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.

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