Japan passes landmark sex crimes bill, also raises age of consent from 13 to 16 | World News - Hindustan Times
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Japan passes landmark sex crimes bill, also raises age of consent from 13 to 16

Bloomberg | | Posted by Nisha Anand
Jun 16, 2023 06:37 PM IST

The age of consent in Japan had been unchanged since 1907.

Japan passed a landmark sex-crime bill on Friday, in a long fought-for bid to make a range of sexual offenses, including rape, photo voyeurism and online child-grooming, more easily punishable.

Japan's earlier age of consent - 13 years - was the lowest among Group of Seven countries.(Shutterstock)
Japan's earlier age of consent - 13 years - was the lowest among Group of Seven countries.(Shutterstock)

The amendments to the Penal Code change the term for the crime of “forced sexual intercourse” to “non-consensual sexual intercourse,” widening the scope of cases that can be treated as an offense.

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It specifies eight scenarios in which intercourse can be deemed non-consensual, including evidence of force or intimidation, the use of alcohol or drugs, and taking advantage of economic or social status.

Also Read: No plan to reduce age of consent to 16: Indian govt

Problems of consent had previously been little explored by the authorities in Japan. A court in 2019 sparked outrage by acquitting a man for repeatedly raping his teenage daughter, on the grounds she could have resisted him. The verdict was overturned by a higher court and he was sentenced to a decade in prison for the offense.

In addition, Japan’s age of sexual consent was lifted from 13 — the lowest among Group of Seven countries — to 16, following a decades-long battle by activists. The age of consent had been unchanged since 1907.

Also Read: How to teach kids about body safety and consent: Therapist shares tips

The law revision also criminalizes “photo voyeurism” — secretly taking sexual pictures of people — and the online grooming of children. In 2022, more than 150 children were the victims of serious crimes, including rape, initiated through social media, according to the National Police Agency.

About 7% of women and 1% of men said they had experienced forced sexual intercourse, according to a 2021 government survey of 5,000 people. Just 5.6% of victims took their cases to the police, the survey showed. In the same year, 1,330 individuals were charged with rape, resulting in only 455 convictions, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

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