Japan plans to raise the age of consent from 13 years old in an overhaul of sex crime legislation

Japan plans to raise the age of consent from 13 years old in an overhaul of sex crime legislation
Protesters gather at the rally called 'Flower Demo' to criticize recent acquittals in court cases of alleged rape in Japan and call for revision of the anti-sex crime law in Tokyo, Japan in 2019Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • The Japanese government has proposed changing its consent age from 13 to 16 years old.
  • If passed, the country will no longer have the lowest age of consent of all G7 nations.

The Japanese government is looking to change its age of consent from 13 to 16 years old, a move that would mean it would no longer have the lowest age of consent of all G7 countries.

The overhaul of the country's sex crime legislation proposed last week comes after multiple acquittals in sexual abuse cases and high-profile allegations that led to protests and public outrage in 2019.

The current legal code has been criticized for failing to protect children and teenagers in the country.

The age of consent is 16 years old in the UK and most states in the US. It is 14 in Germany and 15 in France.

The series of law reforms will also criminalize voyeurism and also expand the country's legal definition of rape.


Under the current 1907 law, survivors who have been raped need to prove aggressors used "violence and intimidation" and that it was "impossible to resist" the assault to get a conviction, according to the BBC.

The century-old law puts an undue burden on victims, a significant disincentive for people to come forward, a Japanese psychiatrist who treats sexual abuse victims told Reuters.

The country's ministry of justice did not remove this wording, The Guardian reported but said that other factors like intoxication, drugging, and psychological control should be added to the legal code.

"I was 15 when a classmate of mine sexually assaulted me at a party. When I told my best friend about it immediately afterward, she told me it wasn't a big deal because I was drinking," Hana, a 20-year-old college student, told Hanako Montgomery for Vice World News.

"In that moment, I was so scared of what he could do, so I just waited for it to end. So I'm glad Japan's considering changing these laws because there will be fewer people like me, who are confused about what happened to them," Hana told Vice.


Human Rights Now, a Japanese human rights organization, said in a statement that the proposed changes marked some progress but that the country "still fails to meet international rape legislation standards."

Protests in 2019 of Japan's fledgling #MeToo movement coincided with a court acquitting a father accused of raping his 19-year-old daughter because the prosecution would not prove "intimidation." The decision was later overruled.

The government said the law would likely pass later this summer.