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Cover-Up Exposed: Report Reveals Japan’s Armed Forces Concealed Sexual and Other Harassment Cases

A research that sheds light on pervasive abuse in the armed services claims that Japan’s military covered up instances of sexual and other types of harassment among members of the self-defense forces (SDF) and refused to take complaints seriously.

A group of experts assembled in response to a prominent case in 2022 claimed knowing of 1,325 instances of harassment involving both men and women, adding that more than 60% of victims had not come forward.

According to its findings, the majority of victims lacked confidence in how the SDF and defense ministry handled complaints or feared retaliation if they came forward.

Sexual harassment accounted for roughly 12% of the reported occurrences, which comprised power abuse in around 80% of the cases. According to Japanese media, the panel also discovered instances of maternal harassment directed at women who took time off before and after giving birth.

The panel found that the majority of the 400 people who had sought assistance believed they had not received sufficient help, with some claiming they had been coerced into abandoning their complaints. These results are expected to increase criticism of how the SDF and the ministry handle harassment accusations.

An ex-SDF member said that she had been regularly assaulted by many troops, which had forced her to give up her job. This information led to the investigation.

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SDF Harassment Allegations Spark Reforms and Legal Responses

A research that sheds light on pervasive abuse in the armed services claims that Japan’s military covered up instances of sexual and other types of harassment among members of the self-defence forces (SDF) and refused to take complaints seriously.

An earlier complaint was made in 2021 by Rina Gonoi, a former member of the ground SDF, but the military ministry dismissed it because of inadequate proof.

SDF officials admitted Gonoi’s mistreatment and apologized in September 2022 after she publicly demanded that her accusations be reexamined. A month later, Gonoi received personal apology letters from four of the five offenders. At the end of 2022, the ministry disciplined four additional service members and fired five others.

Gonoi claimed that after joining the SDF in 2020, she had experienced daily harassment. She has now launched a damages lawsuit against the government, her five alleged attackers, and the five of them. She added that other troops had kissed her on the face or touched her breasts. She claimed she had been smacked on the buttocks or held from behind while walking down the hallway.

In its findings, the panel asked the government and the SDF—which employs around 230,000 service members—to increase awareness of harassment and evaluate how supervisory officers handle complaints.

The chairman of the employment and education department of the defense ministry, Satoshi Mikai, declared that the ministry would act in accordance with the report’s recommendations to “create an organization that does not tolerate harassment.”

Several SDF soldiers came out with reports of sexual and other types of harassment as a result of Gonoi’s decision to go public. Some current and former employees have sued the government for damages on the grounds that their cases were mismanaged or covered up.

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Source: The Guardian

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