Japan is considering revising related laws to strengthen measures against sex crimes, with possible changes including a broader definition of what constitutes rape and making it a crime to take videos of rape, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Friday.
Other measures under consideration include raising the age of consent from the current 13.
Kamikawa said that she will consult the Legislative Council, an advisory panel to the minister, on the proposed measures on Thursday.
A total of 10 measures will be proposed, including setting up a new provision that would punish sex crimes between people with a power imbalance, such as teachers and students, and senior and junior employees. Others include punishing to the same degree as rape the forcible insertion of any body part or object into the body of the victim, which is currently treated as indecent assault. Revisions would also clarify that rape can occur between spouses and the statute of limitations for such crimes would be reviewed.
The ministry is also planning to establish penalties for providing videos and photographs of rape, which would include a mechanism for such videos and photographs to be confiscated and deleted even if the case does not lead to an indictment.
In addition, the issue of people taking sexually suggestive photos of athletes may be discussed after numerous photographs and videos of female athletes were posted online last year along with descriptions such as “erotic sports images” and “bloopers on TV.”
The Penal Code specifies that a physical assault, physical threat, insanity or an inability to resist on the part of a victim is a required component to meet the legal definition of rape or sexual assault.
However, an expert panel at the Justice Ministry has called for replacing the two crimes with one — a crime of sex without consent — in which the required components are either eased or abolished. The proposal comes after the legal definition of rape proved to be a stumbling block in cases where victims were unable to resist out of fear.
However, some have expressed caution over the proposal, saying that a significant easing of the requirements may make the scope of punishable acts too broad.
The revised Penal Code, implemented in 2017 to boost measures against sex crimes, comes with a supplementary provision that urges the government to re-examine the issue so that punishments reflect the actual situation of crimes.
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