5 members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces dismissed over sexual abuse

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ground Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Yoshihide Yoshida speaks at a regular press conference on Thursday.

Five members of the Ground Self-Defense Force have been dismissed over the sexual abuse of a then-serving GSDF servicewoman, the Defense Ministry announced Thursday.

Rina Gonoi, 23, accused several GSDF servicemen of sexually abusing her while she was working at a GSDF camp in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. The individuals who were let go had been supervising Gonoi.

According to the announcement, the five servicemen were sergeants in their 20s to 40s and belonged to the same company as Gonoi. The ministry has not disclosed their names.

In August last year, the men pressed the lower part of their bodies against Gonoi during mealtimes while on a training exercise.

Some of the men urged her to keep quiet about the issue and gave false explanations to internal investigators, saying, for example, that they had not witnessed any misconduct. The sexual harassment of other servicewomen has also come to light.

The ministry also admonished Gonoi’s then supervisor — a second lieutenant — for exhorting her to undress in the car after a training exercise in June last year.

Additionally, the company commander — a captain — was given a six-month suspension for neglecting his duties, including the failure to investigate Gonoi’s claims of sexual abuse. The battalion commander — a lieutenant colonel — was given a caution, while the regimental commander — a colonel — received a verbal warning regarding supervisory responsibility.

“I hope they’ll take responsibility sincerely, regardless of the severity of the punishments,” Gonoi tweeted in Japanese on her Twitter account Thursday.

“I’m deeply sorry for causing a situation in which [Gonoi] had to reveal her name and face, and speak out [about the abuse],” Ground Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Yoshihide Yoshida said Thursday at a regular press conference.

“We’ll take measures in a continuous and persistent manner to create an organizational environment that won’t tolerate harassment,” he added.