Domestic violence law bolstered; dates exempt

Couples living together now covered but critics say it's still not enough

Kyodo

A revision to the domestic violence law took effect Friday, providing a little more protection by including victims of violence involving couples who live together.

The revision was passed following multiple cases in which people fleeing abusive relationships or their relatives were murdered by the abuser.

Critics say the new change isn’t enough. The law’s previous version covered violence between spouses as well as between ex-spouses, including common-law marriage partners. This version adds violence between partners who are or were living together.

Couples who are not sharing a residence are excluded because lawmakers thought dating is a vague concept to define, while “living together” is a criteria easy to judge objectively.

Victims are eligible to receive protection and counseling at shelters after consulting with support centers for spousal violence victims. They can also go to court to seek a restraining order or an order to have the partner vacate their shared abode.

A 201 Cabinet Office survey covering people aged 20 or older who had a partner found that 13.7 percent of women and 5.8 percent of men said they were victims of violence. Of them, 20.8 percent said they felt their lives were in danger.

The revised domestic violence law was passed last June along with revisions to the stalker law, which took effect in October.

The revisions were preceded by a number of murders perpetrated by stalkers, including the slaying of the mother and grandmother of a woman pursued by a man in Saikai, Nagasaki Prefecture, in December 2011.