National

Two MSDF officers commit suicide on overseas training voyage; harassment denied

Kyodo

Two Maritime Self-Defense Force officers committed suicide on two separate ships during a six-month training voyage that began in May, informed sources said Wednesday.

According to the MSDF, the men hanged themselves in September and October while on a long-haul voyage to the United States, Europe and Asia. The trip was part of a training program for personnel who had the potential to become high-ranking officers.

One belonged the destroyer Asagiri and the other belonged to the training vessel Setoyuki. Their identities have not been released. One is thought to have been harassed by his superiors or peers and left a suicide note expressing his frustration, the sources said.

The MSDF said it investigated the suicides and found no evidence of bullying. It said the officer on the Asagiri was in his 20s and the one on the Setoyuki was in his 40s.

On this voyage, around 190 young officers were aboard the Asagiri, the Setoyuki, and another training ship, the Kashima.

The commander of the mission has been reassigned, effective Tuesday, but the MSDF said this is simply a “routine personnel change.”

The MSDF has made headlines in recent years regarding suicides linked to assaults or power harassment.

In 2014, a seaman on a destroyer committed suicide after being assaulted and harassed by a superior.

In 2004, a 21-year-old seaman on another MSDF destroyer killed himself after being assaulted by a petty officer.