In late November, the Hiroshima High Court dismissed a suit for damages filed by a woman in her 40s against her father, who had sexually abused her since childhood. What stood in the way of her claim was the limitation period under the Civil Code, which prescribes the maximum time after a crime within which legal proceedings may be initiated — in this case 20 years.

"I feel like I am being accused of coming out to complain only when time had run out,” the woman, an office worker in the city of Hiroshima, said in a hushed voice at a news conference after the high court ruling. “There are other people who fall victim to sexual abuse by family members. Should we have a society where perpetrators can get away?” she asked.

In the ruling, the court applied the limitation period, noting that the woman's mental distress had occurred in her late teens and taking a starting point of "when she turned 20 years old at the latest” in determining whether 20 years had elapsed.