A Japanese court has given a medical student who raped a female student who was too drunk to resist a suspended prison term, provoking outrage among women’s rights groups.
The Chiba District Court on Thursday sentenced Mineto Masuda, 23, to three years, suspended for five years, for raping the woman at his apartment in Chiba city in September. Prosecutors had sought a four-year prison term.
Yuji Fujisaka, a former doctor at Chiba University Hospital, was found guilty of indecent conduct and sentenced to two years, suspended for three years, in connection with the same incident.
Two other medical students at Chiba University, Kensuke Yamada and Masaya Yoshimoto, are currently on trial for gang rape over the attack.
In his ruling, Judge Noriaki Yoshimura said Masuda “assaulted the victim” despite the woman repeatedly rejecting his advances after she had been plied with drink by the other defendants.
But the judge decided to suspend the sentence on the grounds that “the crime was impulsive and not premeditated”. He added that the defendant “regretted his acts and can be corrected”.
The ruling has been me with shock and anger, with Sumire Hamada, head of the Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Centre, saying she is “furious about this ruling, but also at all the other similar cases that have happened before”.
“I also fear there could be a backlash from Japanese society against women who speak out against their attackers,” she added.
“The root cause of the problem is that there is insufficient sex education in Japanese schools so most young men do not know how to approach a woman,” Hamada said. Sentences such as this do nothing to communicate that such behaviour is unacceptable, she said.
Japan’s internet users were similarly horrified, with commentators on the Japan Today web site expressing broad disgust at the sentence.
“Slap on the wrists … this sends such a wrong message,” wrote Yubaru.
A user named Kurisupisu commented, “So what is the message here? If you’re a doctor then it’s OK to rape someone?”
Another commentator suggested the judge had set a legal precedent permitting “spontaneous rape”, while one contributor said the ruling was “Disgusting to see in this day and age. Justice has not been served, once again.”
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Anger as rapist gets suspended sentence