In late July, it was reported that during a closed Consitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) meeting convened to discuss raising the age of consent from 13 to 16, lawmaker Hiranao Honda said that, as a man in his 50s, he thought it “strange” that he might be arrested if he had sex with a 14-year-old girl who consented to the relationship. The reaction was swift and harsh, and though the CDP punished Honda and planned to do something more in response to the public outrage, he quit the party and his seat.

On Aug. 9, Mainichi Shimbun published a feature that analyzed the Honda scandal. Currently, any adult who has sex with a child under the age of 13 is guilty of rape, but if the child is 13 or older they have to prove they could not resist the advances of the adult in order for the adult to be punished. Though Japan’s age of consent has remained the same for more than 110 years, the matter didn’t receive much attention until 2019 when a Nagoya District Court acquitted a man of raping his teenage daughter because she was over the age of consent. The Nagoya High Court later overturned the decision and gave the man a 10-year sentence, but as long as the age of consent remains as it is, it’s difficult to prosecute adults for having sex with teenagers.

In the article, Mainichi interviewed a woman in her 40s from western Japan. When her daughter was 13, the woman says, she was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. However, unlike with the Nagoya case, at the time the alleged abuse took place the father was not married to the mother. They were divorced.