Four male officers of the Kanagawa prefectural police have admitted to sexually harassing a fellow female officer this March, forcing her to take off her clothes and giving her an unwanted kiss, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The prefectural police announced Friday that it will soon punish the four officers, but said it was “impossible to build a case” for a criminal investigation. According to a senior officer of the prefectural police, the four officers–all in their 30s–worked at Yamato Police Station.
One was a police sergeant in the criminal affairs No. 2 division and is now working at the organized crime control division for the prefectural police. The others are a sergeant in the traffic No. 2 division, an assistant police inspector in the criminal affairs No. 2 division, and a senior officer in the criminal affairs No. 1 division.
In early March, the sergeant from the criminal affairs No. 2 division called the female officer, who is in her 20s, from a karaoke complex in Yamato and requested that she join them. As it had been decided that she would be transferred to a new section, the sergeant told her they would be holding a farewell party for her.
The sergeant said he was acquainted with someone at her new office, the female officer reportedly said in a police inquiry. “I responded to the call because I was afraid it might adversely affect work at my new office [if I didn't go].”
By the time she arrived at the karaoke box, the four had already started drinking. There were only the five of them in the room and all were off duty. Sometime later, the sergeant from the traffic No. 2 division forcibly kissed her cheek while taking a picture with her on a cellphone.
The sergeant from the criminal affairs No. 2 division also ordered her to strip and change clothes with the traffic sergeant. After initially refusing, she eventually took off her blouse and pants before changing into the traffic sergeant’s shirt and pants.
The other two officers were not directly involved in the harassment, according to the police investigation. After transferring to a new section this spring, the female officer reported the incident to her new boss.
At the police hearings, she reportedly said, “We should not let the matter go for the sake of younger female officers.” However, she has not submitted an offense report. The four officers have admitted the events took place and showed remorse, saying it was a prank that went too far.
Shinpei Nawa, director of police administration of the prefectural police, said: “We concluded it’s not possible to build a case after conducting an investigation of the facts and discussing the matter with our investigation division. We’ll handle this properly upon receiving the results of the investigation.”
2 officers to be sanctioned
According to Friday’s announcement, the prefectural police will soon take disciplinary action against the two officers who directly harassed the female officer, and is considering punishments for the two others.
Meanwhile, Jin Matsubara, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, expressed regret Friday after the Cabinet meeting.
There has been a series of recently uncovered scandals involving police officers, including one in which an assistant police inspector of the Fukuoka prefectural police was arrested for allegedly receiving bribes from men who were likely affiliated with a crime syndicate.
“These are the serious issues that could undermine the public’s confidence [in police] and eventually harm public safety,” Matsubara said.