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Japan PM calls for more harassment prevention in Self-Defense Forces

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a commencement address at a graduation ceremony at the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture, eastern Japan, on March 26, 2023. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday that harassment must be prevented from occurring in the Self-Defense Forces after three former service members were indicted on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female ex-colleague.

Harassment “shakes the foundation of the SDF, which is a human-centered organization,” Kishida said during a speech at a graduation ceremony for the National Defense Academy. “I want those set to play a central role in the SDF to reaffirm this point.”

His remarks came after prosecutors indicted the former SDF members earlier this month on suspicion of indecent assault in a reopened investigation into the sexual harassment of Rina Gonoi, 23, that occurred while she was serving in a unit based in Fukushima Prefecture.

The indictment of the suspects, who are among five SDF members dishonorably discharged over the incident last year, came after prosecutors decided to re-examine the case following a September 2022 inquest that challenged the decision not to prosecute them.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada also said in his speech that there has been a growing need to ensure an environment where talented people can play an active role in the service, regardless of their gender, amid an increase in female SDF personnel.

Gonoi has also filed a civil lawsuit against the five discharged members and the state in what has become a major scandal involving the organization.


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