A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the Nagasaki prefectural government to pay damages to an American woman who claimed she was sexually harassed while working as an assistant language teacher at a prefectural high school.
The Nagasaki District Court ordered the local government to pay 500,000 yen ($3,800) in damages to Hannah Martin, who had sought 2 million yen, saying she had suffered mental anguish due to sexual harassment by a vice principal and a male assistant language teacher.
Presiding Judge Daigo Furukawa said the male assistant language teacher made "a sexual move against the plaintiff's will" and recognized the prefectural government's liability over the case.
According to the ruling, he held Martin by her shoulders and kissed her on the neck at his residence while preparing for a school event in 2018. The man, who was working at another prefectural high school, was subsequently admonished by its principal.
The court also recognized that the then vice principal of a prefectural high school where she worked once a week made sexual remarks to her at a party held after a school festival in 2016.
But it did not hold the local government liable, deeming it fulfilled its obligation to take steps over the incident after the vice principal offered an apology and his and her seating arrangements at the school were changed.
Following the ruling, the prefectural government said it will review the ruling and consider its response.
In October, Martin told a press conference that the prefectural board of education had asked her to refrain from going to the police when she lodged her complaint.
Having told the court she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and even thought of committing suicide, Martin said she hopes that her case can serve as an opportunity for Japan to create a safe workspace for foreign women who come to work in the country.
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