Japan raises age of consent from 13 to 16 years old



Japan’s age of consent has been raised from 13, among the world’s lowest, to 16 years old as lawmakers passed key reforms to sex crime legislation on Friday, June 16.


The reforms, which also clarify rape prosecution requirements and criminalise voyeurism, cleared parliament’s upper house in a unanimous vote.


Campaigners welcomed the reforms, with the Tokyo-based group Human Rights Now calling them “a big step forward”.


The lifting of the age of consent in particular will “send a message to society that sexual violence by adults against children is unacceptable”, the group said in a statement.


The age of consent below which sexual activity is considered statutory rape is 16 in Britain, 15 in France, and 14 in Germany and China.


Japan’s had been unchanged since 1907, with children aged 13 and above deemed capable of consent.


In practice, however, across many parts of the country regional ordinances banning “lewd” acts with minors were sometimes seen as effectively raising the age of consent to 18.


Under the new law, teen couples no more than five years apart in age will be exempt from prosecution if both partners are over 13.


Japan last revised its criminal code on sexual offences in 2017, for the first time in more than a century, but campaigners said the reforms were insufficient.

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