The dearth of on-campus resources to support survivors of sexual assault at Temple University Japan is alarming.
The TUJ handbook has nothing written in it regarding sexual assault, and Japan’s sexual assault law has not changed since 1907.
It is problematic that cultural barriers and a 14-hour time difference stand between students who have been sexually assaulted and the resources they need. It is imperative that the university offers the same support to students studying on Main Campus and internationally.
On Main Campus, students who have been sexually assaulted are encouraged to access the Women Organized Against Rape satellite office by calling a 24-hour hotline. A representative from the crisis center will meet with survivors in person and offer services, like counseling and advice on how to report a sexual assault.
Andrea Seiss, Temple’s IX coordinator, is responsible for handling all sexual assault cases at the university and is based on Main Campus.
“I don’t think [Main Campus staff members] realize how small the TUJ campus is,” said a full-time TUJ student who reported a sexual assault in May. “I walk around the corner and the amount of times I have literally almost bumped into my rapist. … I don’t think they realize how often I see him.”
The Temple News is withholding the student’s name because her investigation is ongoing.
In the face of reporting and coping with sexual assault, TUJ students shouldn’t have to deal with the added inconvenience of communicating with administrators on Main Campus, who are nearly 7,000 miles away. These concerns are only a fraction of the challenges caused by TUJ’s lack of sexual assault resources.
There is no on-campus health center at TUJ, so students must independently seek medical assistance and help from police after being sexually assaulted.
For TUJ to have no system built to support survivors of sexual assault immediately after such a traumatic event is downright insulting and shows a lack of consideration for students’ wellbeing on Temple’s part. This is an especially concerning reality since students are able to enroll at TUJ for all four years of their undergraduate studies, unlike Temple University Rome, the university’s other international campus. Nearly 1,400 fulltime students are currently enrolled at TUJ.
In response to a request for comment about the issue of sexual assault at TUJ, The Temple News received a joint statement from TUJ and Main Campus representatives that said the area surrounding the international campus is “substantially safer” than Main Campus. TUJ representatives also encouraged students to access TUJ’s Counseling Office, which mainly advertises services specific to an international campus, like counseling for culture shock.
Seiss did not respond to individual requests for comment.
This response shows a lack of awareness about the issue of sexual assault at TUJ.
Although Temple’s most recent Annual Security and Fire Safety Report lists zero cases of sexual misconduct or relationship violence at TUJ, it is not necessarily indicative of what students experience.
Only 13.3 percent of sexual assault survivors report crimes to police, according to a 2014 report by Japan’s Ministry of Justice. And with no established way for students to confidentially report sexual assault and access continued support in a country where such incidents are already severely underreported, it is not surprising TUJ has recorded zero incidents of sexual misconduct.
There are no plans to begin offering such resources at TUJ anytime soon, besides adding a section on the counseling office’s website about what steps to take after being sexually assaulted.
The Temple News is concerned this insufficient effort will reflect the university’s future inaction regarding sexual assault at TUJ.
To make TUJ a more supportive environment for survivors of sexual assault, the first step is to admit that it is happening, and the time to address this issue is overdue.