Japan prosecutors charge 3 ex-SDF officers with indecent assault

Japanese prosecutors have charged three former members of the Ground Self-Defense Force with indecent assault of a female colleague, reversing a previous decision not to indict them.

Prosecutors in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima on Friday charged the three without arrest.

They are accused of pushing Gonoi Rina down on a bed and touching her in August 2021 at Camp Koriyama in Fukushima.

Gonoi reported the case to a GSDF police unit, which referred the three to prosecutors. But prosecutors decided not to indict them in May 2022.

Gonoi quit the GSDF and said she was sexually abused. She also asked an inquest panel to deliberate the matter.

The panel of randomly chosen citizens determined in September that the prosecutors should have carefully examined the reliability of the victim's account -- the only evidence in the case -- before making their decision.

The panel said that a close review of records, however, led it to conclude that the case did not appear to have been thoroughly investigated.

The panel's conclusion led the prosecutors to reopen the investigation. The Defense Ministry conducted its own probe and dismissed the three and two others for involvement in the case in December.