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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 February 3 - 9  > Family of SDF member who attempted suicide sues central gov’t
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2016 February 3 - 9 [SDF]

Family of SDF member who attempted suicide sues central gov’t

February 4, 2016
The family of a member of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), who had attempted to kill himself after suffering from his senior officers’ acts of violence, filed a lawsuit on February 3 with the Yamaguchi District Court, seeking compensation from the central government.

The plaintiffs are family members of Sakakura Masanori, 42, an MSDF Lieutenant Junior Grade. They are demanding 35 million yen in damages, claiming that the national government had overlooked the superiors’ acts of violence toward Masanori, which constitutes a breach of the responsibility to ensure the safety of SDF members.

Masanori joined the MSDF in April 2000. He was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade in 2009 and then served as a submarine engineer and radar operator. Since around 2011, his senior officers had repeatedly abused Masanori by punching and kicking him, saying that he was slow in his work. After a while, he began to suffer from depression.

Early in the morning of September 2, 2013, on a submarine anchored at the Kure Naval Base in Hiroshima Prefecture, Masanori put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Upon hearing the sound, a chief engineer rushed to the scene and called an ambulance. Masanori was immediately taken to Hiroshima University Hospital and received emergency medical treatment. Fortunately, he had a narrow escape from death, but he is bedridden with a cervical spine injury.

After that, the MSDF authorities suspended one of the officers from duty for 10 days for attacking Masanori. However, the authorities have concealed these facts under the pretext that the victim’s family does not want to make it public.

In the submitted petition, Masanori’s parents criticize the MSDF for justifying violence against its personnel under the guise of “instruction” and trying to avoid criticism only by imposing a very mild punishment on the offenders. They also condemn the SDF’s obsession with secrecy, noting that it is simply false that they want to cover the fact up.

At a press conference after the filing, Sakakura Takanori, Masanori’s elder brother, said, “Violence is rampant in the SDF. I doubt that the SDF can really protect people’s lives while driving its members to attempt suicide. I’ll continue to work to eradicate violence in the SDF.”

Past related article:
> Defense Academy student sues his upperclassmen for bullying [August 8, 2014]
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