Revisions would also make it easier for victims of sexual assault to file charges.

On Monday, Japan’s Ministry of Justice publicly presented a draft to amend the country’s penal code and raise the age of consent. Currently, the age of consent in Japan is 13, but the proposed revision would raise it by three years, to 16.

As the primary purpose of the amendment is to strengthen protections for children against being sexually exploited by adults, as opposed to designating mutually willing teenagers having sex with each other as outlaws, the draft includes a provision that that sexual activity with a person older than 13 but younger than 16 is punishable only if the older party is over five years older, such as, for instance, a 20-year-old being sexually involved with a 15-year-old.

While Japan’s age of consent being 13 is a fact that gets bandied about with somewhat concerning frequency in online discussions about the country, in practice a number of local laws already criminalize adults entering into sexual relations with such young minors. Making such conduct against national law gives prosecutors one more charge to levy at violators, though, and the draft’s proposed revisions would also introduce a number of other changes meant to provide better protection against sexual assault, as well as support for victims. In light of how feelings of shame and embarrassment can make it difficult for victims to quickly come forward, the draft would extend the statute of limitations in which to file charges by an additional five years. In the case of victims for whom the crime happened while they were still a minor, the number of years between when the incident took place and the victim turned 18 (the age of legal adulthood in Japan) would be added to the statute of limitations as well.

The draft would also broaden the definition of what constitutes a sex crime. Currently, the law requires violence or intimidation on the part of the offender, as well as for the situation being physically and/or psychologically difficult for the victim to resist, but the proposed revisions would add other conditions such as forced alcoholic intoxication as sufficient for the perpetrator’s actions to be considered sexual assault.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Livedoor News
Top image: Pakutaso
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