Black Box is a riveting, sobering memoir that chronicles one woman’s struggle for justice, calling for changes to an industry—and in society at large—to ensure that future victims of sexual assault can come forward without being silenced and humiliated.
In 2015, an aspiring young journalist named Shiori Ito charged prominent reporter Noriyuki Yamaguchi with rape. After meeting up for drinks and networking, Ito remembers regaining consciousness in a hotel room while being assaulted. But when she went to the police, Ito was told that her case was a “black box”—untouchable and unprosecutable.
Upon publication in 2017, Ito’s searing account foregrounded the #MeToo movement in Japan and became the center of an urgent cultural and legal shift around recognizing sexual assault and gender-based violence. As international outlets covered every step of her story—even documenting it in the BBC filmJapan’s Secret Shame—this book launched a societal reckoning. At the end of 2019, Ito won a civil case against Yamaguchi.
With careful and quiet fury, Black Box recounts a broken system of repression and violence—but it also heralds the beginning of a new solidarity movement seeking a more equitable path toward justice.
Shiori Ito (born 1989) is a freelance journalist who contributes news footage and documentaries to theEconomist,Al Jazeera, Reuters, and other primarily non-Japanese media outlets. In 2017 she publishedBlack Box about her own experiences as a rape survivor, making her one of the few women in Japan to speak out against sexual assault. In 2020, she was named one of TIME's Most Influential People of the year.
Allison Markin Powell has been awarded grants from English PEN and the NEA, and the 2020 PEN America Translation Prize forThe Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami. Her other translations include works by Osamu Dazai, Kanako Nishi, and Fuminori Nakamura. She was the guest editor for the first Japan issue ofWords Without Borders, served as cochair of the PEN America Translation Committee, and currently represents the committee on PEN’s Board of Trustees. She maintains the database Japanese Literature in English and lives in New York.
“These are not the words of a victim, but of a serious journalist. The vital urgency of Shiori Ito’s record forces us to recognize the existence of the many similar cases that have gone unrecorded. Behind her words are the cries of countless others who did not speak up because of the intense pressure against them. I hope that these cries will not be silenced. I hope that someday we can progress further to a world where there are no such screams. This book isa step toward making such hopes not an impossible dream.”—Sayaka Murata, author ofConvenience Store Woman
“Shiori Ito gives a fascinating insight into Japanese social and legal mores, from ‘quasi-rape’ to the way women are treated in the media. Her account of her courageous fight against sexual violence rejects the harmful trope of the cardboard victim, reclaiming her identity as an adventurous, lively, determined, blithe spirit.”—Sohaila Abdulali, author ofWhat We Talk about When We Talk about Rape
“Such a beautifully written book, which means so much more when layered with the pain and injustice it covers.Black Box is Shiori Ito’s story, but it’s all of our realities.”—Amy Richards, author ofManifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future
“Astonishingly courageous. Ito’s determination to bring not simply justice for her own life but justice to survivors everywhere is a blueprint for systemic change. This is how you change the world. Shiori Ito is my hero.”—Rachel Louise Snyder, author ofNo Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know about Domestic Violence Can Kill Us
“The crime of rape was rarely discussed and seldom prosecuted before Shiori Ito decided to charge her attacker. Despite being thwarted by the legal system, she persisted in bringing her story to public attention, thus sparking Japan’s first #MeToo reaction. Ito’s grit and her determination to seek justice, for herself and for other survivors of sexual violence, is admirable and inspiring.”—Anne Summers, author ofDamned Whores and God’s Police
“Ito’s unshakeable commitment to demanding the world she deserves—the world we all deserve—shines from every page. Her story is a master class on how to refuse to be silenced, even when an entire government is set against you.”—Jaclyn Friedman, coeditor ofYes Means Yes: Visions of FemaleSexual Power and a World without Rape
“Black Box is the courageous testimony of a young woman who risks everything she has worked for and sacrificed to tell the truth about what happened to her. Relying on Ito’s training as a journalist, the book is deeply researched and impeccably reported. With clarity and reflection, Ito’s voice makes a vital addition to the chorus of those impacted by sexual assault who refuse to keep silent and tell their stories in order to change the future to be a safer, better place for all.”—Grace Talusan, author ofThe Body Papers
“Shiori Ito radiates with passion and conviction for seeking the truth.”—Ryuichi Sakamoto, musician and activist
“Black Box is a moving study of sexist Japan, political corruption, police failure to investigate rape, and justice sought and won by Ito’s own efforts and investigation.”—Jake Adelstein, author ofTokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
“While sexual harassment and sexual assault are unfortunately universal issues that are by no means unique to Japanese society, Shiori Ito’s painful yet powerful account of being raped provides a unique and valuable exposition of the ways in which victims have often been deterred from coming forward. Ito’s courage and persistence in seeking justice not only for herself but for similarly situated survivors, culminating in a landmark victory in her civil suit against the perpetrator, galvanized the #MeToo movement as well as the Flower Demo events held nationwide on International Women’s Day since 2019 to protest against and demand changes to laws on sexual violence.”—Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow, professor emerita, Toyo Eiwa University