Waseda University Ex-Professor ordered to pay damages for sexual harassment

FRIDAY, APRIL 07, 2023

The Tokyo District Court has ordered Waseda University and Naomi Watanabe, a literary critic and former professor at the university, to pay ¥550,000 in damages to a former graduate school student for sexual harassment.

Rena Fukazawa, 32, currently a writer, filed a lawsuit with the court against Watanabe, 71, and the university claiming a total of ¥5.5 million in damages. Watanabe was a professor at the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences where Fukazawa had been a student.

Tokyo District Court Judge Kokoro Nakamura ruled Thursday that Watanabe made sexually offensive remarks to Fukazawa, saying that he “violated the plaintiff’s personal rights and deprived her of the benefits of learning in a positive learning environment.”

Fukazawa enrolled in the graduate school’s Creative Writing and Criticism Course in April 2016. The court ruled that Watanabe, who was Fukuzawa’s academic advisor, made several sexually suggestive statements, such as saying, “After you graduate, I’m going to make you my woman” at a restaurant in April 2017.

Fukazawa dropped out of the school in March 2018 and in July of that year, Watanabe was dismissed by the university for sexual harassment.

The court ruled that Watanabe’s remarks were “illegal and beyond the limits of being socially acceptable” and had caused Fukazawa to suffer tremendous emotional distress. It found both Watanabe and the university were liable for damages.

The university was ordered to pay an additional ¥55,000 aside from the ¥550,000 in compensation for the actions of another professor, who, consulted by Fukazawa, instead said she was partly to blame for what occurred.

While pursuing her career as a writer, Fukazawa founded the “Don’t Overlook Harassment at Universities” association in 2020, through which she disseminates information about sexual harassment and other incidents at universities.

“I hope the university will not repeat the same mistake,” Fukazawa said at a press conference in Tokyo after the ruling.

The lawyer representing Watanabe said, “He deeply regrets what he said [to her], and we would like to discuss a response.” The university released a statement saying, “We sincerely and deeply apologize to the victim.”

The Japan News

Asia News Network