JAPAN: Trans-Identified Male Care Worker Sentenced to Prison for Sexually Assaulting, Raping Female Employees

A trans-identified male who sexually assaulted three female employees at a disability support organization, of which he was a representative, has been sentenced to six years in prison for his crimes. Kazumi Watanabe, 57, who claims to “have a woman’s heart,” was sentenced March 27 at the Osaka District Court’s Sakai branch.

Watanabe was first arrested on February 7, 2023, after he was accused of sexual assault by multiple female staff members. At the time of his arrest, Watanabe was the owner and head of Aoi Sodanshitsu, a public company that provided services for disabled or otherwise disadvantaged individuals and their families. The company had an agreement with the municipal government of Takaishi, Osaka Prefecture, which referred people with vulnerabilities to Aoi Sodanshitsu for assistance when needed. Watanabe and his staff would then provide supportive consultations and referrals to relevant welfare services.

According to the indictment, Watanabe sexually assaulted multiple female employees and patrons of the business in 2021, luring them into a vulnerable position under the guise of giving them a “massage.” In order to make his victims comfortable enough to trust him, he’d claim he was not sexually attracted to women and had the “heart of a woman.” After they allowed him to touch their bodies, he would sexually assault them. In at least one of the cases, Watanabe raped a victim by forcible penetration.

One woman, in her forties, was a client of the disabilities counseling project. As Watanabe began to massage her, groping her breasts and genitals, he made comments about touching her “pubic bone,” and suggested he could make her breasts bigger, and made her walk around in her underwear.

In its decision, the District Court stated: “The method of committing the crime under the pretense of a offering a massage by lying about his gender identity was cunning, and the fact that he repeated it clearly showed that he had sexual distortions. He also took advantage of his position. This is a strong condemnation.”

Kazumi Watanabe. Source: Facebook

Watanabe often told others around him that his “body was a man,” but his “heart was a woman.” He dressed in women’s clothing, had manicured nails, and claimed to have “gender dysphoria,” a diagnosis he is not known to officially have.

One of the victims, a woman in her 50s, spoke to local media and said she felt “tricked” by her former employer.

“I was tricked… and he used my weaknesses against me. He played dirty and it’s unforgivable.”

The victim had been working at the company for only a few months when the incident occurred. Part of her work duties included supporting disabled or disadvantaged clients and their families by listening to their concerns and engaging in consultations. She said she had enjoyed her job, which had been directly under Watanabe’s supervision.

The victim explains that in May of 2021, Watanabe approached her while the two were alone in the workplace. He offered her a massage to relieve her stressful posture. While the victim appears to have been reluctant to let Watanabe touch her body at first, the man quickly asserted: “I have gender identity disorder. I’m not interested in female bodies.” 

The woman eventually complied as she was scared to disrespect her boss and lose her job. Her guard lowered because of Watanabe’s claims about his identity, the victim allowed him to massage her. She says it started off with her shoulders, but gradually escalated until Watanabe was touching the lower half of her body. He then assaulted her.

Following the abuse, Watanabe threatened to strip the employee of her certification if she quit. She reported the case to the police following the threat.

Aoi Sodanshitsu, an establishment in Takaishi, Osaka, which provides consultation and support services, headed by Kazumi Watanabe (Mainichi/Minhyang Hong

Another victim, a part-time worker in her 30s, had been lured to a hotel in Osaka under the pretenses that Watanabe, who claimed he was a trained aesthetician, would offer her a massage to help with physical pain. The woman reported being sexually assaulted in the hotel to police, the incident taking place in April 2021.

Watanabe denied the allegations, first by saying, “The woman pulled down her pants and underwear and made him touch her,” but also by claiming that the massage room was “too small for obscene acts.” Watanabe’s defense attorney presented the argument that the women had agreed to the assault.

During court proceedings, the prosecution stated that Watanabe used the trust he had built by operating a counseling support business for people with disabilities in order to take advantage of his position and to commit the sexual crimes against employees and users.

“Not only is this a familiar tactic, but it is also recognized that he took advantage of the victim’s position and tried to hide the crime, which is extremely ugly, and there are no circumstances in Watanabe’s favor,” the prosecuting attorney said.


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Genevieve Gluck

Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.

Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.
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