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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 April 23 - May 6  > Gov’t ordered to pay compensation for MSDF sailor’s suicide
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2014 April 23 - May 6 [SDF]

Gov’t ordered to pay compensation for MSDF sailor’s suicide

April 24, 2014
The Tokyo High Court on April 23 overturned the lower court decision disclaiming state responsibility for the bullying-induced suicide of a 21-year-old Maritime Self-Defense Force seaman, and ordered the state to pay about 73 million yen in compensation to his bereaved family.

The man joined the MSDF in 2003 and was assigned to the destroyer Tachikaze stationed at the MSDF Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture. He killed himself in October 2004 as a result of repeated bullying from a senior crew member. His suicide note stated the bully’s name.

His parents in 2006 filed with the Yokohama District Court a damage suit against the state, claiming that the MSDF neglected its duty to stop the bully from repeatedly attacking their son.

In preparation for the suit, the sailor’s bereaved family found that just after their son’s death, the MSDF conducted a survey of all crew members of the Tachikaze about the bullying allegation. In the first trial, in response to the plaintiffs’ request for disclosure of the survey results, the military authorities said that they already destroyed the survey data.

In November 2011, the Yokohama District Court in its ruling only acknowledged a causal relationship between the suicide and the bullying. The plaintiffs appealed to the higher court against the ruling.

After the plaintiffs’ appeal, an MSDF lieutenant commander via the mass media blew the whistle on his organization for concealing the survey data. The MSDF finally admitted that they still have the survey results.

The court appeal focused on whether the sailor’s suicide was predictable or not. The survey results gave testimonies as to not only the causal connection between the suicide and the bullying but also the predictability of the suicide.

The high court judged that the MSDF illegally kept secret the survey results.

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