Kyoto University Took Time Reporting Rape to Protect the Perpetrators

June 3, 2009

By now, I assume that the big gang rape incident at prestigious Kyoto University (link goes to news story in Japanese) is international news, and I would not like to go into the details of the incident. However, of interest to students of the media and society in Japan are the reasons that Kyoto University of Education used to explain not having brought the crime to the attention of police in a timely fashion.

Arrested were six male members of Kyoto University of Education sports teams, including members of the (American) football team, the track and field team, the handball team, and the soccer team. They met the victim at a “kompa” or a party at which males and females of the same number get together with the intention of finding a boyfriend of girlfriend. Other than the six perpetrators, there were reportedly several other people there who had knowledge of, and could have prevented or put a stop to the crime.

The party at which the rape happened occurred on February 25th of this year. Kyoto University of Education officially knew of the incident in March. The university decided not to report the incident to police and to deal with it independently. Although the university decided to deal with the matter internally, officials also deny that Kyoto University of Education is in any way responsible in the matter because the party was not organized by the university.

The crime was never publicly announced by the university because officials said they were concerned that the perpetrators would try to hurt themselves (or commit suicide). The perpetrators were given open-ended suspensions from the university at the end of March. (Note: not expulsion!) Some of them were seniors, but I have not been able to find whether they were allowed to graduate (which would have happened in February or March).

The students involved were education majors. Most of them were future gym teachers. Teachers and coaches in the physical education department also reportedly could not agree that this was a case of rape and that (supposedly) also prevented the crime from being reported to police.

I have reported about countless cases when something happened at a university or school, and nothing is done until it is far too late. Although there is no mention in the article, my personal concern about the story is the victim. What happened to the victim in this case? Did she quit school? Will she be able to finish? What of the other people who were at the party, and according to the news, “could have prevented or stopped the crime”. Will they be prosecuted or sued? Probably not, but I would like to see the punishment fit the crime in this case.

There have been other cases in the news of a similar nature; the Keio University Med students who gang raped a student from another university during a “kompa” party at a karaoke shop, and others. I have been looking for verification of this, but I heard that many of them simply transferred to less well-known medical schools and are now working as doctors. There are also accounts of parties at well-known universities designed to set up rape situations. Here is an article from the Times Online in 2003 about some of the rapes that have occured in universities in Japan.

We need openness, and a country in which victims of crimes can feel that if they talk to someone about what happened to them, they can at least get some sort of vindication, rather than being victimized again by the system.


1 George Donnelly June 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm

OMG this is so disgusting.

2 jay June 3, 2009 at 11:47 pm

One would think that there would be repercussions for the university for having gone three months without reporting a major crime to the police, but it seems one would be wrong.

3 George Donnelly June 3, 2009 at 11:57 pm

It’s amazing what can be gotten away with these days. Might makes right.