Rina Gonoi

Japan: Rina Gonoi ruling a rare victory for sexual assault victims

Responding to a Japanese court finding three former soldiers guilty of sexually assaulting a female colleague, Rina Gonoi, Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher Boram Jang said:

“Rina Gonoi dared to speak out to break the cycle of impunity for gender-based violence in Japan. This is a rare victory not just for her, but for all victims and survivors of sexual assault in Japan, many of whom suffer in silence.

“This landmark ruling is an encouraging sign as Japan finally begins to introduce legal reforms on sex crimes. However, the country still has a long way to go to change both the criminal justice system and the culture of victim-blaming that undermines the credibility of survivors. The stigma and harmful stereotypes faced by survivors of gender-based violence must be eliminated.

“This backdrop contributes to a widespread fear of speaking out among sexual assault survivors, along with low rates of prosecution or dropped cases – all of which underline Rina Gonoi’s bravery throughout this daunting and challenging process.”


Fukushima District Court today found three ex-soldiers guilty of sexually assaulting female colleague Rina Gonoi, whose case drew international attention when she posted her story on YouTube in 2022.

A former member of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces, Rina Gonoi also filed a civil lawsuit in June 2023 against five former soldiers for mental distress caused by sexual violence committed against her during her military service, and against the government for failing to prevent or properly investigate the assaults.

A report on a subsequent investigation commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, published in August, found an entrenched culture of harassment, including sexual harassment, in the military.

Japan’s parliament passed amendments to the Penal Code in June, recognizing  non-consensual sexual intercourse as rape for the first time and raising the age of sexual consent from 13 to 16. The statute of limitations for reporting rape was extended from 10 to 15 years.