Prosecutors on Monday sought two-year prison terms each for three former members of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force on charges of sexual indecency against a female subordinate in 2021.
The case has gained wide public attention as the victim, Rina Gonoi, 24, made the rare move of coming forward to expose sexual offenses she suffered while serving as a GSDF member, prompting the Defense Ministry to dishonorably discharge the three and two others and increase its efforts in addressing harassment issues.
Rina Gonoi heads to the Fukushima District Court in Fukushima on Oct. 30, 2023. (Kyodo)
At the Fukushima District Court, the three former GSDF sergeants — Shutaro Shibuya, 30, Akito Sekine, 29, and Yusuke Kimezawa, 29 — pleaded not guilty.
“I hope for a strict and just verdict to show the seriousness of what these three individuals did,” Gonoi said, adding, “I strongly hope they will be found guilty.”
The court is scheduled to hand down its ruling on Dec. 12.
According to the indictment, while eating and drinking with others on Aug. 3, 2021, the three used judo moves to force Gonoi down onto a bed and got on top of her, pressing their bodies against hers.
Gonoi, who was serving in a unit at Camp Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture, left the GSDF in June last year.
During the trial, the three denied any indecent touching or intent and stated that they had apologized to Gonoi at the instruction of the SDF prior to being discharged.
Gonoi on Wednesday attended an event in New York to mark her selection by Time magazine as one of this year’s 100 emerging world leaders for exposing the culture of sexual abuse within Japan’s armed forces.