• Kyodo, Staff Report

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The Cabinet is set to approve a bill next month to impose longer prison terms on rapists, and cover male rape victims for the first time, government sources said Monday.

The planned revision raises the minimum sentence for rape to five years from the current three and no longer requires that a formal criminal complaint be lodged as a prerequisite for prosecuting an assailant accused of rape or sexual molestation.

The revision also suggests that prosecutors can indict people based on accusations alone.

The move comes as an advisory panel to the justice minister compiled a report in September in response to calls from victims of what is often called a “murder of the soul” due to its deep, prolonged impact on their lives.

The bill also aims to include clauses for parents and others with child-custody rights who have sex with their children even without using force.

Currently use of force is required to establish a rape case.

It also calls for raising the minimum sentence for rape resulting in death to six years from five, and imposing an indefinite prison term or a term of seven years or longer for rape and robbery regardless of the order the crimes were committed in. Under current law, an offender who robs a victim after raping them faces a shorter sentence.

Japan’s sex offense statutes were enacted in the Meiji Era and have drawn criticism for handing out stricter sentences for robbery rather than rape.

Human rights groups have blasted Japan for being one of the few developed countries where sex crime victims must initiate legal action themselves.

The revisions attempt to curb recidivism in a country where 51.6 percent of the 919 people arrested in 2014 for rape were repeat offenders, National Police Agency statistics show.

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