TOKYO (Kyodo) — Fuji Television said Friday it had a written agreement with cast members of its popular reality show “Terrace House” on how scenes would be staged, after the death of one of them following cyber-bullying triggered a public outcry.
Terrace House came under heavy criticism and scrutiny after 22-year-old female professional wrestler Hana Kimura, who starred in the current series, apparently killed herself after being targeted by cyber-bullies. The show was also aired on U.S. streaming service Netflix with English subtitles.
Fuji TV said the agreement states that if any cast member violates its terms, resulting in the show’s termination, they would have to pay for any damages incurred.
The TV network, however, insisted there was “no coercion” on its part, and the producers did not give any instructions to cast members that would have manipulated them emotionally.
Fuji TV also said that the production team did not impose on the cast to fully comply with all of its instructions.
Kimura’s death in May spurred calls for an end to cyber-bullying and for more action to prevent and track down anonymous users posting defamatory comments. She had been subjected to a barrage of hateful messages on social media fueled by her behavior in one episode.
“Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” was the latest in a series that began in 2012. It featured three women and three men sharing a house in Tokyo. Netflix says the cast members are “looking for love while living under the same roof” and that there is “no script” for the show.
Fuji TV said in late May it will terminate the latest series.
Shortly before her death, Kimura posted a picture of herself on Instagram with the words “I’m sorry.”
After the episode, which showed the controversial scene in which she lost her temper, Kimura began receiving tweets including some saying, “Everybody will be happy if you are gone quickly” and “Never appear on TV again.”
On the day of her death, the Yokohama native tweeted, “Every day, I receive nearly 100 honest opinions and I cannot deny that I get hurt.”
There has been speculation that the acting and storylines on the reality show were actually staged.