Open Letter to the International University of Japan (IUJ)

OPEN LETTER

President Kimio Kase, International University of Japan (IUJ)

Vice President Jay Rajasekera, IUJ

Dean Li Wenkai, IUJ

Oslo, 25 July 2016

Revised, Nuremberg, 27 July 2016

Dear President Kase, Vice President Rajasekera, Dean Li,

Re: IUJ’s handling of an alleged incident of sexual assault on campus last year

I am writing this open letter concerning two particular aspects of the titular subject, namely, IUJ’s interaction with the police during its investigation, and the announcement of disciplinary measures in the aftermath.

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Interaction with the police

On 20 July 2016, IUJ issued a press release in Japanese (this being the official version) as well as in English. According to the latter, IUJ took measures “in cooperation with the police”:

On December 19, an incident took place in which a male student (Z) entered the room of a female student (A). The University ... in cooperation with the police and officials, took disciplinary measures to prevent the recurrence of similar cases.

[I]n cooperation with the police and other relevant agencies in the early stage of the investigation, measures were taken such as relocating student Z from the student dormitory outside the campus in order to protect student A.

We at the university think that there is a possibility that this matter may constitute a criminal case, but are not aware at this moment whether the incident was reported to the police.

The following question is for Vice President Rajasekera. Would you kindly take a look at the texts shown in Block Quote A?

Block Quote A

It is always the right of students to consult the police. IUJ is not equipped or trained for police investigative work, and can only address information the investigation committee can collect, which is primarily in interview style. We agree that contacting the police in cases like this can be a very good idea if the victim is willing to do so.

We are not sure why some of you feel there is a cover up ... The police were consulted by IUJ 7 times as well.

• How IUJ consulted with police

o On 4th January IUJ’s secretary general talked to the police about the incident; the police explained that no action could be taken by them unless the alleged victim came to the police first for consultation, based on which the police would decide how to proceed;

o On 7th January IUJ’s Student Service offered to help the girl to go to the police to seek out advice on safety, to which she responded by email that she would not go;

o Altogether, IUJ informed the police to keep them posted of the situation 7 times (Jan 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 16);

o After the IUJ decisions were made and announced (Jan. 6), and the various parties informed, additional evidence allegedly emerged (Jan. 13) and the victim was encourage to seek out advice from the police noting that IUJ could not conduct any forensics based investigation. The victim and her family decided not to do that but to consult with their embassy.

Would you kindly confirm that the same texts are found in various parts of your Facebook message posted on 21 July 2016, Vice President Rajasekera?

The following questions are for President Kase. Would you kindly take a look at the texts shown in Block Quotes B and C?

Block Quote B

With this we have one more complication, namely the Afghan student versus [REDACTED]. If so, this may become a police issue and we will have to inform the local police before anything happens. If we do so, we have to be prepared that the issue will get out of our hands and become a public affair. All this seems to be becoming a SNAFU.

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote B were sent out to members of IUJ’s board and investigation committee on 1 January 2016, could such an e-mail message show that its sender did not wish to inform the police?

If such an e-mail message were sent out, could it indicate its sender’s preference to avoid police involvement for fear of adverse publicity?

Block Quote C

Pls be advised, all of you, of the following message.

Reporting to the police and the resultant publication of the issue by the media would certainly affect the flow of scholarships in such a way that the survival of IUJ might be in jeopardy.

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote C were sent out to members of IUJ’s board and senior management on 2 January 2016, could such an e-mail message show its sender’s fear that reporting to the police and ensuing publicity might jeopardize IUJ’s survival?

If e-mail messages like the texts shown in Block Quotes B and C were sent out to members of IUJ’s board, investigation committee and senior management on 1 and 2 January 2016, could such e-mail messages be inconsistent with IUJ’s attitude towards police involvement as implied in IUJ’s 20 July 2016 press release and Vice President Rajasekera’s explanations?

If such e-mail messages were sent out on 1 and 2 January 2016, could they rather show their senders’ desire to avoid police involvement for fear of adverse publicity and financial jeopardy?

On 1 and 2 January 2016, did you send e-mail messages like the texts shown in Block Quotes B and C to members of IUJ’s board, investigation committee and senior management, President Kase?

The following question is for Dean Li. Would you kindly take a look at the text shown in Block Quote D?

Block Quote D

My opinion:

I think reporting to the police should be the last thing to do. Such news are being sought after eagerly by many Journalists.

[REDACTED] is getting impatient and not fully aware of the consequences after the issue becoming public.

We should tell [REDACTED] and reassure her that, IUJ is 100% safe for her after her return on Jan. 5.

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote D were sent out to members of IUJ’s board and senior management on 2 January 2016, could such an e-mail message show that its sender preferred to avoid police involvement for fear of adverse publicity and to discourage the victim from reporting to the police on her own?

On 2 January 2016, did you send an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote D to members of IUJ’s board and senior management, Dean Li?

The following questions are for President Kase. Would you kindly take a look at the texts shown in Block Quotes E and F, as well as the text shown in Image G?

Block Quote E

[REDACTED],

We are feeling dizzy with attacks and counterattacks between you and the Afghan student.

We have been organising an investigating committee; I personally visited and talked to the dorm director to put in place some kind of protection to you; we have been discussing among the faculty members related, etc. My holidays are being lost on this issue.

Now you say we are not taking decision; we cannot, because the issue requires to fill up certain procedure and steps. The professors and staff are on holidays. My intention is to get the committee report by the second week of January after they come back from their holidays.

Reporting to the police would further complicate the issue. The notoriety of the case might damage all of us, you, IUJ, etc. You will have to undergo grilling questioning by the police; we will have to submit a report to them about our dormitory management.

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote E were sent out to the victim and some members of IUJ’s investigation committee on 2 January 2016, could such an e-mail message show that its sender was actively discouraging the victim from reporting to the police on her own?

Block Quote F

As preparations for a visit next week by the victim’s father,

1) First of all, have [REDACTED] go to the Indonesian Embassy and explain,

2) Through [REDACTED], secure some statement (?) to the effect that the police would find it difficult to investigate matters beyond the facts that had formed the basis for IUJ’s decisions,

3) Speak with witnesses from before and after the incident. Include the fact that the victim made statements to her friends in the morning of the incident (in other words, she rather enjoyed it, etc.).

What we need her father to understand is,

4) The existence of a sexual attack cannot be proven since there is no witness or evidence,

5) We collect information regarding the actions and circumstances of the offender and the victim, however, we did not use it since making it public would reveal circumstances detrimental not only to the offender but also to the victim,

6) We are taking measures to protect the female student, and reforming dormitories.

Image G 

Would you agree that the English text shown in Block Quote F is an adequate translation of the Japanese text shown in Image G, President Kase?

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Image G were sent out to members of IUJ’s board, investigation committee and administration on 2 January 2016, could such an e-mail message show that its sender was not only attempting to obtain an undertaking of non-investigation from the police beyond IUJ’s own fact-finding efforts, but also attempting to gather evidence unfavorable to the victim, and attempting to persuade the victim’s father that IUJ would not have a case of sexual attack?

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote E were sent out to the victim and some members of IUJ’s investigation committee on 2 January 2016, and if an e-mail message like the text shown in Image G were sent out to members of IUJ’s board, investigation committee and administration on 2 January 2016, could such e-mail messages be inconsistent with IUJ’s attitude towards police involvement as implied in IUJ’s 20 July 2016 press release and Vice President Rajasekera’s explanations?

Could such e-mail messages also be inconsistent with Vice President Rajasekera’s professed agreement that “contacting the police in cases like this can be a very good idea if the victim is willing to do so”?

If such e-mail messages were sent out on 2 January 2016, could they rather indicate their senders’ determination to avoid police involvement and to undermine the victim’s case?

On 2 January 2016, did you send an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote E to the victim and some members of IUJ’s investigation committee, and an e-mail message like the text shown in Image G to members of IUJ’s board, investigation committee and administration, President Kase?

Events of 10 January 2016

According to the Asahi Newspaper article published on 16 July 2016 (English translation mine):

The female student objected, citing “the investigation’s lack of fairness and denigration of women”. Together with friends and others, she began collecting signatures demanding the male student’s expulsion and petitioned the fact-finding committee to re-investigate the incident. The committee did not do so, however, and the male student was suspended for three months. On 10 January this year, the president sent an e-mail to all students in which he announced the disciplinary measure imposed on the male student and stated that “no spreading rumors, name calling or retaliation of any kind shall be permitted” and that “anyone found to have engaged in such behavior risks immediate ejection from the university”.

The petition stopped, following the president’s e-mail. One male student who signed the petition told the Asahi Newspaper: “I was very scared. I am unhappy with the investigation that has left the facts unclear and the victim feeling blamed for the incident, but my life will be adversely affected if I cannot graduate”.

Although it is not entirely clear, the following passages from IUJ’s 20 July 2016 press release appear to discuss the events around 10 January 2016:

[T]he following occurred: the afore-mentioned destruction of the university’s property by violent acts [on 6 January 2016], the use of unauthorized use of the student representatives’ e-mail account, and the dissemination of information which affected the privacy of the persons concerned. The university warned, based on the relevant rules, against these excessive acts by using the wording such as “could face immediate expulsion” in the understanding that “expulsion,” “suspension” and “reprimand” may be within the range of punishment to be imposed.

The feeling of uncertainty and insecurity felt around mid-January among the students was eased and the atmosphere on the campus went back to normal thanks to the measures taken by the university.

The following question is for Vice President Rajasekera. Would you kindly take a look at the texts shown in Block Quote H?

Block Quote H

The Asahi article relied on an English e-mail messages sent out by the IUJ president. The intent of that email was misconstrued. It was indeed harshly worded, but the intent was to protect the victim and the accused from rumor spreading and verbal, physical and SMS attacks that could have hurt their reputation and divided campus.

The message to the students was actually directed to those quarrelling groups.

Would you kindly confirm that the same texts are found in various parts of your Facebook message posted on 21 July 2016, Vice President Rajasekera?

The following questions are for President Kase. Would you kindly take a look at the text shown in Block Quote J?

Block Quote J

Dear IUJ Community,

I write to report to you recent disciplinary action taken under the “Regulation for Procedures of Disciplinary Actions of Students (Translation).” 

As stipulated in Article 16, and for community educational advisory purposes, disciplinary action following a Formal Investigations Committee formation, must be informed to the community at the level deemed appropriate by the IUJ president.

As part of this announcement, I find it necessary to add that any rumor spreading, name calling, or retaliation of any kind will not be tolerated, and anyone demonstrating such behavior could face immediate expulsion from IUJ.

Notification of Disciplinary Action

In accordance with “International University of Japan Regulation for Procedures of Disciplinary Action of Students (Translation)” the following disciplinary action will be imposed on a student for the reasons outlined:

Disciplinary Action: Suspension

Period of Suspension: 3 months from January 4, 2016 until April 3, 2016

Misconduct: Article 5 (7-a), Acts contrary to the duties of students: … other behavior resulting in a serious situation (“behavior” in this case is inappropriately entering another student’s dormitory room without invitation or consent).

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote J were sent out on 10 January 2016, could such an e-mail message make it unlikely:

  • That its intended recipients were anyone other than all members of the IUJ community, as indicated at the text’s outset and as informing the “community” under Article 16 referred to in the second substantive paragraph would imply?
  • That its recipients understood the acts warned against in the third substantive paragraph to be anything other than any rumor spreading, name calling, or retaliation of any kind committed in connection with the disciplinary action notified, as issuing a warning “[a]s part of this announcement” referred to in the same paragraph would imply?
  • That its recipients understood the disciplinary measure mentioned in the third substantive paragraph to be anything other than immediate expulsion from IUJ?
  • That its recipients found it obvious that the warning contained in the third substantive paragraph was issued based on IUJ’s relevant rules?

If an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote J were sent out to all members of the IUJ community on 10 January 2016, could such an e-mail message be inconsistent with the relevant events as described in IUJ’s 20 July 2016 press release and Vice President Rajasekera’s explanations?

If such a message were sent out on 10 January 2016, could it rather indicate its sender’s intention to prohibit spreading of rumors, name calling and retaliation of any kind in connection with the disciplinary action notified, on pain of immediate expulsion?

On 10 January 2016, did you send an e-mail message like the text shown in Block Quote J to all members of the IUJ community, President Kase?

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I would be grateful for your public reply to the aforementioned questions.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Sincerely,

Nobuo Hayashi

Disclosure

I taught public international law, international humanitarian law/international criminal law, and the international law on recourse to force, as visiting professor at IUJ from 2005 until 2015. IUJ declined to engage me for the 2015-2016 academic year, an offer I would have been unable to accept in any case for overriding family obligations.

I do not know any of the parties involved in the incident itself, nor any of the university officials involved in the wider episode (at least to the best of my knowledge). As a former visiting faculty member, I am now simply a very concerned third party.

Updates

26 July 2016 - Two persons - I presume they are both IUJ alumni - have noted elsewhere that I “ha[ve] written total 7 posts on huff blog since [I] started blogging on April 2015 of which 3 are on the iuj incident in the past 7 days”, and that “[I] would do better if [I] used all that raw brain power in something productive for [my]self and the society [I] belong to”.

They are right, of course. I could have continued to write about nuclear weapons issues instead. That would have been more productive for myself and for the society I belong to.

In fact, none of those gravely concerned about IUJ’s handling of the incident should have had to spend any of their time worrying, asking uncomfortable questions, and quarrelling about it, if only the university had done a more proper job in the first place.

Obviously, I can only speak for myself. I feel compelled to sacrifice some of my daily life and time to do other things, for two reasons. First, IUJ’s integrity is a matter that is near and dear to my heart. However, integrity is something one earns and practices, not something one simply claims or assumes. If it is questioned, the proper course of action is to address it upfront, not bury it.

Second, the alleged misconduct is extremely serious. If true, it would indeed seriously undermine IUJ’s integrity. I cannot in good conscience pretend otherwise.

26 July 2016 - I removed one of the possible interpretations suggested under Image G, namely, that it could indicate that the sender of an e-mail message like the text shown in it was actively discouraging the victim from reporting to the police on her own. A possible interpretation under Block Quote E already covers this idea in any event.

 

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