Japan Enforces Revised Penal Code to Clarify Sex Crime Criteria

REUTERS File Photo
Japan’s National Diet Building

Tokyo, July 13 (Jiji Press)—Japan put the revised Penal Code into force Thursday to clarify conditions for constituting the crime of nonconsensual intercourse to ensure appropriate punishments for sex crimes.

The revised Penal Code has unified the crimes of forcible and quasi-forcible sexual intercourse into the crime of nonconsensual intercourse. It was enacted during the ordinary parliamentary session that ended last month.

As the provisions of the previous forcible and quasi-forcible sexual intercourse crimes were abstract in wording, they caused variations in interpretation in many cases.

The provisions were revised after a number of sex offenders were acquitted by courts across the country in 2019.

The crime of nonconsensual intercourse is established when perpetrators engage in sexual intercourse while making it difficult for victims to form, express or fulfill the intention of not consenting, by using violence, intimidation or other acts, such as making victims drink alcohol or take drugs, scaring or shocking them, abusing them and taking advantage of perpetrators’ positions.

Under the revised Penal Code, the country’s age of consent for sexual intercourse was raised to 16 from 13. Those who have sexual intercourse with anybody under 16 can be punished regardless of whether there was consent.

But sexual intercourse between members of the same generation is exempted from punishment. Those who have sexual intercourse with a child aged 13 to 15 will be punished only if they are 5 or more years older than the child.

The revised Penal Code also created the crime of secretly photographing or filming a person’s sexual parts and the crime of requesting meetings with people under 16 for the purpose of indecency through social media or other tools.