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Editorial: Nagasaki's response in blaming sexual assault victim totally irresponsible

The Nagasaki District Court ruled in favor of a female journalist who was sexually assaulted by a city official and ordered the Nagasaki Municipal Government to pay compensation. The reporter also experienced secondary victimization, and is still suffering 15 years after the incident. The cruelty of the case is immeasurable.

    The ruling recognized that the now-deceased senior official assaulted the reporter by acting as if he were cooperating with her to take the interview. It concluded that the official took advantage of the reporter's circumstances, which made it difficult for her to reject the interviewee's intention.

    The district court acknowledged the city's liability for hindering the journalist's work. The reporter developed post-traumatic stress disorder, and was forced to take a leave of absence, becoming unable to work the way she did before.

    Furthermore, disinformation such as that the reporter had "given her consent" was reported in a weekly magazine, and the woman was exposed to false accusations. A city executive who was close to the male official had been spreading the rumors in interviews with a weekly magazine and elsewhere.

    The ruling also acknowledged the city's responsibility for damages due to such secondary victimization. The court pointed out that the municipal government neglected to provide guidance to its officials so that their words and actions do not cause further damage to the victim.

    Moreover, the Nagasaki Municipal Government should be criticized for the fact that it argued during the trial that "though she had been sexually harassed by the senior official before, the reporter prioritized the interview and did not take appropriate action."

    In sexual violence cases, it is the perpetrator who should be blamed. However, there is deep-rooted prejudice in Japanese society that victims may also be at fault. The city's claim is inappropriate as it can encourage such victim blaming.

    Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue announced that the city does not plan to appeal the ruling, and said, "I would like to apologize to the journalist." He also indicated his intention to take measures to prevent a recurrence. The municipal government must sincerely accept the fact that the reporter suffered further damage because the city refused to address the problem for a long time, and take serious measures.

    There are endless cases of female journalists being sexually harassed by interviewees. Some cases may not have even surfaced. People have become victims of sexual assault in similar positions, such as recruiters and students searching for jobs, directors and actors, bosses and their subordinates, and teachers and students.

    Sexual violence and harassment in which the perpetrator abuses their position of superiority should not be tolerated. Efforts to abolish such incidents must be promoted by society as a whole.

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