Japan Considers Increasing the Age of Consent from 13 to 16

In an effort to modernize the country’s sex offense legislation, a commission inside Japan’s Ministry of Justice has proposed raising the age of consent from 13 to 16. A string of high-profile rape acquittals in 2019 aroused considerable outcry, prompting the reform. In addition to raising the age of consent, the proposed revisions to sex crimes would make it illegal to surreptitiously record someone for sexual purposes and extend the statute of limitations for rape to 15 years.

For a crime to be considered rape, prosecutors must establish that a perpetrator incapacitated their victim through “violence and intimidation.” The panel’s recommendations also include clarifying a contentious portion of the existing law that requires them to establish that “violence and intimidation” were used. The clarification would not alter the statute’s language, but it would clarify that the phrase encompasses psychological control, intoxication, and drugging.