Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Government liable for sailor's suicide

"FUKUOKA (Kyodo) The Fukuoka High Court ordered the government Monday to pay ¥3.5 million in damages to the parents of a Maritime Self-Defense Force sailor who hanged himself in 1999, ruling his suicide resulted from a ranking officer's repeated browbeating.

"Overturning a lower court rejection of the parents' ¥20 million suit, presiding Judge Koji Maki ruled that the 21-year-old petty officer third class "killed himself as a result of depression, which was caused by stress from the superior's insulting remarks and actions."

""The superior's actions were intended to defame the (sailor) and led to the excessive accumulation of psychological burdens on him," Maki said. "It was beyond something that can be called an instruction."

"The ranking officer repeatedly told the victim: "You are not qualified to be a petty officer third class" and "Are you dumb?" from late August 1999 until the man hanged himself aboard the destroyer Sawagiri, home-ported at the MSDF's Sasebo base in Nagasaki Prefecture, during drills off Shikoku that Nov. 8, the high court said.

""I believe many other SDF members are in a situation similar to my son's," the sailor's father told reporters after the ruling. "To avoid repeating similar incidents, the government should not take the ruling to the Supreme Court."

"Other bullying cases resulting in suicide that are pending in district courts, such as in Yokohama and Shizuoka, may be affected by the Fukuoka ruling, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.

""It is the first court ruling that recognizes the government's violation of its obligation of ensuring security for national public servants over their psychological burdens," said Ryuji Nishida, who headed the parents' legal team.

"In June 2005, the Nagasaki District Court's Sasebo branch ruled that "the superior's remarks and actions were within the scope of an instruction and the sailor killed himself because of mental fatigue as his frustration mounted against his own slow progress in training," while recognizing the officer's remarks were not appropriate."

By Japan Times (8/26/2008), Link to article (last visited 8/26/2008)

1 comment:

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