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Japan: Three former Japanese soldiers charged with sexual assault

A Japanese court on Friday indicted three former soldiers for sexually assaulting a female colleague and is suing the government for failing to prevent the acts, local media reported.

Rina Junoi, 23, publicly denounced in 2022 that she had been assaulted by several male colleagues, after an investigation into her claims was dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Friday’s decision by Fukushima district prosecutors, where Ms. Jonui was previously appointed, marks a reversal from their initial conclusion not to press charges.

A spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office told AFP the decision could not be confirmed by telephone.

“Today the three people have been accused of sexual assault against me… I finally feel that (my efforts) have paid off because I have been in pain every day,” Gonoy wrote on Twitter.

“I want them to realize that what they did was a crime and to atone for their sins,” she added.

And in February, Gonoye told AFP that during a workout in 2021, three of her colleagues stretched her out on the floor, spread her braces, and each took turns pressing her crotch against her, an incident she reported to her superiors.

However, an internal investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence, and the file was not opened again and a criminal investigation was opened only after it was disclosed and a petition was initiated.

After her accusations were released via video on YouTube in June, more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for an independent investigation, which she submitted in August to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

The ministry has since acknowledged the assault and apologized.

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For Ms. Junoi, who had dreamed since childhood of joining the Japan Self-Defense Forces, speaking out about the inaction surrounding her assault was a painful decision.

“It was the last resort,” she told AFP, adding that she was “more desperate than brave.”

The ex-soldier is also prosecuting the government and the perpetrators for the “superficial” apologies and mistreatment it has received.