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A Justice Ministry panel is discussing ways to toughen penalties for sex crimes and reform the process of bringing alleged criminals to trial. The current legal provisions concerning sex crimes are far from adequate and out of line with world standards. The expert panel’s discussions are extremely important to help reduce sex-related crimes in Japan.

The main problem is finding reasonable ways to protect victims, while still ensuring that all those crimes are prosecuted. Current legal provisions state that rape and indecent assault can only be prosecuted if the victim files a complaint. Many victims do not file in order to protect their privacy and reputation. Once upon a time, that provision may have been one way to protect the honor or social reputation of women who suffered sexual assaults. However, that provision now means that many attackers walk away free when women decline to press charges. The attackers, one must assume, go on to commit more crimes.

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