National

Japan ranked 10th in report on global responsiveness to child sexual abuse

by Ryusei Takahashi

Staff Writer

Japan is among the top 10 countries for effectively tackling the worldwide problem of child sexual abuse but can still do more, according to a groundbreaking report released earlier this week.

The Economist Intelligence Unit measured how 40 countries prevent and react to sexual violence and exploitation of children, under its first-ever research program on the subject. Examples of sexual exploitation given in the report include prostitution and trafficking.

The study, titled “Out of the shadows: Shining light on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation,” measured the sociopolitical environment, legal framework, government response and engagement of civil society and industry in each of the countries.

The EIU gave Japan an overall score of 63.8, placing it 10th and barely within the first quartile of the countries surveyed. The London-based research firm ranked the United Kingdom at the top, giving it a score of 82.7. Countries that scored higher than Japan include the United States, Germany, South Korea and France.

The report credits Japan’s sociopolitical stability, new laws to prevent child exploitation and increased public resources for victims. It also notes that organizations are engaging society by providing services including medical support, emergency accommodations and legal help.

Although the report did not survey the scale of the problem in each country, children in Japan are “less vulnerable to sexual violence” because of its political and social stability, said Sumana Rajarethnam, principal of public policy at the EIU.

“At the household and community level, there (are) low levels of substance abuse in Japan, which are typically linked to most forms of violence against and among children.”

Still, Rajarethnam said there is “room for improvement.” Some of Japan’s shortcomings include a lack of protection for children’s rights in the Constitution, as well as a relatively short statute of limitations for cases of child sex abuse.

Furthermore, the EIU report pointed out that Japanese authorities need to collect more data to understand the full scope of the problem and that its media are not covering child sex abuse enough, the report said.

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