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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 April 10 - 16  > Bereaved family wins state compensation for SDF member’s death
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2013 April 10 - 16 [SDF]

Bereaved family wins state compensation for SDF member’s death

April 15, 2013
The defense ministry on April 12 decided not to appeal a court ruling that ordered the state to compensate the bereaved parents over their son’s death during fight training in the Ground Self-Defense Force. With this, the court judgment has become final.

The accident happened in November 2006 at the Makomanai garrison in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, during a hand-to-hand combat training exercise.

Shimabuku Hideyoshi, a 20-year-old private first class at that time, was forced by a commanding officer to take part in the drill though he was a “beginner” having yet to master even the basics of a defensive fall. He was thrown by his opponent and fell on his back, hitting the back of his head on the floor. He was carried to a hospital, and died of blood leakage in in the brain the next day.

Shimabuku’s parents filed a lawsuit in August 2010 with the Sapporo District Court seeking compensation from the government for their son’s death. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on March 29 of this year. In the decision, the court said that the state failed to fulfill its responsibility to ensure the safety of SDF members. It was also the first judgment to recognize the risk of such rigorous training.

The plaintiffs and their counsel on April 4 made a request to the ministry to forgo taking the case to a higher court.

Questioned about the fight training, Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori said that the administration directed the SDF to put priority on safety following the fatality.

Shimabuku Tsutomu, Hideyoshi’s father, said, “My son won’t come back, but he has given us a big gift with this ruling. To eliminate the possibility of more victims, I demand the SDF put an end to the hand-to-hand combat training immediately.”
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