Aggravated Members Finally “Dismissed from Service”… A Former Self-Defense Force Woman’s Epic Sexual Harassment and Battle Against the Land Self-Defense Forces. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Aggravated Members Finally “Dismissed from Service”… A Former Self-Defense Force Woman’s Epic Sexual Harassment and Battle Against the Land Self-Defense Forces.

Part 2: I did not let the sexual violence get the best of me. What Rina Gonoi told us

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Rina Gonoi joined the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force in April 2020 because she wanted to master judo, which she had started at age 5, and because she admired female Self-Defense Force officers who supported her after the Great East Japan Earthquake, of which she was a victim. After a six-month training period, when she was assigned to a company in the Tohoku area, she heard a rumor that “the sexual harassment in that company was terrible. However, there was no way he could refuse his first assignment. In June 2022, she retired. She resigned in June 2022, and later filed a complaint about the sexual violence she had suffered while in the service.

On December 15, Rina Gonoi was finally “punished” for the sexual violence she suffered while serving at the Koriyama Garrison of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. Following Part 1: The Dark Side of the Spectacular Sexual Harassment Former Self-Defense Force Officer Suffered, we recount an interview with her at the time she made the accusation.

She enlisted in the Self-Defense Forces because she admired a female officer she met while assisting in the disaster relief efforts. However, she found it an unbelievable world where sexual harassment was rampant.

No one helped me.

I joined the Self-Defense Forces because I had a dream. About two months before the decisive incident in August, she had been jostled, touched on the chest, and kissed on the cheek by several members at a banquet during a training session. This incident also became a problem within the unit.

When she was “jostled” by several members in the tent, she asked for help from a senior member, and the exchange of lines shows the “abnormality” of this organization.

The line exchange also reveals the “abnormality” of this organization: “But then there was a lot of talk about who had snitched on me. I was the one who tipped them off. When my boss asked me about it, I had no choice but to say, ‘No, nothing happened. I talked to my mother about it, but she said, ‘Well, you have a goal of going to PE school, so why don’t you just hold off here?’ I thought that was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to give up on my dream. I was frustrated, but I was able to endure because of judo.

In August, however, her heart was shattered by a spectacular sexual harassment incident that took place in a tent where she was training. In front of a large group of male trainees, she was pushed down by several men and forced to shake her hips in a position that resembled sexual intercourse. The situation was so abnormal that neither her superiors nor anyone else stopped her, but rather laughed at her. Moreover, there was even a rumor going around that he had been raped by six male members of his unit. He felt nothing but frustration. Even so, he had no intention of quitting the Self-Defense Forces at first. But…

The fact that the reason I came home from my training was because of sexual harassment was never reported to the battalion commander. Later, a section (corresponding to the General Affairs and Personnel Division) that investigates problems within the organization decided to take up the matter, but they simply said, ‘We can’t get any testimony. I was told it didn’t exist.

I wanted the person who did that to me to apologize. If they had apologized at that point and said they would never do such a thing again, I would not have quit. But after the sloppy investigation and being told there was nothing to it, I couldn’t forgive them. I also went to a psychiatrist, was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, and took a leave of absence. I even got sick when I saw camouflage clothing.

Gradually, he was driven into a corner. One by one, his seniors and colleagues, who had said they would testify and support him, began to say that “nothing had happened. I had a fear of being crushed by the organization.

The moment I sat on my knees and thought, “I’m going to die.

It was on March 16 of this year that she decided to “prepare herself,” saying that she could no longer find meaning in life. I realized how weak I was. Not only her body, but also her mind was tainted. She felt like that. Let’s die,” she thought. She prepared a rope to tie around her neck.

Sitting upright on my bed at home with the rope in my hand, I was ready to do it when I was hit by a strong earthquake of intensity 6. That’s when I woke up. I knew that I should not die here. There are people who didn’t survive the earthquake, so what am I going to do if I die?

He decided that he had no choice but to fight. He reported the incident as a case of indecent assault to the police headquarters (an organization directly under the Ministry of Defense), which is in charge of investigating crimes within the Self-Defense Forces. However, after an investigation by the public prosecutor’s office, her complaint was dropped in May of this year.

She said, “I have testimony up to the part where they kicked her in the neck and knocked her down, but there was no one to testify about what happened after that. She filed a damage report for indecent assault, so that part doesn’t apply.

Meaning S. said, “You didn’t shake your hips.”

She filed a complaint and is currently awaiting the outcome. She said, “It is indecent if I press my genitals against her and shake my hips,” but it is not “indecent” if I “kick her in the neck and push her down. But “snapping at someone’s neck and knocking him down” does not constitute violence by itself, or does it not constitute assault? The person involved, SANJO S, responded to her question, “I didn’t shake my hips, did I?

At the end of June, she retired. I had longed to be in the Self-Defense Forces.

She said, “In the beginning, I had anger and hatred, but now, I don’t resent the SDF itself. But now, I don’t hold grudges against the SDF itself. I have come to realize that sexual harassment and power harassment are not limited to the unit I was in. I want to fundamentally change the SDF. I want the male members and upper management who call such sexual harassment as communication to change their minds. Without a relationship of trust, we would not be able to work together to rescue people in an emergency situation, such as when we are dispatched to a disaster.

There is a certain unique atmosphere in a superior, homosocial group. They have the arrogance to think that they can do whatever they want to women if they are in a group, and the belief that if they are outnumbered, they can overcome women by force no matter how they resist. Of course, not all individual SDF officers are “male chauvinists and arrogant people. However, we cannot deny the possibility that this organization is a condensation of the fear that men have when they are grouped together.

Some of the men who were shaking their hips that night were carrying heavy things, and they were quick to lend a hand. Even those with such a gentle nature would say that what we perceive as sexual harassment is communication. There is a fundamental misunderstanding. Unless that is improved, the SDF will not get better. I agree.”

She is now busy collecting signatures from supporters and soliciting information from female SDF officers.

Still, she wants to believe in the SDF.

People say, “Why don’t you appeal? …Maybe somewhere I believe in the Self-Defense Forces’ self-cleansing action. I thought that this would be a good opportunity for them to take a step in some positive direction. It may be that I can’t afford the legal fees, but that’s not the only reason. I don’t want to criticize the SDF, I want them to change. To me, the JSDF is an organization that helps people in need. I want them to be like that.

From now on, I want them to think about whether they can do something to prevent sexual harassment, such as installing surveillance cameras, or installing cameras in encampment tents, even if only at night. There are lectures on sexual harassment and power harassment, but there are no experts coming, and people only listen to them as someone else’s problem because they are not aware that they are doing such things. There are news stories about male members who have retired or committed suicide due to bullying or power harassment, aren’t there? I want to ask them if they are okay with that kind of organization.”

Onlookers sometimes ask her why she doesn’t shed a single tear, even though she is a victim of sexual violence. But she has decided not to cry.

She says, “If I cry and appeal, will they get the message? If they say something to me whether I cry or not, I don’t want to cry, I want to tell them in my own words. I don’t want them to feel sorry for me, but I want to tell them the truth and let them know.”

The fight is just beginning, but Ms. Gonoi has a clear sense of purpose. He says he has a plan for what he would like to do when the fight is over in a positive direction.

I don’t know in what form yet, but I want to tell people that judo is a wonderful sport. Also, I myself love to make people laugh, so I would like to be able to do something that will eventually make people who are suffering or in pain smile a little.

Gonoi’s calm tone of voice and her lack of vehemence in talking about the spectacular sexual harassment she suffered in the Self-Defense Forces, which she had longed to join, and the senior “perpetrators” who tried to pretend it had never happened, reveal a calmness and resolve that she has decided to accept. Her life had always been harsh, including the earthquake when she was a child. Still, she accepts everything with a smile, saying, “I guess this is fate,” and looks straight ahead. She says, “I can’t hate the Self-Defense Forces. She still cherishes the support she received in the disaster-stricken areas.

Rina Gonoi is 22 years old. Her straight back and clear eyes are impressive. Her life is just beginning.

When we interviewed Ms. Gonoi, she showed us a picture of her as a child. Her gaze looking straight ahead has not changed.
When we asked Rina Gonoi to “dress in something that is uniquely hers,” she replied, “Judo wear. 22 years old. Her life has just begun. Photo by Yuri Adachi
  • Interview and text by Sanae Kameyama Sanae Kameyama Photographed by Yuri Adachi

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