A committee of the Japanese Legislative Council has recommended changes to the country’s sexual consent laws. Japan’s consent laws are complex and inconsistent, but the age of consent under its Penal Code is currently 13 – one of the lowest in the world. The committee says the age of consent should increase to 16 years of age, but that those aged between 13 and 15 should still be able to consent to sex with someone who is less than five years older than them.
The Committee’s Proposal to Broaden the Legal Definition of Rape
The committee also proposes to broaden the legal definition of rape. Japanese rape laws are based on whether a victim is incapable of resisting, not whether they consent. Rape offences also carry relatively minor criminal charges. The proposed changes do not frame the laws directly around whether consent has been provided, but they would broaden the set of circumstances where it could be determined that the victim has been denied the opportunity to consent.
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