Japan National Diet votes to raise age of consent News
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Japan National Diet votes to raise age of consent

Japan’s national legislature passed groundbreaking revisions to its sex crimes laws Friday. The House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan’s National Diet, voted in favor of changes to Chapter 22 of Japan’s Penal Code. Chapter 22 concerns crimes of obscenity, forcible sexual intercourse, and bigamy. The changes include increasing the age of consent from thirteen to sixteen and updating the definition of rape from “forcible sexual intercourse” to “non-consensual sexual intercourse.” Japan’s definition of rape was previously narrowly limited to coercion through “assault or intimidation.” With the changes, the definition will now be expanded to coercion through “use of economic or social status” as well.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) say that these changes will help to protect the rights of children and make Japan’s sex crimes law more survivor-oriented overall. According to HRW, the changes are a small start toward improving the sex industry in Japan.

Although prostitution is illegal in the country under the 1956 Prostitution Prevention Law, sex and sexualization of young women has maintained its presence in some areas of Japanese culture. There is a wide array of services available, like massage parlors or escort clubs—often broadly and euphemistically referred to as the “entertainment” industry. Advocates have also criticized the way that Japanese law enforcement has allowed a wide array of “entertainment” services to slip through loopholes in legislation, allowing violence against women and human trafficking to perpetuate.