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Japan spotlights intimacy managers after sex abuse scandal


Japan’s entertainment industry last year was rocked by serious allegations against a prominent director in a reminder of of global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse. Director Hideo Sakaki, 51, was accused by several women in the industry of being coerced into sex with him. The release of his movie – Honeymoon (Mitsugetsu) – was delayed after four women spoke to Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine, and made startling allegations against him. Later, more women came to the fore. Claims also emerged against Shion Sono, the director of a number of several popular feature films, and actor Houka Kinoshita.

Even as apologies followed, a massive campaign was launched against such abuses in the sector. A petition was signed by Cannes’ Palme d’Or-winning Hirokazu Kore-eda, Cannes Jury Prize winner Koji Fukada among other prominent names, as they stressed: “These acts are unforgivable”. The country is now witnessing a surge in a fresh trend with intimacy coordinators making inroads, according to a report by news agency AFP.  Director Kenji Kuwashima, who is working with Momoko Nishiyama for a movie, sees her as “defending both parties”. “In the end, everyone wants the same thing: to make the best production possible,” he told AFP.

“In the United States, everyone knows what an intimacy coordinator is, but in Japan, I have to start by explaining what it is that I do, and that I’m not the director’s enemy,” Nishiyama said, explaining her role and the related challenges.

What is an intimacy coordinator

An intimacy coordinator is the link between actors and production. The coordinator has also been described as “someone whose job is to help and support actors performing in intimate scenes (= ones involving sex) in a film or play and to make sure that they do not experience anything unwanted or offensive during these performances,” by the Cambridge dictionary. It is also the intimacy coordinator’s job to discuss boundaries with each actor before rehearsals or filming starts. Their role is becoming increasingly important amid heightened sensitivity in film industries, especially Hollywood.

Last year, Game of Thrones star Sean Bean drew criticism for the remark’s they “ruin” and “spoil the spontaneity of a sex scene”.

Source: WIO news