Foreign student’s account of treatment in rape case points to gaps in Japan’s safety myth

by Rachel Halle

I have just finished my exchange year at one of Japan’s national universities. It has been a wonderful year filled with a wealth of new experiences, amazing encounters with Japanese people, a lot of studying hard for kanji tests and eating plenty of delicious food. It is with sadness that I leave soon for my home country to finish my studies.

However, something I was certainly not planning for did happen during my exchange. This is something that the international coordinator at my home university did not prepare me for when she was handing out brochures about Japan. Nor was it something my exchange university advised me about when they had their orientation week about life in Japan. That was all about earthquake safety drills, scholarship arrangements and health insurance. Table manners, course descriptions and student discounts.

Never did I expect that I would get raped in Japan. The story I am about to tell unfortunately belies the image of the “world’s safest country” that often gets trotted out when people enthuse about Japan.

In brief, here’s what happened: In a situation where I had several times told a new acquaintance that I did not want to have sex, my rapist — another non-Japanese resident — took advantage of the fact I was wearing a skirt and — with both of us still fully dressed — penetrated me so quickly and unexpectedly that I did not have time to react or fight back. Neither did he need to resort to violence. As soon as I realized what was happening, I pushed him away and ran out of his apartment as fast as I could, screaming. He did not follow.

I felt disgusted and dirty. I told my roommate and she promised to accompany me to the police station, but I was certain that my story would not be believed or taken seriously, and so I decided not to go. I had heard stories about the lack of legal support for sexual assault victims in Japan, and that many women chose to suffer in silence.

However, the feeling of disgust combined with intense lower stomach pains still haunted me several days later, so I decided to go to see a gynecologist. The nurse at reception asked me why I was seeking help and I told her the whole story. I was met with sympathy and was offered advice about the police system. She even printed out a map to the nearest police station. I felt a glimmer of hope: Maybe my story would be taken seriously after all?

From the clinic, I walked straight to the police station. I was afraid I would change my mind if I didn’t do it right away.

At the reception there were two police officers. I told them in correct Japanese that I had been raped, and asked whether there was someone who spoke English around, so that I could explain what happened without the need to worry that something would get lost in translation.

They looked perplexed. “Raped?”

“Yes, raped,” I answered.

Nobody was available, but one of the officers called somebody who could speak English. I picked up the phone the officer gave me.

“So you wanted to report some stolen luggage?” the person at the other end of the phone asked.

When I told them my reason for coming to the police station, the other end of the line went quiet. This was not what they had been expecting on a regular Wednesday evening.

“Could you wait a little bit?” he asked.

Suddenly I was surrounded by a group of police officers. Someone handed me a map and asked me to point out the crime scene.

I was taken to a room separated from the main office and interrogated for an hour or two. The police officer seemed understanding and compassionate, but the questions he posed gave a different impression. Among other things, he asked me what I was wearing (a skirt, a blouse and a cardigan); how much I had drunk that night (a beer and two cocktails); whether I, in fact, had wanted to have sex with him (no); whether I had told him no in the first place (I had told him, repeatedly), and whether he thought that my no, uttered several times, actually meant yes.

It was made clear that my case did not match the image that the officers had of rape in general.

“If only he was a stranger who attacked you on the street . . . it would be a lot easier to investigate,” the officer sighed. It felt as if the slightest deviation from what was acknowledged as “real rape” would be used against me to determine that my case was less serious and therefore less worthy of further action.

The common narrative and perception of rape is that it is a crime perpetrated by a violent stranger, but that it is not how a considerable number of rapes happen. Many victims are raped by somebody they know. My perpetrator was not a complete stranger, and the fact that he did not fit the stereotypical image of a rapist seemed to matter more than what had actually happened.

Later I got to know that in Japanese, there are words for these different kinds of rapes. The common narrative is called tsūjō (common/usual) rape, a violent rape perpetrated by somebody who was not known to the victim. My rape account was closer to something called a fushizen (unnatural/unusual) rape. In a fushizen rape the offender is already known to the victim in some way, and overt physical violence is often lacking.

In fact, when the Tokyo Rape Crisis Center compared the information on these two types of rape narratives with official statistics, it was found that tsūjō rapes were reported and prosecuted way more often than fushizen rapes. In other words, it seems I was not alone in being concerned about not being taken seriously. However, the investigation seemed still to be proceeding.

After the interrogation, already late in the evening, the police made me show them the area where I had been assaulted. I had to pose for pictures (with and without a face mask, for some reason) at the police station, in front of the police car before leaving, and close to the place I was assaulted. Even though I was treated compassionately, it felt more like I was the one being accused of something.

After I had pointed out where the assault took place, I was told that the location was outside the jurisdiction of the police station I had initially gone to. Phone calls were made and I was told to go to another station the following day for another interrogation. It was close to midnight and I just wanted to go home.

The next day, I obediently went to the second police station. I was met with similar questions and asked to tell the whole story again.

After retelling all the details about my attire and conduct, the officer asked me: “Do you really want him to be convicted? Do you really want him to serve a long sentence for what he has done?” It was clear she did not think the possible punishment fitted the crime.

Had I had the energy to speak up at that point, my answer would have been: “No, I would prefer it if he had not done it in the first place, and that my ‘no’ had been respected. I had rather wanted someone to recognize that I had been wronged. For me it is not about revenge, it is about justice. I wonder whether there is any other crime for which you ask the victim whether they think the punishment is justified.”

Instead of telling her all that, I said I needed time to think.

There was a reason why the police officer asked me whether I wanted my attacker to be convicted: In Japan, the prosecutor does not start investigating a rape case until the victim decides to press charges (Article 180 of the Penal Code).

In some other countries, including the U.K. and Sweden, rape falls under public prosecution. This means that the prosecutor proceeds with the criminal investigation whether or not the victim gives their consent. For me personally, it would have been a relief if someone else had made the decision for me. Instead, I was given a week to think about whether I wanted to press charges.

Before that, however, I did get a brief introduction to the Japanese legislation dealing with rape, courtesy of the officer. What I found was that my rape would most likely not be considered as such under Japanese law. In fact, not respecting my ‘no’ was not regarded as sufficient grounds to warrant punishment.

The definition of rape according to Japanese law (Article 177 of the Penal Code) is as follows: “A person who, using violence or threats, has sexual intercourse with a female person over the age of 13 shall be guilty of rape and shall be punished with imprisonment of at least three years. The same shall apply to a person who has sexual intercourse with a female person under the age of 13.”

In my case there had been no direct violence or threats, but neither was there consent, a definition upon which rape legislation is often built. In Japan, not wanting to have sex with somebody seems not to be enough. The use of threats or violence also needs to be present.

The problem with this approach is that the evidence of violence can easily become overemphasized, as it is something that is considered to be easier to measure objectively. Furthermore, with legislation hanging on the presence of violence, physical resistance might also be considered the only way for a victim to legitimately resist. My case did not seem to fit the description.

Also, I came to know that penetrating someone without a condom without permission, or knowingly transmitting an STD, is not punishable by any law in Japan. This means that you can, for instance, freely and intentionally transmit HIV to a partner, something that is a crime in many EU nations and U.S. states, for example.

This, combined with my knowledge of the lack of sexual education and steadily rising rates of STDs and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in Japan, made me feel very uncomfortable. Not only did it seem that my rape was not considered a “real rape,” but my perpetrator could have infected me with something there was no legal nor medical remedy for.

It was made clear from the outset of my dealings with the police that any evidence would be hard to get hold of, and that my account did not match the scenario that would easily lead to a conviction; however, the police officer did not tell me outright that they would not investigate my case.

I wanted to press charges. I wanted to get justice. I wanted to challenge the paragraph in the Penal Code that did not, by any means, correspond with reality or offer enough protection for many victims of rape. But this turned out to be much more complicated than the simple question the police officer posed made it sound: “Do you really want to get him convicted?”

The week I was given passed. I was anxious and having second thoughts. My friends warned me not to ruin the last months of my exchange over “something like this.”

I know they had my best interests at heart. This was not a decision I wanted to make. But when it was time to go to the police station again, I went with high hopes, having already decided that I wanted to continue pursuing the case.

This time, for the first time, a translator was provided so that I would not have to worry about not understanding the legal terms. However, it was very clear from the start that the purpose of the meeting was not to hear my decision; it was to persuade me not to press charges.

A bunch of reasons were brought up: Investigating my case would be too difficult, too time-consuming, too traumatic for me. The police officer was afraid I could not handle the questions posed by the defense lawyers and judge.

“It is best for you to just try to forget about it,” she said.

I felt angry and frustrated. I did not feel that I wanted to entrust them with something as painful as my ordeal if they did not believe that the case was worth pursuing. Reluctantly, I decided not to press charges and left the police station crying.

The police officer walking with me to the elevator seemed uncomfortable. “Please, don’t hate Japan for this,” she said. But the reality of not being protected in “the safest country in the world” made me feel sick.

The question haunted me: What might have happened if the police had been willing to take further action? What I found out was that, in Japan, prosecutors have the right to drop a case when the prosecution is considered “unnecessary” based on the “offender’s character, age and circumstances, the seriousness and circumstances of the crime itself, and the situation subsequent to the crime” (Article 248, Code of Criminal Procedure). In 2005, 6.8 percent of the rape prosecutions, according to the Ministry of Justice, were abandoned due to this clause, which certainly leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Furthermore, prosecutors are under pressure to drop cases that would most likely end in the accused not being convicted, as it would bring disgrace to the prosecutor and potentially hinder their future career. Taking into consideration the circumstances of my rape and the current state of Japanese legislation, it seems unlikely that a prosecutor would have wanted to take the risk. Looking at the statistics, many of the rape cases are dropped even before the prosecution stage. In 2005, only 65.8 percent of the rapes reported were prosecuted, according to Justice Ministry figures.

Japan being constantly ranked among the safest countries in the world will not help my recovery. Instead, it will continue to feed the myth that sexual assault is not a problem here. But data suggesting a phenomenon is happening at a lower frequency than somewhere else does not mean that it is not happening at all.

Actually, there seems to be a major issue with hidden statistics. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2012 only 1,240 rapes were recorded by police in Japan (1.0 per 100,000 people). This is only slightly more than the number of recorded rapes in the whole of Finland (1,009 cases, or 18.7 per 100,000 people), even though the country has a population 20 times smaller than Japan’s.

However, I have a hard time imagining that the real number of rapes could differ this much between the two countries. In support of this, I found that I was part of the 3.7 percent of female victims in Japan who decide to report their rape to police (according to a 2011 Cabinet Office survey). Almost 70 percent told no one about their ordeal. And even for those who do report, their cases are unlikely to lead to a conviction, as the general rate for arrests of reported crimes in Japan is around 30 percent.

I am aware that rape is a crime that is hard to prove and get justice for. I am not blaming the police for not being able to find proof if there is little evidence in the first place. But that does not mean there should not be proper legislation and support in place to aid victims.

Thousands of rape cases in Japan go unreported every year. What’s more, there is often nowhere to turn for support when the laws as they are written do not offer sufficient protection. The social support for victims is sparse, especially in languages other than Japanese. For instance, I did not get any kind of contact information for any sexual assault victim support network from my gynecologist, nor from the police. This left me in a very vulnerable position: I felt like I was being assaulted again by the rigid legal system, with no help available from outside of it either. Also, being an exchange student, this was not the first thing I wanted to ask my university adviser to help me with.

How my case was treated left me filled with anxiety, and with lingering questions: Was I really raped? Maybe I should have done something differently — dressed differently, talked differently? Am I to blame for what happened?

Victims are afraid to talk because of this stigma, and I am no exception. I wish I could feel at ease writing this using my real name and picture, as many victims of other types of crimes do routinely. However, this is not yet something I feel comfortable doing.

The notion that crimes like this will continue to affect the lives of not only me but thousands of women and men makes me feel terribly helpless. Better protection and legal support has to be made available to the victims. I hope that explaining what a victim of a sexual assault in Japan still has to go through will help raise awareness and eventually change the outdated beliefs and ideas that do not correspond with reality.

Rachel Halle is a pseudonym. Foreign Agenda offers a forum for opinion. Comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Dipak Bose

    non-Japanese… who? Iranian, Pakistani or African? These people are very aggressive towards the female students in universities. Iranian or Pakistanies even drag female students by holding their hands if a female student does not want to talk to them.
    A female student should never go to the room of another male students, must not drink with them, take any lift in their car, as in these cases a Judge will reject the case. Only about 4 percent of the reported rape cases can have any prosecution in Britain as in most cases police will refuse the send the case to the judge saying that there is no chance of any successful prosecution.

  • Ron NJ

    Japan is indeed a quite safe country – if you are a straight male. If not, then the “safety Japan” myth quickly falls apart, especially if you happen to be an Asian female. Between incredible levels of under-/non-reporting by authorities, police being uninterested in investigating cases of sexual assault, victim blaming, and the social stigma of being raped, it really cannot be said that Japan is a safe country for women. Sure, you’re less likely to be the subject of a violent mugging at knife point like you may be in London, but you’re many orders of magnitude more likely to be molested or otherwise sexually assaulted.

    • Chou Masamori

      I don’t get why being in Japan make guys horny. Sounds idiot.

    • Gordon Graham

      “you’re many orders of magnitude more likely to be molested or otherwise sexually assaulted”…and you base this assumption on what exactly, your hatred of the Japanese in general or just a hunch?

      • blondein_tokyo

        Heh. From personal experience? This is true.

        I’ve traveled extensively, and the only other country where I have been groped is … India.

        I can’t count how many times I have been groped in Japan.

        Gordon, you can’t just brush off reports of sexual harassment in Japan as people being racist. I’m not racist. I love Japan. I criticize it precisely BECAUSE I love it. I want it to change and get better.

      • Gordon Graham

        There are women I know who say the same thing about Canada. There’s a man on here on this thread who was raped as a child there, apparently catholic priests and kid’s hockey coaches are living in a pedophile wonderland over there. What of the Muslim community in the UK? What I’ve heard from a Muslim woman who was raped by a family member is that women in their community almost never report sexual assault. So, despite your ugly experiences which I’m saddened to hear of, I’ll reserve my incredulity concerning “many orders of magnitude”.

      • blondein_tokyo

        And you know what? I believe those women. I have no trouble saying that no country is safe for women. Each country presents its own unique circumstances, so I don’t even think it can really be compared accurately.

        I’m not the prior poster and do not agree with “many orders of magnitude”. But I will say that it is not a rosy picture here, and the system needs to be fixed.

      • R.R.

        but what you’re implying is that Japan poses a huge risk on the level of that in India for females as the only other country you have been groped is in India which is decidedly notorious for their sex crimes, in short, you’re indirectly saying that Japan is as unsafe for women as in India

        That couldn’t be further away from the truth.

        All countries have their fair share of sex crimes but when you start using hyperbole and inflate that “danger” a country poses, it starts to distort the facts.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I said that India is the only other country I have been groped in. This only means, “India is the only other country I have been groped in”. I didn’t even begin to intimate that Japan is anywhere near as dangerous as India.

        However, attitudes towards women in Japan ARE less enlightened than other countries of similar economic power and social structure, like the UK, US, or Canada. That includes the attitudes of the overall public and the police towards rape victims, as well as the inadequacy of the system for dealing with sex crimes.

        Japan is way ahead of India. But it is way behind the US, UK, or Canada.

      • R.R.

        Implication goes a long way.

        by drawing a comparison between 2 countries of very different safety reputation and right after, associating them both on a crime you said you’ve only experienced in those 2 countries, you are attempting to imply that they are both actually on the same level of safety, if not, why bother comparing them to begin with?

        Why not simply say “I have been groped in Japan” by adding India into the picture serves absolutely no merit to what your message is about.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Because I want stress that Japan is the only industrialized country that I have been groped in, and that is significant. It matters, because where there is more sexism, there is less respect for females and particularly, female sexual autonomy. This is NOT to say all sexist countries are equally sexist; it is to say there’s a continuum, and Japan is below other industrialized nations on that scale.

        Dude, a cabinet minister just said, out loud, to the press, with no hesitation or fear of censure, that women are just baby makers. If a prominent cabinet member of the US government had said that, he’d be out on his ear in DAYS. In Japan? He gets re-elected.
        And I hate to have to point this out, but as a man you are not in the best position to judge how sexist a country is, or how dangerous it is to women. Listen to women. We know better than you do on this issue.

      • R.R.

        Stressing that Japan is the only industrialized country you have been groped in still does not necessitate bringing out India, you have just said it without bringing out India.

        I am not really talking about sexism in Japan, I know they have issues with gender equality but that not the topic here.

        I am merely saying that you have implied, consciously or subconsciously that japan is as dangerous as India for women because you are very well traveled and in all the countries you have traveled to, those are the only 2 you have had the unfortunate experience of being groped

        and that implication is an exaggeration of the danger for women travelers

      • blondein_tokyo

        I have clarified twice what I meant, yet you still insist on putting you own personal spin on it- is this Fox News or something? Dude, *you don’t get to dictate to me what I “really” meant.*

        You moved from “this discussion might be productive” to “I am just an obtuse a-hole who just wants to butt heads” in the space of three comments.

        Yeah…um, NO. Buh bye now.

      • KenjiAd

        … it is to say there’s a continuum, and Japan is below other industrialized nations on that scale.

        First of all, I’m a Japanese male, but I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in America, so my opinion tends to be “Americanized” so to speak. Anyway, I personally agree with you that Japan, as a whole (not any particular individuals), is more “sexist” than America.

        With that clearly stated, there is one more thing I would like to add to this fascinating debate, though.

        I think there is an inherent danger in characterizing another culture by using a label like racist or sexist or backward, etc. By using one of these labels, of course you (generic “you”, not you, blondein_tokyo) are expressing your opinion which has been strongly influenced by your own culture or a set of beliefs. While people tend to think that their own core values should be universal, that’s not always the case.

        In the US, you see a lot of news coverage of women in Saudi Arabia, almost all of which depict them as unhappy people oppressed by the males. While there must be a lot of truth in these coverage, I always felt something uneasy about these news. I often felt that there is a sense of self-congratulation in these coverage – “Look, how good we are compared to them!”

        Finally, I again stress that I do agree with you, blondein_tokyo. The only thing I’m not so sure is that Japanese women are so miserable as you seem to imply. But again, I’m a Japanese make, so I understand that anything I say on this issue will be viewed with a certain skepticism. And they may be right… I dunno. :-)

      • blondein_tokyo

        Kenji, that was a really well thought out, interesting, and insightful comment. Thank you! I try to be diplomatic in my language, but often fail. You hit just the right note. :)

        To answer your question, rest assured that I don’t think that Japanese women are miserable. To the contrary, it is all relative, as you said. However, I will say this: cultural relativism is dangerous precisely because it can make people hesitant to criticize; and there are some things in this world which are just not up for negotiation. Some things really are plain black and white.

        For example, a woman in the Middle East may accept that she is a second class citizen whose existence is dependent on the whim of a man, but that does NOT make it objectively RIGHT.

        That is why I think it is reasonable to say that generally speaking, Japan is behind the US and some other places in their treatment of sex crimes.

        “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”

        What do you think of that?

      • Gordon Graham

        For those who think the system in America treats victims of rape any better or the authorities treat victims with any less incredulity I recommend you read “Why College Rape Victims Don’t Go to Police” http://alj.am/R1Xw3r
        Which includes this quote from a NYPD officer “For every single rape I’ve had, I’ve had 20 that are total bull—-“. I’m sure it will make you rethink claims such as Japan is “way behind the US, the UK or Canada.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Japan treats victims worse, because Japan tends to be more sexist, more paternal, and more slut-shaming than the US, UK, and Europe. As the article points out, they don’t have enough infrastructure in place to help victims recover, they are behind in their investigation techniques- this includes things like re-traumatizing the victim by forcing the victim to re-create the crime; not allowing victims immediate access to a hospital for a rape kit right away; there are no special prosecutors for sex crimes, and the investigators also tend to be MEN. This is in contrast to the US where they are always women.
        As the article noted, the punishment for rape is much less severe; and they actually have two different definitions of rape, which is shocking. Rape is rape; there shouldn’t be a distinction, much less a LEGAL one, between “kind of but not rape” and “rape-rape”.In the US, all rape is classified as rape, even though there are terms such as “statutory rape” all of them carry the same nuance.

        Also, Japan tends to be more closed-mouth about sex crimes, because it is generally taboo in Japanese society to speak about sex. The US IS still conservative, but it is much more open about that, so victim advocacy and recovery as well as flaws in the system are openly and publicly discussed *often*. This allows changes in the law that benefit victims, such as California’s new “enthusiastic consent” law. This would never fly in Japan.

        Also, in Japa, there is a statute of limitations on child molestation. In the US, there is not.

        I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

        There is an OVERALL TENDANCY for Japan to be weaker in all of these areas. To deny this is to completely deny that there are any cultural or social or political differences between different countries, which is absurd.
        To criticize these aspects of Japan is NOT racism, either, which is something often implied in your posts. I have lived here for my entire adult life, love Japan, love the people, and criticize it because I want it to get better, not because I am a racist who only sees the bad.

      • Gordon Graham

        The accusation of hating Japan was towards Ron NJ who delights in daily posting his accusatory defamation finger pointing opinions of Japan and her failings. I’ve never called you a racist, Steve Jackman on the other hand who calls the Japanese racist insular and backwards, I would deem a racist. As for America treating its victims any better I suggest you read the article I cited. It contradicts some of the claims you’re making. One, that investigators of sexual assault against women are always women, another being that Japan is behind in investigation techniques. I’m sorry, but there are many things in your assertion that are less than true.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I’m glad you are not calling me racist. Thank you for understanding that I am criticizing out of love for Japan, and a desire to make things better here both for myself and for other women.

        As for Japan being worse for victims, I stand by my prior comments. I gave you more than ten very good examples comparing the two systems, which I think is plenty to show I have a good case. Rather than refuting those points, you ask me to read an article outlining the flaws in the US system as though I was unaware of them. I wasn’t trying to claim that the US was stellar in it’s treatment of victims. I’m well aware of the flaws in the system in the US, and my main point is that rape victims get treated badly in the US, but they get treated even worse in Japan.
        The country with the best system is Sweden, and California is fast approaching their model. I hope that model is adopted worldwide, including by Japan. But in order for this to happen people have to be willing to concede that Japan has a problem in the first place, which a lot of people (not you) are denying.

    • Charles

      While I agree with most your post, I disagree with this:
      “Japan is indeed quite a safe country – if you are a straight male.”

      Speak for yourself. I am a straight white male, and I have been assaulted, and also watched another white male foreigner get assaulted in Japan. In neither case did either of us make the first physically aggressive move.

      • Gordon Graham

        I walked through Balitmore back in 1980, my first time in America, and was beaten, stabbed, robbed and left for dead. That incident colours my opinion of crime in the U.S. as I’m sure your experience informs your opinion of Japan. On the other hand, in almost 30 years I have never even gotten into so much as an argument in Japan (outside of here on the Internet, of course), and that colours my perception of Japan as being a “safe” place…and I have stumbled through Kabukicho in the wee hours of the morning more than twice. Also, don’t delude yourself into believing that crime isn’t also under-reported in America.

      • Charles

        “don’t delude yourself into thinking that crime isn’t also under-reported in America”

        I did not do that. I am sure crime is under-reported everywhere. All it takes is one victim not reporting a crime, and crime is immediately under-reported, regardless of country. It is just a matter of degree. However, I think it is especially under-reported in Japan, for the reasons that both the article writer and I have pointed out (police refusing to help, police that blame the victims, etc.).

        In Korea, another Asian country that is often touted as “safe” and “safer than America,” I was dragged into a back room, beaten by two men, threatened with objects like ash trays and a fire extinguisher, and had a man’s foot on my neck as I lay face-down on a couch, all for daring to argue with the owner’s no-foreigner policy (by the way, I graduated from Yonsei University Korean Language Institute, so language barrier was not an issue here). My tooth is still chipped to this day from that incident.

        Therefore, it appears we are at an anecdotal standoff. You had something awful happen to you in America, and during my 13 years in “safe” East Asia, I have had something awful happen to me in Korea, with a couple of less serious incidents in Japan.

        I am not trying to say that America is “safe.” I fully acknowledge that cities like Detroit, Baltimore, etc. are crime-filled hellholes. Although I have never been attacked on the street in America, I have narrowly avoided assault there several times.

        However, what bugs me is that people keep saying that Japan, Korea, etc. are “safe” and that “the only people who get trouble are the people who go looking for it.” That is a vast oversimplification, and blames the victims. I would take less issue with “Japan is COMPARATIVELY safe.”

      • Gordon Graham

        Well, you should take an interest in juxtaposition, because if you don’t you might end up saying something you don’t mean. And your “thinking” crime in Japan is “especially” under-reported doesn’t make it so, comparatively speaking. I have to wonder how many people who live in the ghettos of America would feel at ease reporting having been assaulted when they know they have to come back home to live among the people who prey upon them. Also, when police shoot unarmed black youth in America, how much better do they treat them when they report an assault? Yes, Japan is “relatively” safe, compared with America. In my experience.

      • Charles

        “And your ‘thinking’ crime in Japan is ‘especially’ under-reported doesn’t make it so”

        Okay, well, I have an opinion, you have an opinion. Both are just that–opinions. Want to provide some hard data to back up your assertion? Because otherwise, your opinion is no more correct than mine. No sob story about poor Americans huddled in the ghetto, too afraid to report violent crimes, can substitute for hard data. Got any?

        Note that I am _NOT_ asserting that America is safer than Japan, overall. That is just a straw man you have brought out, that I never asserted. Japan is probably safer overall than America. I just take issue with absolute statements that some people make (not necessarily you), that “Japan is safe” and that “the only people who find trouble in Japan are those who go looking for it.”

        Oh, and looking at violent crime statistics for massive areas such as countries/continents/hemispheres is pointless. Would you refuse to live in New Zealand because “the Southern Hemisphere has a high violent crime rate?” No, that would be absurd. Would you refuse to live in Martha’s Vineyard because “the Americas (North and South) have the world’s highest murder rate?” No, that would be absurd, too. Similarly, moving to Kabukicho because “Japan has a low violent crime rate” would be a bad idea. It is far more important to look at the crime statistics for a city, or preferably, a neighborhood.

        So when Ron NJ said “Japan is indeed a quite safe country – if you are a straight male.” I disagreed. His statement is overly general, dismissive of straight males who have been victims, not true of my situation, etc.

      • Gordon Graham

        Do I have data for unreported crime? Do you? How about we compare crime that is indisputable, like the kind that leaves a dead or battered body in it’s ugly wake then make an educated guess from there? And how about we compare say Compton LA with Kabukicho rather than Martha’s Vinyard to get a more accurate picture as to which country is safer. I’m pretty sure anyone over the age of 10 understands we’re talking about “relatively” safer here.

      • Charles

        “to get a more accurate picture as to which country is safer”

        Once again, I never, not once, in any of my posts, asserted that America was safer than Japan. That is a straw man that you are repeatedly bringing out, and it is getting very annoying. At least two or three times, I have specifically stated that I do not believe that America is safer than Japan. I never, not once, asserted that America, on the whole, is “safe.”

        What I gave was my personal experience, built up over three and a half years in Japan and 13+ years in “safe” East Asia, which is worth far more to me than some statistics I read on the Internet. Go back and read my assertions. I stand by them. My main assertion to Ron NJ was that his statement, “Japan is quite safe – if you are a straight male” is not true. I then gave my reasons.

        I am done arguing with you. No matter what I say, you try to find every way possible to pick it apart, and you continually use straw men. It is a very tiresome experience.

      • Gordon Graham

        And I stand by my belief that Japan is a safe country. Is there crime? There are 130,000,000 people crowded on an Island the size of California…of course there is! It’s remarkably safe considering. Japan’s safety is no myth

      • R.R.

        It isn’t a straw-man, you have repeatedly implied that America is safer than Japan with your own anecdotal evidence.

        “Speak for yourself. I am a straight white male, and I have been assaulted, and also watched another white male foreigner get assaulted in Japan. In neither case did either of us make the first physically aggressive move.

        I lived in America, a “dangerous” country, for 14 years. Excluding schoolyard fights which are inevitable for boys in any country, especially in elementary/middle school, I was never attacked in public, not even a single time.” – Charles

        with this, you’re comparing the relatively safety of Japan and that of America and you drew the conclusion, again not directly but implied that Japan is more dangerous because you have been assaulted and watched another get assaulted but in America, you were never assaulted, not even once.

        you have repeatedly asserted indirectly that America even though possessing the reputation of a dangerous country is in reality safer than Japan, with a reputation of being safe, in other-words you’re simply a contrarian.

      • Charles

        Then you (and Gordon Graham) clearly misunderstand and are reading things into my writing that I was not trying to put into my writing. I was “implying” that my HOMETOWN is safer than many PARTS of Japan, as part of a larger argument that “country-wide statistics are misleading for individual areas, because crime levels vary extremely widely within a country.” A point that you (and Gordon Graham) clearly missed.

        Did I ever once say that Baltimore or Detroit were safer than Japan? No,
        of course not. That would be ludicrous. But am I saying that my
        hometown, Fairfax, Virginia, is safer than certain parts of Japan such
        as Sakuramachi, Kabukicho, and Tobita-ku? Yes, I sure am.

        My point is that it is dumb to go on statistics for an entire country. My hometown, Fairfax, Virginia, is most certainly safer than the three unsavory locations I just mentioned, and therefore, looking at country-wide statistics and saying that “Japan is safe” and “America is dangerous” is dumb. Look at the statistics for the neighborhood that you are going to be living in for a more accurate picture.

        Is Japan safe? That really depends on where you set the bar for “safe.”
        For me, that bar is very high. If someone is picking a fight with me on
        average every couple of years, then no, I do not consider that place
        safe. These are the same assertions I have made since my very first reply to Ron NJ.

        You may think I’m a “contrarian,” or that my personality type attracts mafia types or violence. Okay, fine. Don’t believe me? Why not go out in Kabukicho, Sakuramachi, or Tobita-ku at night. Don’t bother bringing a friend, because “Japan is safe.” Laugh at me as you do it. Go right ahead!

      • R.R.

        You made the comparison between your experiences in Japan and America very prominent but yet you do not try to make the clarification that when you say America is safer, you’re only saying that your “hometown” is safer than Japan’s seedier parts.

        You’re only using the “hometown” defense when your arguments are being questioned.

        I go to Kabukicho at night with no problems at all, in fact I’ve been there countless of times as I’ve used the streets as a short cut back to my apartment. Contrary to your portrayal of Kabukicho, there are plenty of tourists there and I do not see them feeling threatened or fearful for their safety.

        But that is really besides the point. When you make all your assertions, you always made the comparisons of countries, not cities, not streets, so you really can’t turn around now and now isolate seedier parts of a city as your argument that Japan is not as safe when you compare Japan’s seedier parts to an idyllic countryside of America.

      • Charles

        Wow, what a coincidence that you have gone through Kabukicho, the exact neighborhood I mentioned, “countless times” with “no problems at all.” Of the thousands of neighborhoods in all of Japan, you just happened to be right near one of the three I was talking about–coincidences are amazing, don’t you think?

        I find it amazing that in Kabukicho, you’ve had “no problems.” Are we talking about the same Kabukicho? In the Kabukicho that I went to:
        – Nigerian touts were everywhere and grabbed my arm.
        – I saw a Japanese skinhead deck a foreigner so hard, the foreigner fell back into his motorcycle and knocked it over.
        – When we tried to restrain the skinhead (holding him back without punching or kicking him), he started attacking everyone. He tried to eagle claw and eye gouge me.
        – After I left, the same skinhead pursued a completely different foreigner into a convenience store and started kicking and punching him on camera.
        – That night, I also saw a drunk man pass a microphone to a western woman very roughly, chipping her tooth.
        – My student used to work for a cleaning service in Kabukicho, and one of his company’s clients was a yakuza gang’s headquarters. They would make unreasonable requests about how quickly he would have to clean their clothes, and when he said that might be “muzukashii,” they would fly off the handle and scream at him! By the way, this student is a very nice family guy who works at Panasonic, not some fly-by-night guy.

        So…your assertion that you have had “no problems” in Kabukicho lead me to believe that either you have never actually been there. Or maybe you just have very selective memory/perception.

        Anyhow, I do not see the point in continuing this conversation. You seem to lack reading comprehension ability and rational/logical thinking abilities, and after me repeatedly explaining my central points, you continue to create straw men and put words in my mouth. I could spend almost every waking hour of every day trying to defend my rational, logical points of view from ignorant people on the Internet, especially victim blamers, but that would be a waste of time and life and would drag me down with no clear benefits.

      • Gordon Graham

        The juxtaposition I referred to…”dangerous” America, “oh so safe” Japan (I understand that sarcasm is implied by the use of quotation marks). What are we to infer from this? “I lived in America” where not a single incident beyond the usual schoolyard fight takes place. Yet “have been assaulted in Asia” several times. Yes, I clearly misunderstood.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Japan is safer, yes. But you can’t expect the same treatment of crime in Japan. If the prosecutor thinks they can’t win a case, the police won’t even arrest anyone. They won’t even make an official report, and it doesn’t matter if you are Japanese or not. In fact? I’d say nationality has nothing at all to do with it. And since crime stats do not show the cases that haven’t even been officially reported, the numbers are skewed.

        My girl friend and her guy friend were chased by a man with a knife in Kabukicho. Her friend managed to get him away from her by getting the guy to chase him, and my friend went to the police box. The police came to the scene of the crime, and my friend pointed out the people the guy had been hanging out with before he had attacked them. The police refused to interview them to find out who the guy was. He only took down her details, and then left. She was terrified for days. And she never heard back from the police.

        Another time, a friend of mine was punched in the face by a guy at a bar. We went to the police box, and they made a big show of coming to the bar and questioning everyone. They brought the guy and us to the police station, and questioned us for HOURS. My friend was bleeding from a cut on her head, and the police kept badgering her to admit that she had provoked him. They would NOT let up. It was past 5am by then, she was exhausted, confused, and needed to go to a hospital (she eventually got 3 stitches), so she dropped the case and we all went home.

        The next day after some rest, she came back to the police box with a Japanese friend, and demanded to make a report. They refused.

        That is the sort of thing that goes on here. *shrug* They knew they wouldn’t be able to pursue the case, since she was drunk, he was drunk, and they just wanted it to go away.

        Actually, I have several other similar stories from other experiences with the police here, but I don’t want to have to write them all out. They are all in the same vein, however.

        The system here is broken. It’s not as bad as the system in some other places, but it still needs fixing – and that is a cold stone hard fact.

      • R.R.

        so I guess if you have been the target of a crime, you’d simply not report it since you harbor such a strong contempt towards the Japanese police.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I have been the target of a crime, and did go to the police. I had a stalker for over a year, and all the police did when I reported her was to first roll their eyes at me, and secondly tell me to call them if she actually attacked me. Yep, real helpful.

        I’ve also been groped on the subway and on the street, and a man at the beach tried to take a picture down my bathing suit.

        Do you know the saddest thing? Women tend not to bother reporting crimes like these, because they know exactly what the response will be. Who wants to go though that? We learn to be emotionally tough, and just handle it on our own.

      • R.R.

        you seem to attract violent crimes, I really wonder what is it about you that attracts all these “mafia” type encounters.

      • Charles

        Victim blaming.

        First off, I’ve lived in Asia for over 13 years. It’s natural that I’ve had more problems than the average gaijin, because the average western gaijin only lasts two or three years in Asia. It is only natural that with 5x as much time in Asia as the average gaijin, I would have had 5x as many problems in Asia as the average gaijin.

        I have been in five bona fide “fights” in Asia not including schoolyard bullying. That is roughly one fight every two to three years–the majority of western gaijin do not even live here that long.

        Oh, but I’m sure that some guy or gal will come out of the woodwork and say “I’ve lived in Asia for 50 years and never had a single problem.” My reply to that would be one of the following:

        1. You are lying.


        2. You rarely go out on the town at night. Maybe because you’re a fundamentalist Baptist/Mormon/Muslim/etc. and/or maybe because you’re married/have kids. Japan during the daytime is pretty safe. It’s at night that certain areas, like Roppongi, are best to avoid.


        3. You’re from a demographic that is unlikely to experience any problems. A 60-year-old western woman is highly unlikely to get groped, raped, or attacked. Or, anyone who looks Japanese does not stand out in the crowd and will not generally attract much attention. Or if you are 6’6″, and 200 pounds almost pure muscle, that would also deter most people looking to start trouble. So maybe you are just lucky to be from a demographic in which other people have no interest in harassing. If that is the case, yay for you, but please understand that not everyone is as lucky as you.

        People in their teens and twenties, not necessarily through any fault of their own, attract more attention, both sexual and aggressive attention. Visible minorities (blacks, whites, South(east) Asians, etc.) also attract more attention, usually through no fault of their own.

      • Gordon Graham

        OR 4…They’re actually telling the truth and Japan actually is relatively safe.
        I’ve lived in Japan for 28 years, spent an awful lot of time drinking, going to hostess clubs and hanging out in places like Kabukicho, before I was married, and never so much as got into an argument. Oh wait, one time in Kabukicho a couple of rough chimpira types got huffy as a friend and I came in the door and bumped into them…a loud voice came from the back, the two hustled back to where the voice bellowed from then sullenly came back and apologised. We we’re then treated to two hours of drinks and food on the house…or I suppose the two goons salaries. That was my only encounter of anything close to violence in 28 years. Back in Toronto where I grew up, the cops were always busy at closing time for bars as that’s when the fights heated up and often spilled into the streets. Here I get assaulted by maudlin kindness of drunks. In Canada, if I don’t leave the bar before 1 I have to keep my head up…

    • Steve Jackman

      Japan is not inherently a safe country and the Japanese are not any less prone to commiting crime than people in other countries. This is just a myth.

      I live in Japan and I have never seen as many security guards and surveillance cameras in any other country in the world, as I see in Japan. You can go to any urban or central areas in any Japanese city, and you will see a very noticable army of uniformed security guards in almost all buildings and department stores. Now, if Japan was such an inherently safe place, then why all the security guards? Their presence in such large numbers is confirmation that many Japanese are afraid for their safety and need these security guards to maintain order.

      • Oliver Mackie

        “Japan is not inherently a safe country and the Japanese are not any less prone to commiting crime than people in other countries.”

        If you mean that Japanese people aren’t biologically less disposed to crime, then I agree. The fact is though that the rates of some crimes, in particular theft/robbery, random violence, damage to property are comparatively very low. Personally, I think the reasons are as follows (in no particular order):

        – Comparatively low levels of unemployment and relative poverty.

        – The historical contingency of the several post-war generations having brought their children up pretty well.

        – Generally crowded conditions which greatly reduces the number of windows of opportunity.

        I do not feel the number of security guards represents much at all, certainly not many Japanese ‘fearing for their safety.’ Most security guards are more like guides or providers of information or crowd controllers.

        The large number of security cameras (second in density only to the UK, I believe) is a very recent phenomenon, and cannot yet be used to explain any aspect of crime frequency.

      • Gordon Graham

        Perhaps the security guards and surveillance cameras is part of what makes Japan a safe country

    • R.R.

      Have you been sexually assaulted in Japan? are you basing your statistics on fact or anecdotal evidence? “many orders of magnitude” is this meant to be hyperbole? or do you seriously mean it

    • Anon

      “If you are a straight male”? Seriously? Have you ever been assaulted for being gay in Japan?

  • Toolonggone

    It’s no wonder that Japan has a serious problem with rape cases. Japanese police and legal system are very unsympathetic with those victims–regardless of nationality. Anti-stalker law is totally useless, since it does absolutely nothing to make systematic improvement of police investigation to protect the victims from perpetrators.

  • ElliFrank

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I hope you’ve been able to get real support from friends, family, and a rape crisis center. Please don’t give up on pursuing the real support you deserve, especially if you have not been able to get it yet. I’m so sorry you were re-victimized by the law enforcement system in Japan.

    I lived in Japan for many years almost 40 years ago. I was an exchange student at a respected university north of Tokyo for my first year there. A fellow exchange student was raped by a stranger (a construction worker working on a not-yet-completed campus building). The student was punished by the administration for having been raped by being kicked out of the program and sent home. When a group of us met with the administration to advocate for our fellow student to be supported and not punished, we were told that that they would take our passports away and send us home as well if we pursued the matter further. Unfortunately, we dropped our advocacy efforts at that point.

    During the many years I ended up living in Japan, I often heard stories from my students (high school, college, and adult) about rapes and sexual assaults they had suffered through with no help available. Some of these criminal attacks were at the hands of strangers, but as is commonly case in many countries, far more often they were at the hands of relatives or other people known to the survivors. The vast majority of the students who approached me to share their stories had never told anyone about their victimization previously. The years of holding their pain and ongoing suffering inside due to a culture that pathologizes victims as the perpetrators took an enormous toll on everyone.

    While the details of your rape are different, it is disheartening — though not surprising — to hear how 40 years later, not very much has changed in Japan when it comes to law enforcement responses to rape.

    I personally think that the moral character, ethics, and quality of life in any country should be judged in part by the rates of sexual victimization and the typical responses to survivors of those crimes. When it comes to Japan, it’s long overdue for the entire country to stop talking the talk, and to start walking the walk.

  • Oliver Mackie

    Not to deny that rapes of all kinds occur in Japan, nor to comment on the issue of appropriate police handling of accusations of rape, but some, including the writer of the headline, seem to have missed the point that the accused rapist in this case wasn’t Japanese.
    I was also surprised, to be honest, that a newspaper agreed to print this. Whilst the writer’s account of her experiences with the police can most likely be verified to have happened, the account of the events leading to that cannot. A public accusation of rape has now been made (albeit anonymously on both sides) in a very public meduim and I don’t like the idea that the accuser could now threaten to make the identity of the accused known from the (legal) safety of abroad without having to answer to due legal process here.

    • blondein_tokyo

      Why does it matter that’s he’s not Japanese? Your logic escapes me, and I can only say that the nationality or ethnicity of a criminal shouldn’t have any bearing whatsoever on whether the crime is reported, prosecuted, or the apparat guilt or innocence.

      It’s also nonsensical to say her story is less believable due to it’s anonymity. Did you not read, or just not comprehend, the part where she speaks of the shame, guilt and stigma of rape? Not to mention trauma that women go through in the form of hearing comments just like yours.

      You sir, your attitude, your *rape apologisim* is exactly why women either don’t report or else speak only anonymously.

      Additionally, her entire purpose for writing this has apparently escaped you, even though it was clearly laid out in the final, concluding paragraph. It’s not an accusation. It’s a call for action to improve the law and police response to rape.

      So even on the off, very very off, chance her story isn’t true, it doesn’t matter, because her experience with the police and the inadequacy of the legal system is what we should be worried about.

      You’d better thank your lucky stars that neither you (men can be raped, too) or someone close to you has never had to deal with sexual assault. And you’d better think more deeply about why exactly women are disbelieved, shamed, and persecution is so difficult with this most heinous and traumatising of crimes.

      • Oliver Mackie

        You make many good points, though I don’t think you are responding to what I wrote.

        The point about the accused being NJ is connected to the headline and comments which said that this case showed that the image of Japan as a safe country had been cast into doubt. I was pointing out that a case involving two foreign students does not cast much on light on that subject, unless of course one wants to make the point that the accused knew of the details of the Japanese police style of investigation and this made him more likely to attempt rape, having come to Japan. I don’t see anyone here making that argument.

        Your comments that I made any gesture towards the idea that he was any more or less likely to be guilty due to his nationality or are a ‘rape apologist’ are way off the mark and offensive. I hope you will reread what you and I both wrote and withdraw your comments.

        The other issue was one of journalistic ethics. I hope I don’t have to spell out to you the importance of the presumption if innocence until proven guilty in a justice system. If the JT wants to document the problems that rape victims face then it could do so by getting a rape victim who has received justice under the legal system to write about their experience. Anonymity would be fine, but at least the newspaper could be sure that all events were as recounted, due to the guilty verdict.

        These are important issues which should not be cheapened by dubious journalistic decisions.

      • KetsuroOu

        If a substantial number of unreported rapes are occurring every year, then the headline is accurate. Japan is not as safe as the statistics suggest.

        And the fact that rape can be difficult to prosecute may not reflect on the safety of Japan, but it certainly “points at a gap” in the legal system.

        If the legal system is flawed, then the nationalities of attacker and victim do not matter.

        At no point in the article does the author reveal, or show an inclination to reveal, the identity of her alleged attacker, so I do not think any journalistic ethics have been violated either.

      • Oliver Mackie

        Regarding your last point, I refer you to the comments posted below, advising the author about how she could expose the identity of the accused from overseas, without likely having to defend such actions legally. Current apparent inclinations are of little or no guide to the future.

    • Gordon Graham

      What’s at issue here is the lack of support and sensitivity for the victim (the perpetrator’s nationality is irrelevant). At the very least the police should have determined the jurisdiction before making the victim relive such a horrible ordeal. That level of incompetence and insensitivity is astounding!

      • Oliver Mackie

        I totally agree that establishment of juristiction should have been the first priority.
        I also think that questioning the accuser about what she was wearing inappropriate. The first was a bureaucratic error that could easily have been avoided and resulted in additional anguish. The second strikes me as insensitive by nature (though with the caveat that it might be something found to be necessary in such cases, given defence strategy when cases go to court – however I’m no expert.)

      • KenjiAd

        Let me also add
        (later edit here) that I think the questioning she received regarding
        ‘whether she really wanted the accused to be punished so much’ highly

        I think the question could be appropriate, because it appears (I’m not a lawyer) that in Japan rape cannot be prosecuted without consent from the victim. It’s called Shinkokuzai (親告罪) in the Japanese penal code, and includes crimes such as rape, kidnapping, defamation, and theft by family members. Read here: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%A6%AA%E5%91%8A%E7%BD%AA

        If the “question” was presented by the police in such a way that pressured this victim not to press charges, then it was of course highly inappropriate.

        On the other hand, it is probably true that, if this case had gone to the trial, the victim would have had gone through a tremendous level of humiliation.

        So what I think is the biggest problem was not necessarily the police, but the laws and legal procedures that the police was following. Unfortunately, I have no idea what kind of changes should be made. Perhaps people more familiar with the penal code can offer some ideas.

      • Oliver Mackie

        I don’t disagree. The general point is, of course, that the reasoning behind certain questions asked by investigators may not be evident in the early stages, but become evident later in the process.

  • rossdorn

    This story is something that went all over Europe for about one year now, but the tide is slowly changing. Yes, there is a problem, no question. But the solution comes only with a change of the behaviour of women. And the Femi-Nazis. as they are called in the rest of the world, are already on their way out. Just check the social media, where they used to be big, because in the beinning noise always goes over substance.

    In Europe people start laughing about you when write something like this:

    “my rapist — another non-Japanese resident — took advantage of the fact I
    was wearing a skirt and — with both of us still fully dressed —
    penetrated me so quickly and unexpectedly that I did not have time to
    react or fight back”

    There is a problem with rape, all over the world, but that is not what it looks like. Are you telling us, that you have no role in whatever it was that happened? Look in the mirror and take responsibilty for your actions. A rape is not something that cannot be avoided simply by wearing pants. It never occurred to you that japanese police will not very sympathetic to you in a case like this?
    There is a real world out there, full of idiots, no question. You do not want to be a victim? Then start living in that real world. It was not created for little innocent girls to have fun, and the rest of the world better behave so you can do what you want and others have to be the way you want them to be.

    Try Rolling Stone Magazine, and the story about the massrape at Virgina University, and read up on what followed that story….

    • blondein_tokyo

      I see. If a woman cries rape after a man disregards her refusal and ignores her clear “no”, and penetrates her against her will, then she’s a “feminazi” and…I’m not quite sure about your second point is, exactly, because it looks like you are simultaneously saying it wasn’t rape because she contributed to it by daring to wear a skirt, and she deserved to be raped because she was wearing a skirt.

      Which is it? It can’t be both tape and not-rape. If she said “no” it’s rape, no matter what she was wearing. And how can a person contribute to a crime that is perpetrated on them?

      “Sir, it can’t possibly be theft. You refused to hand over your watch, true; but you’re wearing an expensive watch right out in the open- so how can it be that you say “no”? You must have wanted him to have it, so now you can hardly cry “theft!”

      Please, do enlighten us. I’m sure your reply will be both intelligent and logical.

    • Hiruto

      rossdorn, your opinion truly disgusts me. How can you read a story from a woman who was raped and subsequently mistreated by the legal system and then have the nerve to say she is the problem? I can assure you, in the part of Europe where I’m from we have a more compassionate response than to blame victims of rape.

      Are you actually saying that every woman who wears a skirt deserves to be raped? That they shouldn’t expect to have any recourse when they are raped? How about tight jeans, are they an invitation for groping? Are you actually saying that men can’t be trusted to not act on animal instincts? Should women have to wear a burqa in order to feel safe?

      I agree with the previous response that there is no reason to see any more provocation in wearing a skirt than there is in wearing an expensive watch. It is not the clothes or accessories we wear that make us safe, it is the expectation that people will obey the law. In this case it was the rapist who violated that trust, and it was the police who failed to hold him to account, increasing the chances of him doing it again.

      • rossdorn

        Where you come from in Europe they may have the political correct attitude of the season…. did you read what I quoted?

      • blondein_tokyo

        I read and replied. You seem to have deleted your comment (or else JT did) rather than risk a reply. I think you know your position is untenable. And asinine.

      • Gordon Graham

        I was shocked to discover that rape only became a crime in France in 1980!

    • itoshima2012

      rossdorn, not often I agree with you but this time surely you’re truly spot on! People out there must get real and take care and precautions when visiting japan – as in ever other country of the world! Japan is safer than others, no question about that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become very quickly a victim of crime. Take precautions!

      • blondein_tokyo

        How can a girl take precautions against rape, may I ask? I am meeting a guy friend tomorrow. I’ll be alone with him in his apartment. I have known him for five years, but if he decides to rape me, how can I prevent that?

        Most rapes are done by men the woman knows. It cannot be forseen which men will rape and which won’t; so how can women take precautions? I mean, if you have a device that can see the future, then please – share it with us, so we can use it to predict who will rape us. Or maybe you can… what? Scan guys to see if “rapist” flashes on the screen?

        Do enlighten us women. We definitely need a man to explain to us how to prevent getting ourselves raped.

      • itoshima2012

        Please do not get me wrong. As a father of a daughter and as a “non freak” citizen I can tell you I feel for all women and men that are victims of rape. I think laws should be very very tough on the perpetrator and ITS IS OF COURSE NOT the victims fault. What I tried to say is that as in this article and in many others the topic “gravitates” around the fact that Japan is safe. It is safe, of course, but as any other country it has it’s fair share of damn criminals. Of course I cannot see the future, don’t get so upset, try to understand that certain behaviour puts you in a safer spot than other behaviour. One will never be able to be 100% safe but women on their own should always try to stay in places that are frequented by many people, close to a Koban ecc. I’m of course not saying that it is the victims fault if she or he gets raped but you have to admit that certain behaviour puts you in a safer spot. It’s common sense. As for “needing advise from a man”, I see nothing wrong with that or do you think only women can give advise to women? Most countries have their crime hotspots so one absolutely must should learn about it beforehand and than act accordingly i.e. not visit certain places etc. – again, one will never be safe, but one can do many things to try his/her best. Don’t you see my point? Of course it is not the victims fault if he or she gets raped but one must also admit that there are many things one can do to stay safer.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I have no doubt you abhor rapists and have nothing but concern and empathy for people who are raped. But your ideas about rape are not well-informed, and your advice? Well…

        “One will never be able to be 100% safe but women on their own should always try to stay in places that are frequented by many people, close to a Koban ecc.”

        You have to understand: the vast majority of rapes, like the author’s, are perpetrated by the men we know. And how can a woman possibly know if her friend, family member, husband, relative, or date plans to rape her? These are people women have a modicum of trust in. They aren’t strangers. And women don’t have ESP, so how can a woman possibly know that when her brother-in-law says, “Hey, come out back and see my garden.” he really means “Come out back where I can get you alone and rape you.”? Rapists don’t have “rapist” tattooed on their foreheads, so unless you want to make the claim that all men are inherently untrustworthy and women should never trust one enough to be alone with him, then there really is no way you can prevent rapes.

        Even if we change the topic to stranger rapes, your advice is impractical as well as ineffective. Women are raped at home in their own beds by men who break in. Women are grabbed while walking on their university campuses. Women are attacked in parking garages where they work. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Taking reasonable precautions is fine; but unless you advocate for women having armed security with her 24/7, or as you suggest, stay near a police station at ALL TIMES, women are not going to be able to prevent rapes.

        As for your giving women advice? Men explaining this sort of thing to women is commonly called “mansplaining”. Do you think women don’t already know that they are in danger from certain types of predatory men? Do you know any woman who takes rape lightly, or who isn’t afraid of being groped? Do you even know any woman who has never been groped, catcalled, or molested in some way? I don’t. I don’t know any woman who is not well aware of the danger she is in every time she choses to go out at night, go on a date, or even ride the subway. We live with this danger day in and day out, and are aware – probably even more than you are – what precautions we need to take. So no, quite frankly, we don’t need your advice, especially not after the fact – Oh, thank you, Captain Hindsight! I’m so glad I have you here to tell me how badly I messed up and that I could have prevented my own rape.

        Whether you mean it to be or not, explaining rape prevention to a woman who is LIVING in a female body and can’t ever forget it even for one minute is both condescending and rude.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are very brave, and very strong, to have made an active choice to come forward with your story and report it to the police despite knowing what the likely outcome would be. You’re going to read a lot victim-blaming commentary here, as well as apologisim. Please don’t take it to heart. They’re ignorant, and they don’t matter, because there are many, many more who DO support you.

    To a one, every female friend I have in Japan, including myself, have experienced some form of sexual assault/molestation. And I don’t know a single woman who bothered to report it, because we all know the police either can’t, or won’t, do anything. It’s well known they are less than sympathetic, and that no prosecutor would even make an arrest if he thought there was a chance he couldn’t win the case outright. As a result, hese men will never be brought to trial, never learn to be afraid of the legal system, and will never fear either getting caught or receiving punishment. And that is how these crimes continue, with a single man committing (statistically) as many as 7 rapes, and who knows how many other types of assault.

    Japan needs a better system, with support for victims, and most of all, to educate people about the nature of sexual assault and the definition of consent.

    • Oliver Mackie

      “And that is how these crimes continue, with a single man committing (statistically) as many as 7 rapes, and who knows how many other types of assault.”
      Could you clarify what, statisically, you mean by this, please?

      • blondein_tokyo

        As the poster below already clarified, most rapists are serial rapists, with an average of 7 crimes each. I think that says most men are good men and do not rape. It’s unfortunate that such a small number of men make ALL men look bad. This is why it is so important for the good men to speak out against rape, and make it clear that it is not acceptable. This means fighting rape culture, and rape culture includes things like blaming the victim or requiring unreasonable amounts of evidence just to believe a rape even occurred, which is what a lot of the posters here are doing.

      • Oliver Mackie

        Thank you for clarifying the statistic. And I agree. Wholeheartedly.

        It still needs to be noted though that legal systems based on the principles of witness testimony, forensic evidence, and innocence until proven guilty, have great difficulty in proving rape, and thus convicting in cases where no witnesses exist except the two parties involved and the lack of consent cannot be demonstrated by forensics (i.e. when trace-leaving violence was not used, as the above case.) Finding such evidence requirements as ‘unreasonable’ will not alter that fact. Of course, counselling and support for victims of rape, whether they can find justice under such a system or not, is incredibly important and is clearly lacking in Japan.
        The nature of the modern legal system also however reinforces the need to prevent rape occurring in the first place, some of which could be achieved quickly if certain precautions were taken. Several posters have tried to make this point (but have made it very indelicately indeed) but have been accused of blaming the victim. I would like to responsibly point out that there is a difference between advocating sensible caution and blaming the victim. Some posters here have used the analogy of wearing an expensive watch and being robbed. The point, I feel, is not that wearing the watch makes it excusable to steal it, but rather that people would be well-advised not to wear such a watch (or carry large amounts of cash, or whatever) in areas known to have a higher risk of theft. There is a difference between what ideally should happen (no theft at all and people being free to wear and display whatever watch they like) and what actually tends to happen in reality, currently. With the issue of rape, such ‘high-risk areas’ would be being alone with a male, particularly in his residence, the consumption of alcohol by the male, engaging in activities other than intercourse which increase sexual arousal, amongst others.
        To reiterate, none of this ever makes it ‘right’ to rape, or the victim’s ‘fault’ that it occured, but it certainly makes it more likely to occur. This is part of what you point out as being highly necessary education. Obviously, men also need a lot of education, particularly regarding the moral unacceptability of rape, as well as the physical and mental trauma it causes victims.
        I think all reasonable people will agree on the need to get incidence of rape down to zero.
        I speak as a father of a daughter.

      • blondein_tokyo

        The cases of rape which do get prosecuted successfully tend to be those, as you noted, where the rape was violent and the lack of consent can be demonstrated. Unfortunately, that is not the majority of rapes. The majority of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, and has a modicum of trust in, such as a friend, family member, husband, relative, date, etc. That is why consent is much harder to prove than the “stranger in the bushes” rape. It’s her word against his, and it’s difficult to determine the truth.

        The fact that most rapes are by people known to the victim is also why preaching prevention is ineffective as well as tinged with victim blaming. How can a woman possibly know if her friend, family member, husband, relative, or date plans to rape her? These are people women feel they can safely have a modicum of trust in. They aren’t strangers. And women don’t have ESP, so how can a woman possibly know that when her brother-in-law says, “Hey, come out back and see my garden.” really means “Come out back where I can get you alone and rape you?” Rapists don’t have “rapist” tattooed on their foreheads, and unless you want to make the claim that all men are inherently untrustworthy and, there really is no reason at all why a woman shouldn’t trust the men in her life.

        This means the only way a woman could even hope to avoid rape would be to shun the company of men altogether. Never be alone with one; never marry one, and certainly never date one, because date rape is THE most common form of rape, as the author of this piece could tell you. Fearing all men and shunning them clearly is impossible as well as absurd, as men are 50% of the human race and we can hardly afford to ignore each other, can we?
        This is also where the thief analogy breaks down. A person walking in a dangerous neighborhood with an expensive watch knows sh/e is taking a risk JUST by being there. If you compare this to rape, you are saying that women are taking a risk by being alone with a man, any man- because again, how can a woman possibly know which man will rape her? Additionally, you must have a VERY low opinion of men if you think all men are capable of or will rape, as all thieves will steal. You’re saying that like a thief, a man will attack a woman at any moment, without provocation or warning. You’re saying that all men are capable of rape; you’re saying all men are dangerous, and all men should not be trusted. Personally? I have a better opinion of men than you seem to. I think most men are good people, who respect women and find rape to be a heinous crime. I think most men don’t find forcing a woman to have sex to be a turn-on, and I think most men can control their sexual urges. I think most men won’t rape. Which is why I am not afraid of all men. Do you think I should be?

        I have a date tomorrow night with a man I’ve known for five years. What if he up and decided to rape me? How can I possibly know he will or prevent him from doing it if he sets his mind to it?

        I can’t.

        Telling women the onus is on them to avoid rape is not only ineffective, it’s impossible, and it’s also victim blaming, especially when it comes after the fact as most people are doing to the author of this piece.

        Do you want to stop rape? Then stop contributing to rape culture in which women are blamed for their own rapes, and instead put the blame squarely on the rapist. Teach young men about consent, and make it socially unacceptable for them to push women’s boundaries and disregard their sexual autonomy.

      • Oliver Mackie

        “Teach young men about consent, and make it socially unacceptable for them to push women’s boundaries and disregard their sexual autonomy.”

        Yes, which I have wholeheartedly endorsed.

        “This means the only way a woman could even hope to avoid rape would be to shun the company of men altogether.”

        Statistically speaking, yes.

        “Fearing all men and shunning them clearly is impossible as well as absurd, as men are 50% of the human race and we can hardly afford to ignore each other, can we?”

        Exactly. But you are missing my point, I think.

        In the longer term, the solution is education, as you and I have already noted. Education particularly of males. Also, very severe punishment of proven rape cases would act as a deterrent. But, in the meantime, there are sensible steps that can be taken to minimize the possibility of rape, steps which until not very long ago were considered by both men and women to be common sense and the social norm, namely:

        Unless a relationship has reached a point where the woman is ready to have sexual relations with a man, don’t:

        – Go alone with him to his or your place of residence or any other location which is secluded. If you really wish to go there, go with someone else as well.

        If you stick to the above guideline, then anything which could happen after that (see my comments above about engaging in activities that act as a sexual stimulant) will not happen.

        “You’re saying that all men are capable of rape; you’re saying all men are dangerous, and all men should not be trusted.”

        Yes, in short, all men are capable of rape. The fact that most do not rape is similar to the reason that most men do not engage in violence of any kind, that is they have a moral compass that counters their potential for such action. The analogy is also similar in that it has a grey area where men may even surprise themselves by their behavior, when alcohol and/or new situations are involved. (This of course does not apply to serial rapists.)

        If you want to look at what

        1) inside knowledge of what goes on during a man’s head regarding the conflict between sexual urges and moral leaning

        coupled with

        2) a particularly strong protective attitude towards certain females

        results in, then look at fathers of daughters, and what they do to protect them. There’s a reason they try to persuade their girls not to dress a certain way, why they want to meet the boys they are going out with first, why they want to know where their daughters are at all times, why they want girls to be in a group of friends rather than just the two of them etc etc

        Such fathers would also love to live in a world where rape never happens, but they know full well that things are quite different. Such fathers would never seek to blame their daughters for being raped, but do see the sense of acknowledging the immediate reality, and taking sensible precautions. Such fathers would also scream for justice were rape to occur.

        You can continue to question my motives if you wish, I can’t stop that. In my native culture (the UK) it is considered against the spirit of charity to publicize one’s charity work. If you wish to contact me directly, however, I would be happy to fill you in on the work I have been doing for some 6 years which has a direct connection to this topic, if that would help to convince you that I am no ‘apologist’ for such terrible acts.

      • Gordon Graham

        What in your estimation would be an “unreasonable amount of evidence”?. I want to be clear here, rape is a heinous crime and I fully concur victim blaming is absurd and reveals something about the person doing so. I also believe that things such as rape porn should be illegal, and that men need to step up and say “hey that’s not cool” when someone pops off with anything remotely suggestive of rape when making jokes. The culture of change has to start with men educating their sons about respecting women. I also believe that rape should be punished more severely than it is, a minimum of 10 years would be a starting point. That said, irrefutable evidence is necessary. Again, what in your estimation is unreasonable evidence?

      • blondein_tokyo

        I’m mainly speaking of people who say things like, “She didn’t fight him, there are no bruises” or people who have certain expectations of victims, such as that they ought to be traumatized or act in a certain way. There are a lot of myths out there about the way people “should” act or feel, and it’s considered evidence against the victim if the victim doesn’t fulfill that imagined role “properly”.

        Many rapes aren’t violent. They are much, much harder to prove, which is understandable, but people requiring hard, clear evidence of guilt before they will even believe victim is not just lying is, in my view, unreasonable. After all, we aren’t a court of law. Those standards don’t apply to you and me or anyone who isn’t a judge or jury. We should, *in general*, believe women. A lot of the posters here, for example, are accusing the author of this piece of lying outright simply because she is not saying her attackers name. I think that is akin to requiring unreasonable evidence.

        I hope that is clearer. I’m not quite sure how to explain it well.

      • Gordon Graham

        I’m sorry, I thought you were referring to evidence to be used in a court of law to convict a rapist, not that to convince an Internet skeptic.

      • blondein_tokyo

        Both, actually. For one thing, people keep confusing the standards of evidence for a conviction in a court of law, with having enough evidence to simply believe a crime occurred.

        The police need to believe a crime occurred before they will launch an investigation, and often times they have the same wrong ideas of how a rape victim should act. If a woman doesn’t have bruises, isn’t traumatized enough, or can’t tell her story clearly (or tells it TOO clearly…) the police won’t even take her seriously.

        As an example, I read a story a while back about a prosecutor who refused to believe a woman had been raped because she was wearing skin tight jeans. His “reasoning” was, “you can’t take those jeans off without force, and since she is not bruised, there must not have been force, therefore there was no rape.”

        He refused the case so a jury never even got to hear testimony, and so she didn’t even get the *chance* to prove her case according to the rigid standards required for a conviction.

    • kayumochi

      one day you will realize that online activism largely ineffective, particularly by gaijin in Japan.

  • Gordon Graham

    3 years?! The punishment for rape should be a minimum of 10 years. That said, the proof should be irrefutable.

    • rossdorn

      And what kind of proof did you have in mind that fulfills that criterion?

      That is the one real problem about rapes, usually they happen behind closed doors, and it is in the nature of rape, that there are no witnesses. So it is usually a “he said, she said” situation. What do you suggest a well meaning judge does?
      The times when people actually did believe that women are the better humans and can be trusted, stopped a while ago.
      That is why I mentioned the Rolling Article, where a women right now has been shown to have lied….
      And here all the “good” people of course believe a women, just because she said, she did not even notice how it happened, but it did, while she was totally dressed ….

    • Dipak Bose

      not public beheading? That would stop rapists.

    • blondein_tokyo

      Shouldn’t it be for all crimes? Why should rape be treated differently from other crimes?

      It might not have been your intention to intimate that proof for rapes should be of a higher standard, but that is what you just did.

      • Gordon Graham

        Yes, you’re right. It should be equally irrefutable for all crimes. Absolutely

  • Internet Terracotta Tiger

    Thank you Japan Times for publishing this account. In any developed country, the proof of criminal conviction in sexual assault is proof beyond reasonable doubt, which unfortunately makes convictions very difficult in any country especially if there is only one witness.
    However, in a defamation case truth is a valid defence. That’s why I’ve had no problem successfully blasting the creep who sexually abused me as a child off the internet, in terms of any self-promotion of his whatsoever in accessing more children back in Canada. Once safely in Japan I was also able to humiliate collaborators who had provided false testimonies on the creep’s behalf (a simple google search easily exposed a lie about not being friends with the accused!), and proudly give the finger to anyone who objected.
    Perps know perfectly well that it’s next to impossible to convict them – my former abuser smirked through an entire 2-day preliminary hearing until suddenly realising I had thoroughly kicked his a&& and that Defence would lose (the false testimonies came before the main trial). That’s why I think this writer and others like her could similarly use the internet to her own advantage, especially when she and her former abuser are in different national jurisdictions. You can’t extradite someone over sex abuse allegations which are likely to be true, and revenge is a dish best served cold. And irritating the usual jerks who seem to think that creeps should get away with sex abuse is part of the fun.

  • Chou Masamori

    Hi. Thanks for sharing, and i feel sorry for you. But, i don’t think that Japan is in the wrong. I think the one wrong is mindset of guys. I don’t know why it’s happening in Japan a lot. Since when guys became a horny d*ck ? Are guys that treat women as treasure is scarce now ? Sad. I don’t even get how guys can rape. Man, i just want to punch them.

    Please make this a lesson to every girl that see this, to learn self-defense.
    I hereby curse all horny d*ck all over the world. Please die rapist.

    • Charles

      “i don’t (sic) think that Japan is in the wrong. I think the one wrong is mindset of guys (sic).”

      So basically, to summarize what you just said in more articulate language: “I don’t think Japan is in the wrong–just the males who make up half of its population.” Wow, that is some real cherry-picking!

      “Since when guys became a horny d*ck (sic)?”

      Wow, great way to tar all guys with the same brush. For the record, I have never raped a woman. Neither have the vast majority of other males out there. And simply being horny is not a crime–it is nature. Rape is a crime. Sexual assault is a crime. Being horny is NOT a crime.

      Being horny is completely normal for men. It is also normal for women who are ovulating, says my girlfriend. Without people being horny, you would not be here.

      “Are guys that treat women as treasure is scarce now? (sic)”

      That is a very entitled thing to write. Please tell us, why exactly do you deserve to be treated like treasure? I doubt you are made of pure gold, silver, or rubies. Are you extremely hard-working? Talented? Are you a philanthropist who spends many hours each week saving and improving lives? What entitles you to be treated as “treasure?”

      I do not care if you are a woman, a man, a hermaphrodite, or a transsexual–being treated like a treasure is earned, not something you are entitled to just for being born with two X chromosomes.

      • Chou Masamori

        Hmm, i get what you are saying, but i think you mistake what i mean here, or i just poorly write it.
        I don’t intend to generalize mans here.
        If i do offended you, i apologize.
        Yes, being horny is not a crime. What i mean here is to the point of assaulting girls.

        You sound pretty offensive here. But i do get your point, so i won’t bother.

  • Rightly or wrongly, Japan is proud of its legal system. It is certainly not what the government wants visitors – short term or long term, residents or students – to experience. Discovering how the police investigation protocol for rape operates here was an alarming revelation for the writer. However, everything she describes could have been described to her by long term residents with years of experience. I know it’s frustrating, but we already know everything she described.

  • Oliver Mackie

    Thank you for your contribution. My question is a genuine one about the meaning of the original poster’s sentence, which I am having trouble understanding. I thought it may have something to do with repeat offenders, but wasn’t sure.

    • KenjiAd

      According to the papers ElliFrank cited, the majority of rapists are serial rapists.

      Here’s the relevant section.

      In a New England study published in 2002 in the journal Violence and Victims, 120 rapists were identified in a sample of 1,882 college students. Of the 120, 76 were serial rapists who had each, on average, left 14 victims in their wake. Their collective, grim tally included the following: 439 rapes and attempted rapes, 49 sexual assaults, 277 acts of sexual abuse against children, 66 acts of physical abuse against children and 214 acts of battery against intimate partners. These statistics leave little room for perceiving these men as basically good guys who fall victim to miscommunication and too much alcohol.

  • ElliFrank

    In light of some of the more hostile posts being made here — thank you moderator for removing them — I think it’s important to note that the reported rape rate in Japan is only 1.2 per 100,000 rapes. This is disproportionately low when compared with countries that have made more progress addressing gender bias issues, especially in relation to the countries’ systemic responses to rapes and sexual assaults.

    Responding to rape survivors with insulting, shaming, and blaming language and attitudes is a key part of what discourages victims from reporting and prosecuting rapes in the first place. It’s ironic that some posters here would contribute to that problem and then blame the writer for not pursuing charges.

    As long as the re-victimization of rape survivors continues by the general public, law enforcement, popular media, etc., the necessary changes will not take place to increase reporting and prosecution rates, along with prevention efforts.

    Again, I applaud the courage of this writer and of other survivors who speak out to increase public awareness and a process of change.

    • Oliver Mackie

      “the reported rape rate in Japan is only 1.2 per 100,000 rapes.”

      I think you meant to write, “per 100,000 people” did you not?

      • ElliFrank

        No, that’s not what I meant. The research shows that out of 100,000 rapes committed, only 1.2 rapes get reported. This is abysmally low and needs to get addressed at a systemic level in Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        Really? I’m not disputing this. I’m questioning it. How would one know, if they are unreported? That seems like an unbelievably low number. Can you cite the research in question, please?

      • ElliFrank

        Running out the door to a meeting, but will try to look up later. In the meantime, try googling “reported rape rates by country” to find the source. (There is credible research; not some bogus website.)

        Also, you are right that this is an unbelievably low number: a painfully telling statistic that speaks to the need for significant changes in Japan and other countries with comparably low reorting numbers.

      • Oliver Mackie

        I’m sorry but your statistics make no sense. In 2010 the number of reported rapes per 100,000 population was 1.0 in Japan. If you are saying that the rate of rape under-reporting is some 83,000 to 1, then that means there were 83,000 rapes per year per 100,000 population in 2010. Given that women are approx half the population, that would mean that there were 83,000 rapes per 50,000 women, or about 1.67 per woman.

      • Gordon Graham

        How does googling reported rapes confirm unreported rapes?

      • Oliver Mackie

        Still waiting for a comment on those statistics…..

    • Internet Terracotta Tiger

      100% agree! Nobody should be ashamed of being a sexual assault victim. Dignity and believing in oneself, to all and for all. Thank you too moderator for putting the miserable trolls in their place, people of the male gender who blame the victim are not real men. ファイト!

      • Charles

        I agreed with everything until:

        “people of the male gender who blame the victim are not real men.”

        Here, I fixed it for you:

        “people, regardless of gender, who blame the victim are not real human beings.”

      • Internet Terracotta Tiger

        Thanks for your feedback and the fix, I appreciate it! I wrote what I did ’cause the victim blaming posts here seemed to all be from males, but you’re right that victim-blaming can come from both genders, and it’s always disappointing. Victim-blaming seems to come from a kind of “tough guy”/”tough girl” vibe, but there’s nothing tough about belittling deliberate damage to someone. The few truly strong people I’ve ever met seemed to both empathize with others and exude a positive if somewhat discreet belief in themselves.

        Great to read your comments elsewhere too!

      • blondein_tokyo

        “Victim-blaming seems to come from a kind of “tough guy”/”tough girl”

        Yes, it does, doesn’t it! But people are all not the same, and have different fears, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s utterly absurd to chastise people for not handing a situation the way you would yourself. I’ve seen guys say things like, “Well, if she didn’t fight him…” Right. As though a woman who is 110 pounds is going to try to fight a guy who is 180 pounds, and do it without being afraid he will badly hurt her. It’s infuriating how completely stupid and without empathy some people are.

      • Internet Terracotta Tiger

        Completely agree

    • Wood Slones

      Some of them are not entirely hostile but they are in a direction the society prefers not to look because of the gravity of the crime of rape. However, it is always good to analyse issues from varying perspectives if a true solution is sort. I have not in any way supported the criminal in my posts but the admin would not allow me express my views about, though less important, issues that the society seem the be ignoring when we talk about rape cases.

    • Guest

      The society is trying to stop stigmatization to encourage the victims to come forward and report the crimes. Again, the trauma a victim passes through would be aggravated if they are blamed for not being cautious, in a case were caution could have helped in discouraging a rape case. However, that has led to a one-sided approach to fighting the rape crime. If I were a judge in a rape case, I would prosecute the victim without recourse to situation that led to the act because no situation makes it less a disgusting barbaric crime. Then, I would turn to the victim and let them know how they could have been safer, if that was possible. You might call it blaming the victim (which we all try to avoid) but I think it’s a more practical approach to fighting this crime. We lock our doors to to prevent thieves from stealing our belongings.

      • blondein_tokyo

        I have to question you on this. How can you make the victim safer, when the majority of rapes are done by people the victim knows, and so has a modicum of trust in? Is it unreasonable to trust men whom you know?

        If no, then the only way to be safer is “Don’t be alone with men; don’t trust men.” and the only way a woman can do that is to lock herself indoors away from the world. She can’t trust her father, her brother, her friends, her other relatives, her boss, the next door neighbor, the mailman, the guy at the meat counter….you get the idea.

        The common rapist isn’t a man in the bushes. It’s your friend, neighbor, date, brother, father. The sooner people understand this, the less often victims will be given this false narrative that you can make yourself safe from rape.

        You can’t. No one can.

        It’s an ineffective approach. The only way to stop rape is to stop rapists and jail them. The only way to do that is to make sure rapists are PROSECUTED.

        Stop rape culture, stop rape.

    • Wood Slones

      The society is trying to stop stigmatization to encourage the victims to come forward and report the crimes. Again, the trauma a victim passes through would be aggravated if they are blamed for not being cautious, in a case were caution could have helped in discouraging a rape case. However, that has led to a one-sided approach to fighting the rape crime. If I were a judge in a rape case, I would prosecute the victim without considering the situations that led to the act because no situation makes it less a disgusting barbaric crime. Then, I would turn to the victim and let them know how they could have been safer, if that was possible. You might call it blaming the victim (which we all try to avoid) but I think it’s a more practical approach to fighting this crime. We lock our doors to to prevent thieves from stealing our belongings.

      • ElliFrank

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts, but I’m confused by your response. Do you really mean that the judge should prosecute the victim or was that just a typing error?

        In terms of telling the victim, “they could have been safer,” that IS victim blaming. You can lock a door, but you can’t lock someone’s body — nor should it be necessary.

        To reduce the number of rapes in Japan (and in any country), it is necessary to address the factors that contribute to these kinds of sexual assaults. That means that these factors must be recognized, understood, addressed in meaningful and appropriate ways, and prevented. It is clear that there is an enormous need for rape prevention and intervention education across the entire country of Japan, with better procedures and services developed for all sectors of society. This is what will lead to change, not re-victimizing those who have already been subjected to violent sexual assaults — and every rape IS a violent crime.

  • jimbo jones

    the punishment for rape should be castration. if i stabbed someone, wouldn’t they take away my knife?

    • rossdorn

      Name a country, where they take all your knives away?
      Most of you here are very good at babbling, and a lot less good at thinking.

      • jimbo jones

        the knife that was used to do the stabbing. think first, post second.

      • rossdorn

        According to my mail, you answered: “the knife that was used to do the stabbing. think first, post second.”

        So AFTER the stabbing? In your world the stabbed person is not important, the taking away of the knife is?

        Well, I understand why JT did not allow that here. Having intelligent readers like you gives every newspaper a bad reputration…

    • phu

      This kind of “eye for an eye” crap is great for internet arguments. Maybe you should step back and think a little bit about what happens when someone who decides you deserve to be castrated accuses you falsely of rape and can afford a better lawyer than you can. Oops… guess that punishment wasn’t such a good idea, huh?

      Your ‘reasoning’ isn’t even worth getting into. The whole thought is simply stupid and clearly illustrates your general inability and/or unwillingness to think rationally past your first, ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.

  • Freddy

    I am so sorry that you had to go through this experience. Japan’s definition of rape you provided is disgustingly sexist and narrow, and the response you got from the Japanese legal system is appalling.

    I wish you well for the future and will certainly do my part (as a non-Japanese man living in Japan) to raise awareness about the notion of “consent” and challenge sexist attitudes that encourage men to feel like they are entitled to do whatever they want to another person’s body.

    Thank you for writing about this traumatic experience and sharing it with the world. It can’t have been easy.

  • Vladimir

    I don’t know what frightens me more: someone’s life to be destroyed by being raped or someone’s life to be destroyed over the false rape allegations. Also, this here is not the matter of safety as the title implies, cause the safety is all about something bad not happening, being prevented. When you are alone in someone’s private space, unfortunately, there is virtualy nothing that can be done by the police to protect you…
    Anyway, some great questions are raised thanks to the OP’s brave confession, questions that does not have universal answer but should be discussed over and over again, like: whats’s the point at which the love game stops and the rape starts? How do we (humans) convert that to the universally acceptable legal phrase? That works for the other legal cases where it is hard to prove the objective circumstances, and Japanese police deals with it the same way. My friend had an argue with his drunk neighbour, and he actually had it recorded on a spare iPhone that he uses to record all his driving, but the police interogated him for three hours that day, and then the next day as well, while the drunk neighbour was calling him names and threathening (in the presence of policemans). But, there was no violence, and that fact in Japan makes a big legal difference.
    In my country I was beaten on the street (broken tooth and fighting for the breath for a several minutes) in the middle of the day by a friend (now ex-friend, naturally) while trying to shake his hand, and beside numerous witnesses (people do lie in the court) I couldn’t make court to believe me. Actually, they wanted to punish me for rolling my eyes when he was telling how he just pushed me and I fell down… I was so frustrated, by how he used the chance to “discuss” some small misunderstandings that we had, and by how the justice works (aparently, he has the right to “defend by any means”, which includes lying in the court). I still, from time to time, remember that, and I would be lying if I said that I did not think about revenging because he escaped the justice. But that stupid feeling comes and goes, and I am happy for my choice to cut the circle of violence even if he does not understand that it was my call.
    Also, I was robbed in USA on the boardwalk (very public place) by 5 real criminals, my brother as well (and he was even punched few times), some of my friends got the knife under their troath, and one was even stabbed with knife in the back (all different incidents during the same summer). All of us were just foreign students who came for the summer in “the best country in the World” to work on some seasonal jobs and to travel a little. And, the funny thing is I still don’t blame the whole America for it. So, yes, there is no absolute safe, but Japan is the closest we can have in this world, IMO, with all the imperfectins of the Japanese police and laws.
    I wish all the best to Rachel Halle (I have no reason to doubt her story as I’ve been in her shoes, well, kind of) and I wish she will find the right modus to go on with or without the justice she deserves.

  • Charles

    Thank you for writing this articulately-written piece. I am sorry to hear that you were raped.

    I have lived in Asia for more than 13 years, all in countries routinely referred to as “safe” by the gushing western media: five years in Korea, three and a half years in Japan, three years in Hong Kong, and one and a half years in Taiwan. I have never been forced to have sex without my consent, but I have been physically assaulted by young men a number of times in all of the countries mentioned above except Taiwan (and in that case, probably only because I did not live there for a long time). In some cases, I knew the perp, and in other cases, it was a random person on the street. The episode that sticks in my mind the most is when I was walking down the street to the convenience store, and a young Korean man yelled “HEY WHITE PERSON!” and started punching me with absolutely no provocation known to me. I had never spoken to or seen him before he started punching.

    Yet, when I tell these stories on the Internet, people think I am lying. They assume that because they spent one year in country x or country y, they are the supreme experts, and that these assaults must have somehow been my fault. They say that maybe I deserved to be assaulted, or talk about how more white people should be assaulted. This is worse than the incidents themselves. This makes me far more bitter and angry than a street fight that lasted five minutes and ended in a draw. The aftermath is more unbearable than the crime itself, in many cases.

    On rare occasion, the police are helpful (one time in Korea, the police actually photographed the washboard the three attackers used to beat me and my foreign friend and asked us if we wanted to press charges), but the vast majority of the times I have been assaulted, the police have been completely unhelpful at best, and accusing me of the crime at worst.

    Earlier this year, a man assaulted me outside a bar. He attacked me, and instead of punching or kicking him, I grabbed him from behind and told him “I DO NOT WANT TO FIGHT. JUST GO HOME.” in Japanese, then released him. The other people around him restrained him. However, he broke free and started running after me! He was throwing punches at me. I had no choice but to take him down, subdue him, and sit on top of him. Fortunately, other people showed up immediately and prevented him from coming after me again.

    I reported it to the police (not my gut instinct–my dad, who is far more trusting of authority than I am, convinced me to do so), in Japanese (my Japanese is not bad–I passed the same Kanji Kentei 4-kyuu exam that my 9th grade students took with a good score). They appeared to be taking down the report, but whenever I went into certain fine (but important) details, they would shush me! They did not even want to hear those details, even though those details were essential to the report. Then they started asking me questions–my status of residence, my job, my visa expiration date, etc. Why?! I was the one filing the report about being attacked! It felt like they were trying to find out if I were a visa overstayer or not, like I was the one who had to prove his innocence.

    I asked to see the report. They refused to let me see it.

    I asked if I could write a report in my own words (I am fairly proficient in written Japanese, and can write over 1,300 kanji from memory). They said no, that I would not be allowed to do that.

    So I asked them to repeat back to me what was in the report. They said that it was a secret, but summarized it as “You got drunk and got into a fight.” Bloody hell! I had barely been drinking anything, but even if I had been completely wasted, that does not excuse a guy just suddenly attacking me out of the blue! I finally could not take it anymore, and on the second visit to the police station, I said “THERE IS NO JUSTICE IN THIS POLICE STATION” and stormed out. I never plan to visit that police station, or any other in Japan, ever again.

    The violent incidents themselves are bad, but I think the far more insidious part is netizens’ reactions (they think I am lying, or they think you are lying), the maddening apologism (“white people deserve to be assaulted/raped after everything they have done”), and the obvious fact that Japanese police DO NOT CARE about your right to live your life without being assaulted/raped. They are there to put you in your gaijin place, not help you.

    What is the result of police that do not help foreigners? Simple, gangs. If I cannot get help from the police, maybe I can get help from a gang instead.

    Japanese police consider gangs the enemy, but it is police inaction that leads people to seek justice by joining these gangs. Most people want to do things within the law, but when the law refuses to help them or turns a blind eye to the injustices they are suffering, they join gangs which offer a better chance at getting that justice. Perhaps that is why burakumin are overrepresented in the yakuza, and why Koreans make up 1/5 of the yakuza leadership?

  • Adam

    This is just so disappointing. I have seen that the Japanese mindset is to kind of brush things off (“difficult, ne…”) when it comes to equal rights. There is so much I admire about this country, so many things I can say about its greatness, that make its weaknesses sting all the more.

    I think that in America there is a risk of potential false accusations — as with any crime — but … It is obviously better to err on the side of caution in protecting victims and hear all the things people are reporting about being attacked.

    I also think that this really is a crime, and should be prosecuted by the legal system, and not by universities. I’m always left wondering when I hear about a victim who was attacked but then decided not to press criminal charges. All I can say is that if someone did it to me, I think I would not rest until I saw that person in prison. (Where, sadly, cases of rape are ongoing and never addressed.)

  • KaiHarate

    I would say every Japanese woman and non-Japanese woman I knew in Japan were sexually assaulted in some way.

    In some crime categories I do believe Japan is tops but in abuse and assault against women they are probably near the bottom if true crime stats could be known. They are 3rd world level in terms of overall treatment of females in one recent study. Crime stats don’t match that but it has to be true in reality.

    A great country and many wonderful things but like any place there is a dark side and this young lady unfortunately wound up in the dark part of Japanese culture of “why not just say it didn’t happen…it would be better for everyone that way”.

  • You are so brave for coming forward with your story. I have not gone through a similar experience, so I can only imagine how stressful and traumatic of an experience it must have been to have something like that happen and not feel supported by the system. I admire your courage and hope that one day you will feel at peace, even if justice is not an option.

  • gatobus4 ♪

    So you were drinking and know the person who raped you? that’s not rape, it’s irresponsible sex

  • First of all, I’m very sorry for you being the victim of a crime. However, for your and other’s benefit, you should know that your statement:

    Also, I came to know that penetrating someone without a condom without permission, or knowingly transmitting an STD, is not punishable by any law in Japan. This means that you can, for instance, freely and intentionally transmit HIV to a partner, something that is a crime in many EU nations and U.S. states, for example.

    … is not true. Transmitting a STD in the case you described above is covered by Article 204:


    Article 204. (Injury)
    A person who causes another to suffer injury shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 15 years or a fine of not more than 500,000 yen.

    There is precedent regarding using 204 for the situation you describe.

  • JohnNagoya

    This is a very moving article and my heart goes out to the writer but, I think it needs to be said that there are many other factors involved in a situation as this…

    There must have been some kind of foreplay that led to this… The guy wasnt just talking to her and then quickly penetrated her through her knickers etc etc…

    In cases such as this the guy may not have been going out of his way to commit a rape but simply got carried away… What was the girl doing? were they kissing, cuddling, touching…

    The article, like some real life incidents are not always so black and white…

  • Electra CV

    Thank you for sharing your story, I hope you recover from this double ordeal. Safe as it may be, Japan is not a good place for rape victims. Your trauma is messing with the crime statistics so you are not even afforded the comfort of knowing this will not happen to someone else.

  • stedman holder

    “He stuck it in before I knew it”, sorry, I’m not buying this story.

  • Darren Chin

    Forgive my possible ignorance, but how can penetration occur if both people are fully clothed?

  • Gordon Graham

    Yes, the yakuza are in Kabukicho, I’ve encountered them firsthand as in my example above. What you fail to understand about the yakuza is they run businesses in Kabukicho. They’re businessmen! Which is why my friend and I were treated by them when two of their chimpira tried to act tough. As customers, we were money walking through the door. I’m sure that’s what their yakuza boss let those punks know when he most likely made them pay for our food and drinks. The crime in Kabukicho is mostly yakuza on yakuza crime, visa related crimes or crimes caused by drunken foreigners who want to take on the world when they have more than a few drinks. The yakuza don’t bother the general public as a rule and code of honour. I don’t need to read your quotes from lonely planet types, I’ve been to Kabukicho many many times, have been to the brothels and hostess bars and have always enjoyed myself thoroughly and been treated very well…On the other hand, I would never dare walk the slums in the south side of Chicago.

  • Gilla

    As I tell my female friends who haven’t been to Japan, “You need to be more careful about being sexually assaulted than getting your stuff stolen.”

    I was there for only a year and a half and was assaulted twice.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed my time there but we all know how poorly Japan ranks when it comes to gender equality – it’s the lowest ranked developed country, behind India, Bangladesh and Cambodia according to the WEF. And I hate to say it, but the manner in which rape cases are (or rather aren’t) dealt with comes as no surprise to me. Victim blaming and the shoving of cases under the carpet will persist until women there are valued as equals.

  • My Name

    I’d love to hear the other side of the story. Especially how he magically performed rape, while his cloths was still on and so where hers, and did it so quickly that she had absolutely no idea it was a possibility or any time to react until it was too late.

  • Gordon Graham

    All because YOUR “guardian” was so concerned about HIS reputation. Every single Japanese person I know would never have let your ex- boyfriend in the house in the first place and would have jumped him and called the police if he managed to get by and assault you…every single one!

  • Gordon Graham

    You never knew there was crime in a country of 130,000,000 people? And you’re studying to become a teacher?

  • Gordon Graham

    Yeah, man it’s really big in Japan! It’s all the rage!

  • Alex V

    “In a situation where I had several times told a new acquaintance that I
    did not want to have sex, my rapist — another non-Japanese resident —
    took advantage of the fact I was wearing a skirt and — with both of us
    still fully dressed — penetrated me so quickly and unexpectedly that I
    did not have time to react or fight back. Neither did he need to resort
    to violence.”

    Maybe it’s me, but this is the most vague and strangest account of rape I’ve ever heard. As another poster mentioned, how the hell did a rape occur if both were fully clothed? Was the guy The Flash?

  • Temperance Raziel

    Given the circumstances around this incident, there isn’t a prosecutor in any country that would have attempted to bring this to trial as conviction would have been impossible. This has nothing to do with a myth of safety in Japan, as it truly is safer than just about anywhere else in the world. The attacker was not even Japanese.