Hana’s death sparked a public outcry against cyberbullying with legistors seeking to propose new laws to deal with the issue. Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020 was subsequently cancelled by Fuji TV.
If you or someone you know is having difficulties coping, here are some numbers to call:
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
CHAT @ *SCAPE: (+65) 6493 6500, (+65) 6493 6501
SAF Counselling Hotline: 1800-278-0022