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Government told to pay ¥65 million over GSDF private’s death during combat drill

Kyodo

The Sapporo District Court ordered the government Friday to pay some ¥65 million in damages to the parents of a Ground Self-Defense Force soldier who died from a blow to the head in a combat drill in November 2006.

The suit was filed by the parents of Pfc. Hideyoshi Shimabuku, 20, who died of acute subdural hematoma after he suffered a blow to the head during a one-on-one drill at the GSDF’s Camp Makomanai in Sapporo.

Presiding Judge Shunichi Ishibashi deemed the GSDF training staff negligent because they were aware of the risks of head blows and knew the victim had little ability to defend himself.

The government argued that the GSDF had paid heed to the safety of the victim, demanding that the court turn down the damages suit, which the parents filed in August 2010 after the three-year statute of limitations ran out.

The parents challenged the developments surrounding the death of their son and filed the suit after seeking information on his death from the GSDF.

A similar suit was settled out of court earlier this month between the government and the next of kin of a Maritime Self-Defense Force petty officer who was killed while being forced to fight 15 other sailors. In the settlement, the government agreed to pay about ¥70 million to his relatives but refused to admit that the fight, which earlier reports said involved martial arts, was meted out as punishment.