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Japan is set to finally raise the age of consent from 13

Callum Jones

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| Last updated 

Japan is set to finally raise the age of consent from 13

Featured Image Credit: K-PHOTOS/ Paul Brown / Alamy Stock Photo

Japan is finally set to raise the age of consent from 13 after years of protests against the law in the country.

Currently, Japan's age of consent is the lowest among the G7 industrialized nations, below the likes of 16 in the UK and South Korea, 15 in France, and 14 in China and Germany.

Under the current law that has been in place since 1907, children at the age of 13 are deemed capable of consent, meaning sexual activity with them is not considered statutory rape.

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Typically, this has meant in Japan that teenage rape survivors face the same high bars to prosecuting alleged rapists as adults do.

The new law that has been proposed by a Japanese justice ministry panel on Friday (17 February) is part of a major overhaul in sex crime legislation in Japan.

The age of consent has been a hot talking point in Japan for years. Credit: auritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
The age of consent has been a hot talking point in Japan for years. Credit: auritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

If approved, it would see the age of consent in the country raised from 13 to 16 in the country, which would be great news for many that have campaigned for change.

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The full package of reforms would also clarify rape prosecution requirements and criminalize voyeurism.

Before this, regional ordinances banning 'lewd' acts with minors were seen as essentially raising the age of consent to 18 in many parts of Japan.

But Kazuna Kanajiri, an activist fighting pornography and sexual exploitation, told AFP that they typically come with lighter penalties than rape charges.

Kanajiri adds that this leaves room for perpetrators to "shift blame to the victims, and argue that sex was initiated or enjoyed by the children."

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However, teen couples who are no more than five years apart in age would be exempt from a criminal record if they are both over the age of 13.

As part of the reform, the age of consent will be upped to 16. Credit: Agencja Fotograficzna Caro / Alamy Stock Photo
As part of the reform, the age of consent will be upped to 16. Credit: Agencja Fotograficzna Caro / Alamy Stock Photo

The new reformed system couldn't come soon enough for a lot of people in Japan, with protests in the country showing the real unrest there.

It all started in 2019 when a string of acquittals in rape cases triggered the mass protests, despite a reform only two years previously.

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Yes, Japan revised its criminal code on sexual offences back in 2017, which was the first time in more than a century.

However, many campaigners said that the reforms were insufficient, and wouldn't make much difference to the underlying problems.

While the new reform is not 'meant to make it easier or harder' to prosecute rapists, justice ministry official Yusuke Asanuma said it 'will hopefully make court verdicts more consistent'.

Topics: News, World News

Callum Jones
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