Reports that a female Maritime Self-Defense Force member was harassed by a senior soldier, and that the military’s blundering attempt to address the situation only compounded the hurt, underscores the continuing difficulties that the Self-Defense Force faces as it adapts to a new era.

The SDF and the Ministry of Defense must transform their culture if Japan is to have the security that it needs in these dangerous times, and more importantly and of immediate concern, meet faltering recruitment goals.

The harassment of the soldier, which occurred from August to December 2022 and involved unwanted touching and lewd comments, resulted in her resignation. It was revealed this week that in dealing with the situation, the victim was forced by a senior officer to meet with and receive an apology from the offender, even though she had no desire to see him. Nor did the officer inform his superiors of the complaint.