Japan weighs lifting age of consent from 13 (to 16)

A Japanese justice ministry panel on Friday proposed raising the country’s age of consent, currently among the world’s lowest at just 13, as part of a major overhaul of sex crime legislation.

The move to raise the age of consent to 16 is part of a package of reforms that would also clarify rape prosecution requirements and criminalize voyeurism.

The recommendations presented to the justice minister come after a series of rape acquittals that sparked outcry, and will form the basis for draft amendments that could be enacted by parliament later this year.

Japan’s age of consent, the lowest among the G7 industrialized nations, has stayed unchanged since its enactment in 1907.

The age of consent is 16 in Britain and South Korea, 15 in France, and 14 in Germany and China.

Under current Japanese law, children at least 13 years old are considered capable of consent, meaning sexual activity with them is not considered statutory rape.

This has meant even teen rape survivors face the same high bars to prosecuting perpetrators that adults do.

In practice, regional ordinances banning “lewd” acts with minors are sometimes seen as effectively raising the age of consent to 18 in many parts of Japan.

But they come with significantly lighter penalties than rape charges and deem sex with children merely “unethical” conduct, “completely discounting its forced nature”, Kazuna Kanajiri, an activist fighting pornography and sexual exploitation, told AFP.

This leaves room for perpetrators to “shift blame to the victims, and argue that sex was initiated or enjoyed by the children”, said Kanajiri, who heads Tokyo-based group PAPS and welcomes plans to raise the age of consent to 16.

Teen couples who are no more than five years apart in age would be exempt from prosecution if both partners are over 13.

Japan last revised its criminal code on sexual offenses in 2017, for the first time in more than a century, but campaigners said the reforms were insufficient.

And in 2019, a string of acquittals in rape cases triggered nationwide rallies.

Among the most controversial provisions in the existing law is a requirement that prosecutors prove rape perpetrators used “violence and intimidation” to incapacitate victims.

Critics have argued that the requirement effectively blames victims for not resisting enough, and say survivors can freeze during assaults or submit to avoid further injury.

The justice ministry panel did not scrap the wording but clarified it covers drugging, catching victims off-guard and psychologically controlling them.

The clarification “isn’t meant to make it easier or harder” to secure rape convictions, but “will hopefully make court verdicts more consistent”, justice ministry official Yusuke Asanuma said.

Campaigners have welcomed the move as a step forward though it “still fails to meet international rape legislation standards”, advocacy group Human Rights Now said in a statement.

Japan, it added, should redefine “the crime of rape as all non-consensual sexual intercourse”.

The panel also proposed a new offense covering the act of secretly filming someone for sexual purposes, and lengthening the statute of limitations for sexual violence against minors, to allow them more time to come forward.

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This is a step in the right direction, even if such things are handled at the prefecture level, which already clarify the age of consent as roughly 16-18.

I also hope they consider banning or more tightly regulating the “junior idol” industry. A lot of it has already been wiped out, but still some operations that exist outside of Japan still seem to operate, and I’d feel much better if these operations were shut down, or at the very least, regulated to where gravure imagery depicting REAL children were illegal.


Just a reminder about Prostasia’s stance on laws about child sexual abuse:

This forum is not the right place for opinions about what the age of consent should be.


Probably for the best. I’m sure Japan’s sick of foreigners claiming “OMG, Japan’s AOC is 13! It’s a pedo country! I told ya lolis encouraged the real deal!”

Now, if only they’d do something about that damn pixel censorship! Off topic non sequitur, but I learned something recently that proves that censorship can do more harm than good:

“In Japan, animal pornography is used to bypass censorship laws, often featuring models performing fellatio on animals, because oral penetration of a non-human penis is not in the scope of Japanese pixelization censorship. While primarily underground, there are a number of animal pornography actresses who specialize in bestiality movies.”

In the process of learning this, I also learned of this actress:

Who’s been in many such bestiality films and has gone on to appear in mainstream theatrical movies. So much for “underground”…

So lemme get this straight Japan: a woman sucking a human penis needs to be blurred, but a woman sucking an animal penis is a-ok? See, this is why censorship makes no sense!!! The censorship of consensual human sex encourages bestiality because it doesn’t need to be censored!!! Do Japanese lawmakers not see the irony???

Now I wonder what other countries have dumb laws that result in loopholes that cause even bigger problems than if the dumb laws didn’t exist in the first place…


This was also reported in german mainstream news where they also highlighted it being 14 in Germany. Going by the largest online news outlet I can say that a lot of comments were very critical since this new law would criminalize specific age gaps that a lot do not deem as problematic for example: 13 and 12, but 13 and 18 is fine etc, or that 13 and 18 becomes illegal if the birth dates do not align making the relationship illegal for a few months every now and then. Some described this law more prude than effective and others questioned their own countries AoC saying that they now own the gold medal of the G7 countries lmao.

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