The Age Of Consent In Japan
The age of consent is only 13, which is at the behest of many people in Japan. As such, this is one of the lowest ages of consent around the world.
The age of consent has been enacted in Japanese law since 1907. The supporting Juvenile Obscene Act has been in place since 1947 to add some clarity to the laws.
Consent Laws For People Under 18 In Japan
Even though the age of consent in Japan is only 13, it does not mean that it is lawful for a person above the age of 13 to engage in intimate acts with someone who is only 13.
What it means is that a person who is 13 or 14 can engage in consensual acts with a person that is the same age.
When it comes to people between the ages of 14 to 18, the laws become a bit more confusing. The law does not say whether it is lawful for people in this age range to engage in consensual acts with people that fall in the same age range.
A person under the age of 13 or 14 is not able to engage in consensual acts with a person and have it be lawful unless that person is also under the age of 13 or 14. If a person uses any type of force against a person aged 13 or 14 for sexual purposes, it is considered a crime.
A sexual act can be considered a misdemeanor under Japanese law under the following circumstances, which is part of what can make the laws seem very complicated:
- A male person under 13 engaging with a person under 18, over 18, or over 20 years old
- A person under 14 engaging with a person under or over the age of 20 years old
- A person under 18 years old engaging with a person under 20 or over 20 years old
Consent Laws For People Over 18 In Japan
The laws can seem even murkier when it comes to what is considered legal for people between the ages of 18 and 20, as well as over 20. Essentially, people in this age range are legal adults.
However, the law advises that activity between two people under 20 or between a person between 18 and 20 and a person over 20 may or may not be legal depending on the circumstances.
For people over 18 but under 20 years old, or for people over the age of 20, the following circumstances would be classified as a misdemeanor under Japanese law:
- A person under 20 engaging with a person under 14 or under 18 years old
- A person over 20 engaging with a person under 14 or under 18 years old
It is a felony for a person under 18, under 20, or over 20 to try and engage in an act with a female person under the age of 13 years old.
Statutory Rape In Japan
One of the biggest concerns one might have looking at the complicated consent laws in Japan is what constitutes statutory rape.
In Japan, it is considered statutory rape when an act of any kind is forced upon a female person under 13, regardless of how old the offender is.
Issues With The Unclear Consent Laws
It can be upsetting for some to learn of the consent laws in Japan because they seem not to explicitly state whether relations between certain age ranges are or aren’t legal.
It can lead to a lot of abuse of the laws and the ability for people to get away with these crimes due to the uncertainty of the law.
Additionally, the worldwide over-sexualization of Japanese women and girls, it can make Japanese women and girls feel less secure that the law is going to protect them should they experience sexually-based violence.
Many aspects of Japanese culture have played into this over-sexualization, with a propensity to focus on more youthful-looking Japanese females.
Some examples of this include kawaii girls in anime or maid cafes that have employed underage and very young women.
Unfortunately, sexually based crimes are prominent in Japan, with 50% of Japanese women, some very young or under 18, saying they have been inappropriately touched without consent (chikan) while on a train. Furthermore, statutory rape rates have increased in Japan.
How Consent Laws Vary By Prefecture
Some prefectures in Japan have stricter laws than others regarding age and consent.
Some prefectures also have additional laws to try and prevent sexually based crimes against young people under the age of 18, as well as sexual crimes against anyone.
One such example is in Tokyo, where the law prohibits sexual activity, consensual or non-consensual, for persons under 18. In contrast, Minami-Tori-Shima Islands hold the age of consent to 13 years old.
The Age Of Consent And The Japan Child Welfare Act
The Japan Child Welfare Act states that a person under 18 is considered a child.
Therefore, it would be expected that the above-mentioned consent laws involving people under 18 would be more clear-cut, as anyone under 18 should be considered a minor.
This Act further explains what actions would be considered unlawful when it involves the expectation of a child to commit these acts.
For example, it’s a criminal act to expect or force a person under 18 to work somewhere that sells products used for sexual purposes.
Furthermore, unless a woman is 16 years old or older or a male is 18 years old or older, they cannot legally get married. The only circumstance that would allow people under these ages to get married would be with parental consent.
Criticism Of The Age Of Consent Laws In Japan
There have been some major instances of uproar in Japan regarding the age of consent laws. The government has not been quick to discuss potential amendments to the laws.
Furthermore, there have been cases of statutory rape where the perpetrator essentially got away with the crime because, in Japan, it is not considered a crime in many cases or certain prefectures.
A petition in 2020 even called for the age of consent to be raised from 13 to 16 years old. Part of what has caused so many to be outraged by this is a lack of understanding of the age of consent laws in Japan.
This is fair, as the laws are not written in clear language, so they are often left up to interpretation.
There is also the issue of how legislation differs in some circumstances between genders. For instance, it’s a felony to initiate sexual activity with a female under 13 years old if the perpetrator is 15-20 or older than 20.
However, if a perpetrator of the same age tried to initiate sexual activity with a male under 13, it would only be a misdemeanor.
Punishments For Sexually Based Crimes In Japan
In cases of statutory rape in Japan, a person can be sentenced to at least three years in prison and forced to complete labor while in prison.
Someone who victimizes someone over 13 years old for sexual purposes, including assault, unwanted touching, or indecent exposure, can be sentenced to anywhere from six months to ten years in prison.
It is also considered a sexually based crime in Japan for a person to try and engage in any kind of sexual activity with any person who is impaired or unconscious.
The Future Of Age Of Consent Laws In Japan
Consent Laws Throughout Asia Via Wikipedia
In 2017, the Penal Code saw its first changes since it was enacted in 1907. One of the changes requires that the laws be reviewed every three years.
A committee has been set up to undertake these reviews, known as a Justice Ministry Committee.
The last time the code was reviewed, no change to the age of consent was discussed. However, the committee acknowledged that there is a need to further review current laws in place to protect young people in Japan from becoming victims of sexually motivated crimes.
survey conducted in 2021 on gender equality in Japan
There has also been some debate amongst committee members regarding how to determine what would constitute an unlawful act should the age of consent be raised.
Ask Japanese Youtube Channel Takes A Look At The Age Of Consent
What is the age of consent in Japan and why? ›
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.Does age of consent vary in Japan? ›
Several other countries, including Niger and Japan, have designated 13 as the age of consent—although Japan has notoriously inconsistent consent laws that designate different ages of consent, ranging from 13 to 20, depending upon where one is in the country.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 law of consent in Japan? ›
The Japanese government has proposed changing its consent age from 13 to 16 years old. If passed, the country will no longer have the lowest age of consent of all G7 nations. The overhaul of Japan's sex crime legislation comes after multiple acquittals in sexual abuse cases.What is the age of consent in Japan by prefecture? ›
What is the age of consent in 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. Most countries set the age of consent at 14 to 16.What is the age of consent in Tokyo Prefecture? ›
Some prefectures also have additional laws to try and prevent sexually based crimes against young people under the age of 18, as well as sexual crimes against anyone. One such example is in Tokyo, where the law prohibits sexual activity, consensual or non-consensual, for persons under 18.Is 18 considered 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.What is the meaning of age of consent? ›
Age of consent is a legal term for the age a person must reach to give consent to sex. If an adult engages in any type of sexual activity with someone below the age of consent in that state, they're committing a crime even if the minor said they agreed to have sex.Is 15 and 18 legal? ›
In a Nutshell: Sex between an 18 year-old and a 15 year-old is illegal in California, meaning any touching of “private parts” of either, even with consent of both parties (and perhaps even the parents of each teenager) is illegal in California because the age of consent is 18.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.
What countries have age of consent at 14? ›
Europe's lowest age of consent is 14, which applies in countries including Austria, Germany, Serbia, Italy and Portugal, while Some of the European countries set 16 to 17 as the age of consent, several others, including Malta and Vatican City, require to be at least 18.Did the age of consent have to be 14? ›
The ages of consent were raised across the U.S. during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. By 1920, 26 states had an age of consent at 16, 21 states had an age of consent at 18, and one state (Georgia) had an age of consent at 14.Is Japan changing the age of consent to 18? ›
The age of consent in Japan has remained unchanged since 1907 and is one of the lowest in the world - and among all G7 nations. In Germany and Italy it is 14, in Greece and France it is 15, while in the UK and many US states it is 16. A justice ministry panel in Japan has proposed raising the age of consent.Does Japan have informed consent? ›
In 1990, the Japan Medical Association (JMA) officially declared that physicians should obtain informed consent from their patients for treatment and addressed the significance of patient self-determination. The definition of informed consent is identical to that used in the US (8).What is considered a minor in Japan? ›
While the APPI does not have a definition of a "minor", an individual who is below the age of 20 is a minor under the Japanese Civil Code.Is the age of consent in Japan 13 or 16? ›
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.Can a 13 year old go to Japan alone? ›
Unaccompanied minor service is mandatory for a child age 5-11 traveling without an adult. Children ages 12-17 years are not required to travel as unaccompanied minors, but the service is optional for this age group as well. Children under 5 years of age are not allowed to travel unless accompanied by an adult.Can I go to Japan by myself at 16? ›
If you are a citizen of the US you can go to Japan at 17. You would not need a visa or a parental consent to travel. You need a visa card in your name to book a flight or stay in a hotel .What state has the lowest age of consent? ›
Most of the states start at the age of 16, However, Arizona, North Dakota, Oregon and Virginia states has minimum age of victim is 15.Can a 16 year old live in Tokyo alone? ›
The minimum age to rent a property is 18 starting from April 1st, 2022, and people under that age are required to get parental consent.
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.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.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.Does Japan have a child limit? ›
Finally, in October 2015 the government, "to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population," allowed all married couples to have two children, which still attracted criticism on the grounds that the government cannot dictate how many children one can have.Can a 14 year old consent to a 21 year old? ›
A 14 or 15 year old can consent to sexual activity as long as the partner is less than five years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person.Are Romeo and Juliet laws real? ›
California does not have a Romeo and Juliet law. It is illegal to have sexual relations with a minor, even if the offender is a minor. A minor is any person under 18 years old. There is an exception to the statutory rape law for married teenagers.Can a 20 year old date a 16 year old? ›
No, it is generally not illegal to simply be in a non-sexual relationship with a minor. However, just because it is not illegal to date someone underage does not mean that everything in the relationship is permissible. Some non-sexual conduct that is common in dating relationships may still be illegal.Can a 20 year old date a 17 year old in Texas? ›
While it is not against the law for an adult to DATE a minor in Texas, it is illegal to have sex with someone who is 14 to 17-years-old if you are more than 3 years older then them, even if the sex is consensual. Breaking this law is considered statutory rape.Can a 15 year old boy be in love? ›
TL;DR: Teens can absolutely fall in love. Adults might tell you that your brain is still developing, and that's true; in fact, it'll continue to develop well into your twenties.Is an 18 year old dating a 16 year old ok? ›
Generally speaking, an 18-year-old can date a 16-year-old provided that the relationship is not sexual. But if the relationship becomes sexual, then it could be illegal depending on the state.
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.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 country has the lowest consent age? ›
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. About half of the Member States apply different age limits to sexual acts between young persons.Why is the age of consent 16? ›
It's the age that the law has decided that teenagers are mature enough to make their own decisions. It's designed to prevent children and those in their early teens from being abused by older people. If it's illegal to have sex under the age of 16, then you can potentially be prosecuted if you don't obey the law.At what age do Japanese get married? ›
Men and women in Japan are getting married increasingly later than previous generations. In 2020, the average age of women who marry for the first time was 29.4 years, while men were on average 31 years old when they first got married.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!
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 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. The age of consent in Hong Kong is 16 years old.What is the consent age in South Korea? ›
    Although the age of consent is 15, the offender can only be charged and prosecuted if a complaint is filed with law enforcement authorities. An exception to this law is if the age of the victim is less than 12 years old or in certain circumstances such as assault or incest.What age is a minor in Ireland? ›
Introduction. In Ireland under the Child Care Act 1991, the Children Act 2001 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.