A bill now headed to the Diet will drastically amend the Penal Code's provisions concerning rape and other sex crimes, imposing harsher penalties on the offenders, expanding the scope of victims to include males, and dropping a requirement that a victim must file a complaint in order for the prosecution to indict the alleged assailant. While the amendments should mark a major improvement for victims of sexual crimes, the government needs to do more to help heal victims' psychological damage and to prevent recidivism by sex offenders.

Under the revision, the minimum jail term for rape will be raised from the current three years to five years, in response to criticism that the present minimum term is lighter than that for burglary, which is five years. If this change is enacted, it will be almost certain that a convicted rapist will have no chance of being given a suspended sentence since the Penal Code says in principle that a court can suspend a jail term if the crime merits three years or less in prison.

The current provisions, which were written 110 years ago during the Meiji era, assume that rape is only committed by men against women and require that a victim first file a compliant to effect the indictment of an alleged offender. The proposed amendments will pave the way for the prosecution of women on rape charges. It's hoped that this reasonable change will help uncover cases in which males are the victims, which have thus far tended to be buried.