Ex-soldier files Yokohama lawsuit in sexual abuse case

TOKYO, 30 Jan 2023:

Former Japanese soldier Rina Gonoi, who was sexually abused while serving in the Japan Self-Defense Forces, announced she filed a civil lawsuit today against the state and her aggressors for trivialising the case.

Gonoi, 23, filed the lawsuit in the Yokohama District Court, south of Tokyo – seeking compensation for damages from the government and five aggressors, she said today at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

Gonoi suffered various forms of sexual abuse – including comments, touching, and harassment – from Fall 2020 to Summer 2021, which were ignored by her supervisors.

After leaving the armed forces, she publicly denounced the case online using her real name and filed an investigation request with the Defence Ministry – which confirmed the facts and even apologised to her.

Five soldiers implicated in the harassment were indefinitely dishonourably suspended in December and the commander of the unit involved was suspended for six months for failing to take appropriate action.

According to the investigation, other women in the unit had also been harassed.

“In the unit where I was, sexual harassment was very frequent, as if it were a form of communication, which results in a loss of sensitivity towards these cases,” Gonoi said at a press conference held in December, adding she wished these incidents “are not repeated”.

Already then, the former military officer said the possibility of taking legal action after comments trivialising harassment were made in a meeting with the perpetrators.