Hundreds of people took to the streets across Japan on Tuesday to protest a recent series of court acquittals of men in sex crime cases, including a man found not guilty over having sex with his underage daughter.
Holding flowers as a symbol of empathy for victims, participants gathered in Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka and Kagoshima, as the “Flower Demo” movement spread to nine locations.
The campaign started in April when hundreds demonstrated in Tokyo and Osaka against rulings including the March 26 decision by the Nagoya District Court’s Okazaki Branch in the incest case, which sparked public outcry and criticism by some legal experts.
About 100 people participated at Tuesday’s protest in Fukuoka including author Minori Kitahara, an organizer of the Flower Demo campaign that protests the failure of Japan’s legal system to penalize sex without consent.
A woman who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually harassed 15 years ago emphasized to others at the rally, “Victims can certainly recover if they obtain appropriate support. Let’s work together so we can change our pain to our strength.”
Minami Ejiri, a 28-year-old housewife, was among the roughly 120 Flower Demo protesters in Nagoya.
She said the ruling by the Okazaki Branch of the local district court came as a huge shock, and that she had worked to organize the rally in the city.
Despite recognizing that the 19-year-old victim had sex with her father against her will in 2017 after having been sexually abused by him for years, the branch acquitted the man, ruling that she could have resisted if she had wanted.
“Let’s keep raising our voices against something irrational. Although we are nobody, we are not alone,” Ejiri said.
Several hundred people gathered at the rally held near Tokyo Station.
Other court rulings the demonstrators have protested against include a case in which a man, indicted over raping a woman after she passed out from drinking, was found not guilty by the Fukuoka District Court’s Kurume Branch on March 12.
His acquittal was made on the grounds he “misunderstood” that she had consented to having sex with him.