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Fuji TV says cyberbullying of 'Terrace House' star was unforeseen

Hana Kimura's mother unconvinced by report from in-house probe

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Fuji Television said Friday that production staff of the popular reality show "Terrace House" could not have foreseen the cyberbullying of a cast member who apparently killed herself after being subjected to hateful messages online.

"Terrace House" came under heavy criticism and scrutiny after 22-year-old female professional wrestler Hana Kimura, a cast member in the now-canceled series, apparently died of suicide using toxic gas after being targeted by cyberbullies. The show was also aired on U.S. streaming service Netflix with English subtitles.

According to an in-house probe report released Friday by the TV network, Kimura had engaged in self-harm after a scene in a late March episode in which she lost her temper triggered cyberbullying against her.

Production staff then met with Kimura multiple times, recommending she stop using social media and seek professional care, the report said.

Fuji TV denied it had instructed or forced cast members to speak or express themselves in a certain manner, or form certain relationships.

Kimura's mother Kyoko said Friday she is unconvinced the TV network could not have foreseen the cyberbullying when similar cases involving the show had occurred before. She also said she doubted the investigation was impartial.

The 43-year-old retired professional wrestler submitted documents to the Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization in July claiming that the reality show violated her daughter's personal and human rights.

"I want them to find out the objective truth," she said.

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