Japanese director Sion Sono has been accused by two women of sexual assault in a new report from Shukan Josei PRIME.
Sono is known for provocative indie films like 2008’s “Love Exposure,” which screened at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival and won two awards. The almost four-hour film follows the erotic adventures of a peeping tom photographer.
An unnamed actress told entertainment magazine Shukan Josei PRIME that Sono told her that women have had sex with him for years to gain parts in his films, and that he is to thank for their success in the industry. She said that after Sono offered her a role, he attempted to force her to have sex with him (via Variety). After she refused, the director allegedly called another actress he had previously worked with and proceeded to engage in sexual acts in front of her. An assistant director then allegedly led her outside and tried to take her to a love hotel.
Another actress told Shukan Josei that Sono similarly coerced her into sex on the premise of receiving film roles, saying, “I want to screw you while you’re talking to your boyfriend on the phone.” When she told him she did not have a boyfriend, he allegedly said, “Well get one, I like that kind of thing.”
An executive at a Japanese film distributor told Shukan Josei, “Even now, there is a director who has no qualms about saying, ‘If you screw me, I’ll give you work.’ His films are acclaimed and many actresses want to appear in them. He uses that to assault women as if it’s nothing. That director is Sion Sono.”
Sono also helmed “Antiporno” and Amazon Prime Video series “Tokyo Vampire Hotel,” as well as the 2019 Netflix film “Forest of Love.” Sono most recently directed the 2021 dark fantasy “Prisoners of the Ghostland” starring Nicolas Cage, Imogen Poots, and Nick Cassavetes; production was delayed after the filmmaker suffered a heart attack in 2019.
Sono has also reportedly bragged about making sexual advances to “most of [his] leading ladies,” with his alleged behavior also linked to his acting workshops.
On April 5, Sono responded to the allegations with a statement from his company: “To whom it may concern, Thank you very much for your continued support. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and concern this may have caused to all parties concerned. We will make a new announcement after sorting out the facts.”
Sono’s upcoming acting workshop has been canceled.
Japanese film industry insiders have also responded to the claims against Sono on social media. Actor Matsuzaki Yuki said this was “usual MO” for Sono. “There are dozens of victims,” Matsuzaki tweeted.
Matsuzaki later wrote, “Do you believe me now?” in a comment to the Shukan Josei article, and posted, “Now that Sion Sono is outed as a sexual predator who preys on young actresses luring them with roles in his films, I wonder if ANY of the major Japanese film studios and TV networks would condemn such predatory practices?”
Director Sono is married to former pin-up model Megumi Kagurazaka, who has appeared in a number of his films. His first child was born in 2019, two days before he was hospitalized by a heart attack, delaying the production of “Prisoners of the Ghostland.”
The allegations against Sono follow the #MeToo claims against director Hideo Sakaki and his friend Houka Kinoshita by multiple women.
Now that Sion Sono is outed as a sexual predator who preys on young actresses luring them with roles in his films, I wonder if ANY of the major Japanese film studios and TV networks would condemn such predatory practices? How about Japan Academy Awards?https://t.co/SOi3udQ1s7
— Yuki Matsuzaki 松崎悠希 (@Yuki_Mats) April 4, 2022