The age of consent across the globe is different depending on the country that you’re in.
In Japan, the age of consent is 13 years old.
However, there are some important exceptions and caveats to this law.
Table of Contents
What Is Age of Consent?
The age of consent refers to the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally capable of consenting to sexual activity.
In many countries, including Japan and the United States, the age of consent is set by law.
It can also vary depending on factors such as:
- the age of the people involved
- the type of sexual activity
- and the jurisdiction in which the activity occurs
The reason that countries set an age of consent is to protect minors from sexual abuse or exploitation and to ensure that sexual activity is legal and consensual.
The Age of Consent in Japan
The age of consent in Japan is 13 years old. It is governed by the Penal Code in Article 177.
But, as mentioned, there are some caveats and exceptions to this:
- Sexual activity with someone under 18 is illegal if the person is being coerced or if the perpetrator is in a position of authority such as a coach, employer, or teacher. This is defined in Article 176 of the Penal Code.
- Some Japanese prefectures have their own local laws that raise the age of consent to 16 or even 18 years old.
- The production, distribution and possession of child pornography is illegal in Japan.
- Prostitution is illegal in Japan, although certain activities that fall under the umbrella of “compensated dating” (enjo kosai) are not enforced or clearly defined. This is detailed in the Anti-Prostitution Law.
However, even if sexual activity is technically legal under the age of majority, engaging in sexual activity with a minor can still be considered morally wrong and has serious legal and social consequences.
How does Japan’s Age of Consent Compare to that in Other Countries?
The age of consent varies between countries. There is no universally agreed age of consent.
Japan’s age of consent at 13 years old is lower than in many other countries.
In the United States, the age of consent ranges from 16 to 18 years old depending on the state. In most European countries, the age of consent ranges from 14 to 18 years old.
According to some sources, Japan’s age of consent is the lowest of all developed nations.
Globally, only Trinidad and Tobago appears to have a lower age of consent at 12 years, with Sudan’s age of 13 for males and 12 for females.
However, it is important to note that the age of consent is only one aspect in determining whether sexual activity is consensual and legal.
Other factors such as the age difference between individuals, the nature of any activity and the presence of coercion are also important when discussing the legalities and consent.
What are the consequences for breaking the law regarding the age of consent?
If someone in Japan breaks the law regarding the age of consent, they can face criminal charges.
The penalties vary depending on the circumstances, but they can include:
- Imprisonment – Engaging in any sexual activity with a child under the age of 13 can result in a prison sentence as it is considered statutory rape. Generally, prison terms are between three and 20 years. If the victim is aged between 13 and 18 and the person is in a position of authority such as teacher or team coach, or if the person uses threats or coercion, the prison sentence can be up to 20 years.
- Fines – The offender may have to pay a fine. The exact fine will depend on the nature of the activity, the age difference between the individuals and whether it was consensual or coerced.
- Registering as a sex offender – People who are convicted of some sexual offenses in Japan might have to register as a sex offender. This can limit where they can work as well as place restrictions on their movements.
- Social stigma – Even if the person is not convicted of any crime, there are significant social consequences for those who have engaged in sexual activity with a minor. It will damage their relationships and their reputation.
Japan takes child sexual exploitation and child abuse very seriously. Anyone who breaks the law regarding the age of consent will face serious legal consequences.
Japanese Attitudes Towards Sex
In Japan, there are some typical attitudes regarding sex and norms that are worth mentioning.
In Japan, there is a cultural emphasis on modesty and discretion when it comes to sexual behavior.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon by many people and people generally do not discuss their sexual desires or preferences openly with others.
Japan favors traditional gender roles in many aspects of society, particularly when it comes to sexuality.
There is often the stereotype that men are sexually aggressive in Japan whereas the women tend to be submissive or passive.
Japan is also known for its extensive pornography industry with many styles and genres. Pornography is legal in Japan, but there are laws regulating it.
Dating in Japan is still very much traditional for many, following a prescribed set of rules and customs. Couples may swap letters of gifts to express their feelings and physical intimacy is often reserved for serious relationships.
In Japan, sex education tends to be more conservative than in some countries. Schools must teach basic biological information, but contraception and sexual pleasure are not always covered in depth.
Having said that, Japan is a diverse and rapidly changing society, so its attitudes towards sex are likely going to continue to evolve.
The proportion of young people in Japan who wait until they are married to have sex has declined recently.
Whilst there is still the cultural expectation of modesty and sexual restraint in Japan, particularly for women, young people are now starting to explore their sexuality before they marry.
There are said to be numerous factors contributing to this change in attitude such as a change in the economic and social conditions in the country and the increased prevalence of Western cultural values. The growth of social media and the internet in general is also said to play a part.
Japan has a declining birth rate too, which has led the government to create initiatives that encourage young people to get married and have children, which may have contributed to their changing attitudes towards sex before marriage.
However, there are still many people who wait until marriage to have sex, particularly in more rural and conservative areas.
Teenage Attitudes Towards Sex in Japan
Attitudes towards sex amongst teenagers in Japan can vary depending on their age, social background and gender.
However, there are some cultural norms and attitudes that still permeate teenage minds in general in the country.
There remains a cultural taboo in Japan regarding teenage sexuality despite the low age of consent.
Discussing the topic is regarded as inappropriate in many circles.
Additionally, many teachers and parents in the country prioritize academic success over romantic relationships for their children and therefore many children follow their parents’ wishes and focus on their careers rather than exploring their sexual desires.
What’s more, there still remains some stigma regarding contraception in Japan. It is available, but its use amongst young people is often frowned upon.
Given that sex education is often limited in Japanese schools, there is often a lack of knowledge for teens regarding their reproductive rights and sexual health.
As young Japanese people are exposed to more Western cultural values, their attitudes to sex are likely to change.
Final Thoughts on The Age of Consent in Japan
Whilst Japan may have one of the lowest ages of consent in the world, the culture still permeates the belief that sexual promiscuity and sexual activity outside of marriage is still taboo.
Whilst we’ve no doubt that sexual activity amongst young people does take place, there are strict laws in Japan to protect individuals from non-consensual sexual activity or from coercion.
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What is age of consent in Japan? ›
As of now, Japan has the lowest age of consent in developed countries as well as among the G7 countries where 13-year-old children are old enough to consent. A Japanese justice ministry panel proposed raising the age of consent in the country from 13 to 16.Is the age of consent 13 in all of Japan? ›
Japan is poised to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16 in an overhaul of legislation prompted by criticism that existing laws fail to protect children from rape and other sexual offences.Why do people think the age of consent in Japan is 13? ›
13 is the age set by Japanese Penal Code. But why was the age of consent set at such an young age in Japan? The reason is because the law was made nearly 120 years ago and back in those days the average life expectancy of people in the country was less than 50.What is the age of consent in Japan for girls? ›
A panel of the Japanese Justice Ministry has proposed raising the age of consent from 13 to 16. It forms part of a wider overhaul of Japan's laws on sex crimes, after multiple rape acquittals in 2019 caused outcry. The proposal also aims to criminalise the grooming of minors and expand the definition of rape.What is the age of consent in China? ›
The age of consent in mainland China is 14 years old. China's two special administrative regions, Macau and Hong Kong, have their own local age of consent laws. Like China, Macau's age of consent is 14 years old.What is age of consent in Korea? ›
To strengthen the protection of minors, South Korea has revised its age of consent from 13 to 16. Under the new law, adults who have intercourse with individuals younger than 16 will be prosecuted for child sexual abuse, or rape.Can a 30 year old date a 13 year old in Japan? ›
If the two people are not engaging in any sexual activity, nothing illegal has happened. Can a 30 year old date a 13 year old in Japan? My Japanese friend in school tells me that there are very young teens in Japan who date older men and it is accepted. yes.Is 14 a minor in Japan? ›
42. The Penal Code of Japan provides that an act of a person under 14 years of age is not punishable. Under the Juvenile Law of Japan, however, "juvenile" (shonen) refers to anyone under 20 years of age.What is the world's youngest consent age? ›
All Member States establish a minimum age for sexual consent. Most Member States set this between 14 and 16 years. The lowest minimum age is 14 years, set in seven Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Portugal. The highest is set at 18 years – in Malta.Can a 25 year old date a 13 year old Japan? ›
The age of consent in Japan is 13.
The Japanese Penal Code stipulates that the age of consent, i.e. the legal age at which an individual is considered to have the ability to agree to sexual activities is 13 years old as of 2022.
What country has the age of consent at 12? ›
The age of consent is 12 in the Philippines and Angola, and 13 in Burkina Faso, Comoros, Niger, and Japan. Japan often stands out as the only developed country on the list of lowest ages of consent, but local prefecture statutes in most areas of the country raise the effective age to 16-18.Why is the age of consent 14 in Germany? ›
The current rules for age of consent in Germany were set following a post-reunification penal law reform in 1994. The ages of 14 and 16 had been relevant since the Criminal Code for the German Empire came into force in 1872: Under § 176, sexual acts with children under 14 were illegal and have been always since.What is the age of consent in Jamaica? ›
The Age of Consent in Jamaica is 16 years old. The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is old enough to legally consent to participation in sexual activities. Therefore, individuals under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual activity.Is 13 the age of consent in the UK? ›
In each UK nation, the age at which people can legally consent to sexual activity (also known as the age of consent) is 16-years-old.What is the age of consent in Vietnam? ›
Age of Consent: 18 years Vietnam Criminal Code Art. 143, paragraph 4 Any person who employs trickery to make his care-dependent or a person in extreme need to reluctantly engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual activities shall face a penalty of 01 - 05 years' imprisonment. 4.What is the age of consent in Australia? ›
The legal age for consensual sex varies between 16 and 17 years across Australian state and territory jurisdictions (see Table 2). For other sexual activities, the criminal legislation relating to different types of sexual behaviours and interactions varies across Australian jurisdictions. Tas. Vic.What is Brazil's age of consent? ›
Brazil. In Brazil, the age of consent is 14, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Although not legally formalized, there is judicial precedent allowing a close-in-age exception for those aged 12–13 to engage in sexual activity with partners who are as much as 5 years older.What is the age of consent in Pakistan? ›
Age of Consent: 18 years Pakistan Penal Code Child Abuse Amendment Act Art. 377A.What is age of consent in India? ›
Over time, the age of consent has been increased by various laws in India and was 16 from 1940 until 2012, when the Pocso Act raised the age of consent to 18 years, one of the highest ages globally. A vast majority of countries set their ages in the range of 14 to 16 years.What is the consent age in Thailand? ›
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act B.E. 2551 (2008) Sec. 4 “Child” means any person under eighteen years of age. Age of Consent: 15 years old Criminal Code of Thailand Sec.
What is the age consent in Iran? ›
Religion: Sharia-based Iranian law states that the legal age for marriage is 13 for girls and 15 for boys, but marriages can still be carried out at a younger age with the consent of fathers and permission from court judges. This has enabled a culture whereby child marriage is considered somewhat socially acceptable.What is the marriage age in Japan? ›
Who Can Get Married in Japan? Article 731 to 737 of the Japanese Civil Code stipulates the following requirements: The male partner must be 18 years of age or older and the female partner must be 18 years of age or older.Is marriage between siblings legal in Japan? ›
#1 (Article 733)] Lineal relatives by blood, collateral relatives within the third degree of kinship by blood #2, may not marry, except between an adopted child and their collateral relatives by blood through adoption. #3 (Article 734) Lineal relatives by affinity may not marry.What's the youngest you can get married in America? ›
Child marriage is currently legal in 43 states (only Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have set the minimum age at 18 and eliminated all exceptions), and 20 U.S. states do not require any minimum age for marriage, with a parental or judicial waiver.What is the legal age in Russia? ›
Under current Russian legislation, the age of majority is 18 years; a child marrying before the age of 18 is considered to be an adult as of the time of marriage (Civil Code);What is the age of consent in Ukraine? ›
Sexual intercourse and other activities of a sexual nature with persons under 16 years of age are illegal under Articles 155 and 156 of the Criminal Code, punishable by deprivation of liberty for up to five years.Why is the age of consent 12 in the Philippines? ›
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill that raises the minimum age of sexual consent from 12 to 16, his office said on Monday, in a bid to protect minors from rape and sexual abuse.Can you consent at 12 in Canada? ›
The legal age of consent in Canada is 16 years old.
Exceptions: Persons under 16 years can have consensual sex with someone close in age. These exceptions only apply if the older person is not in a position of authority or trust and there is no exploitation or dependency.
Canada's age of consent
The age of consent to sexual activity is 16 years. In some cases, the age of consent is higher (for example, when there is a relationship of trust, authority or dependency). In other words, a person must be at least 16 years old to be able to legally agree to sexual activity.
The lowest age of consent is in Nigeria (11) followed by the Philippines and Angola (12). The age of consent is 13 in four countries – Japan, Niger, Comoros and Burkina Faso.
Is 13 the age of consent in Scotland? ›
The age of consent – what is it? For both men and women in Scotland, the age of consent to any form of sexual activity is 16. There are specific laws in place to protect children under the age of 13 who cannot legally give their consent to any kind of sexual activity.What is the age of consent in Haiti? ›
Antitrafficking Law Sec. 1.1. 8 “Child” means any person under the age of 18 years. Age of Consent – 15 years old Criminal Code Art.What is the age of consent in the Bahamas? ›
Bahamas. In the Bahamas, the age of consent for opposite-sex activity is 16 and the age of consent for same-sex activity is 18. Homosexuality was legalized in 1991, but "public homosexuality" is an offense that carries a 20-year jail term without parole.What age is a minor in the UK? ›
Young people aged 18 are treated as an adult by the law.Can a 17 year old sleep with a 30 year old? ›
This means that a person 17 years of age or older may consent to have sexual intercourse with any other person, regardless of age. A 17-year old could choose to engage in sexual intercourse with: an 18-year old, a 30-year old, or.Can a 16 year old date a 20 year old in Japan? ›
The age of consent in the prefectures ranges from 16 to 18 years, and it is illegal to engage in sexual activities with partners who are below this age unless a parent approves of the romantic relationship. In Tokyo, for example, a person has to be at least 18 years to agree to have any form of sexual relations.Is 18 still a minor in Japan? ›
The Penal Code of Japan provides that an act of a person under 14 years of age is not punishable. Under the Juvenile Law of Japan, however, "juvenile" (shonen) refers to anyone under 20 years of age.Why is the age 20 Special in Japan? ›
A turnover period in January 2023 will see a Coming of Age Day that includes a mix of anyone between 18 and 20-years old celebrating their newfound adulthood together.Can you go to a bar at 18 in Japan? ›
Especially for people who hail from countries where drinking and smoking starts at 18, the age restrictions in Japan for buying and drinking alcohol, as well as the smoking age in Japan, may be surprising: You must be 20 years old and in possession of a valid ID (for foreigners, a residence card will do).Are you 2 years older in Japan? ›
Japan adopted the modern system
Now that we've gone over the different perceptions of age in Asia and how they count their years, next time you're in one of those countries, know that they are actually 1 or 2 years younger than their western age. Don't be tricked by their Asian age system or their young-looking faces!
What is 7 5 3 day in Japan? ›
There is even a festival every November 15th called “Shichi-go-san”; literally 7 (shichi) 5 (go) and 3 (san) in Japanese. This is the day when parents celebrate the growth of their children and many families visit their local shrine or temple to pray for the health of their children and family.What is Japan 99th birthday? ›
The ninety-ninth birthday is the occasion of hakuju (白寿), "white age", because the Chinese character for white, 白, looks like the Chinese character for one hundred, 百, with the top "one" removed.What is the age of consent in Brazil? ›
Brazil. In Brazil, the age of consent is 14, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Although not legally formalized, there is judicial precedent allowing a close-in-age exception for those aged 12–13 to engage in sexual activity with partners who are as much as 5 years older.