Sono Sion, Japanese director, accused of sexual harassment

Sono Sion, the self-proclaimed maverick Japanese director known for his raunchy indie films including ‘Love Exposure’ and ‘Antiporno’, has been accused of sexual harassment by several actresses in the Japanese film industry.

The charges were published by news and gossip site Shukan Josei PRIME on Monday. In a lengthy article, several actresses made accusations against Sono on condition of anonymity. According to the article, Sono, now 60, bragged about making sexual advances to “most [his] great ladies. Sono’s alleged predatory practices have been linked to his acting workshops.

On Tuesday, Sono responded to the allegations with a statement from his company. “Madam, Sir. Thank you very much for your continued support. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and concern this may have caused to all parties involved. We will make a further announcement after we sort out the facts. canceled.

On the same day, Milla Araki, who identified herself as a “former actress” and “sex victim in the Japanese entertainment world”, took to Twitter to accuse Sono. She provided few details, but said that on March 19 she called the director to see if he would “cooperate to support victims of sexual abuse.” “Of course he said, ‘It’s impossible for me,'” she said.

The Japanese film and television industry has long harbored stories of sexual abuse and abuse of power by personalities, but few surface publicly. The #MeToo household that swept English-speaking industries after the Harvey Weinstein scandal has not taken hold in Japan, although some incidents are now coming to light.

Sexual harassment allegations were recently made against in-demand actor Kinoshita Houka and director Sakaki Hideo, leading to the cancellation of the release of the latter’s two most recent films, ‘Confession’ and ‘Harbor Light’. “.

Actor Matsuzaki Yuki addressed Sono’s history of sexual harassment and power harassment in a Twitter post last Sunday that predated Shukan Josei’s story. “It was that usual Sono MO – There are dozens of victims,” ​​he wrote.

In an English response to Shukan Josei’s report, Matsazuki also tweeted, “Do you believe me now? In another post, he wrote, “Now that Sion Sono is portrayed as a sexual predator who preys on young actresses by luring them into roles in his movies, I wonder if any of the major movie studios and Japanese television networks would condemn such predatory practices?”

Although Sono’s career as a filmmaker dates back nearly four decades, his big international breakthrough was 2008’s “Love Exposure,” a nearly four-hour film about a photographer’s erotic adventures and spiritual journey. in a skirt. Screened at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009, the film won two awards and won other accolades and awards at home and abroad.

Sono’s combination of eccentric violence and sex, often served up with Christian motifs and classical music scores, has made him a cult figure on the global festival circuit. His successes at home, including the two action comedies “Shinjuku Swan”, released in 2015 and 2017, have made him an in-demand director on the business side of the industry.

Sono has also partnered with Amazon Prime for 2017’s “Tokyo Vampire Hotel” series and Netflix for 2019’s “Forest of Love” movie and subsequent miniseries. Sono made his first Hollywood venture with the 2021 dark fantasy “Prisoners of Ghost Country” starring Nicolas Cage. Production on the film was halted, however, when Sono suffered a heart attack in 2019 and took months to recover.

Marie A. Evans