Japan is considering increasing the age of consent from 13 to 16 as part of a broader overhaul of its sex crime laws.
The Japanese Justice Ministry has proposed increasing the age of consent from 13 to 16 in an overhaul of its sex crime legislation after several rape acquittals in 2019 caused a scandal.
Japan has the lowest age of consent among the Group of Seven (G7) nations, which includes the European Union as a non-enumerated member.
Notably, however, many prefectures also have local corruption of minors or obscenity statutes in place, which can raise the de-facto age of consent to 16-18 unless they are in a sincere, romantic relationship which can be determined by parental consent.
The suggested changes will deem sexual intercourse with any person under 16 statutory rape, regardless of consent.
Additionally, the definition of rape will include drugging, intoxication, and grooming of minors and will criminalize secretly photographing and filming someone’s genitals or underwear and sharing the images.
The objectification of women is perhaps more evident in Japan than elsewhere because Japanese pop culture is fascinated with underage girls and the sexualization of women – its manga and anime art styles are renowned for their often controversial depiction of child-like, scantily clad, and excessively voluptuous girls.
The proposal is expected to be enacted during Japan’s ongoing session of parliament, which ends in June.