State to pay in MSDF beating death


The government agreed Tuesday to pay about ¥70 million to relatives of a 25-year-old Maritime Self-Defense Force petty officer who died during a fight he was forced to engage in with 15 fellow sailors in 2008 at an academy in Etajima, Hiroshima Prefecture, judicial sources said.

The agreement was reached in an out-of-court settlement at the Matsuyama District Court between the relatives, who had sought some ¥80 million in damages, and the government, as well as the MSDF trainers. The relatives had wanted the government to admit that the victim had been subjected to the “combat drill” as punishment, but the state refused to allow that claim to be entered on the settlement document.

According to the complaint, the petty officer 3rd class lost consciousness after receiving a blow to the chin during the fight on Sept. 9, 2008. A previous report said it was when he went up against his 14th opponent in the “drill,” which involved a form of martial arts. The victim had been training for a special unit, earlier reports said.

The settlement document noted there was no need to make the victim engage in the fighting, while also conveying the “deep apology” of the trainers. The government also promised to hold a memorial ceremony for the victim and hand down the lessons learned from the incident, according to the sources.

But the document did not touch on the plaintiffs’ argument that the victim was subjected to the drill as a form of punishment, as the government refused to approve it, they said.