Ex-SDF Member Gonoi Among This Year’s International Women of Courage Award Winners for Coming Forward About Sexual Abuse

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Rina Gonoi speaks during an interview in 2013.

WASHINGTON — Former Ground Self-Defense Force member Rina Gonoi will be honored with the International Women of Courage Award for speaking up about sexual abuse she suffered from male personnel, the U.S. State Department said Friday.

Gonoi will become the second Japanese woman to receive the award. The awards ceremony will be held on Monday at the White House, with first lady Jill Biden attending.

After Gonoi went public with her accusations in 2022, she “thrust sexual harassment and accountability into the national discourse,” the State Department said in its statement. The statement also noted she “shined a light on an otherwise taboo subject in traditional Japanese society.”

Her speaking out eventually led the Defense Ministry to offer her an apology and three of the accused perpetrators to receive guilty sentences in criminal court.

“Her bravery to take on social norms emboldened countless survivors of abuse to come forward with their own stories,” the statement said.

In 2015, Sayaka Osakabe became the first Japanese woman to receive the honor for her activities in addressing maternity harassment against pregnant and childbearing women at the workplace.

Last year, Gonoi was selected as one of Time magazine’s “TIME100 Next” rising leaders, and the BBC named her on its list of 100 inspiring women.