In this brief guide we will discuss the age of consent in Japan as well as the age of consent in various other places.
Age of Consent in Japan
The official age of consent in Japan is widely considered to be 13, but the age at which men can marry is 18, while the age at which women can marry is 16.
Furthermore, while the age of consent in Japan is 13, no one under the age of 20 can get married without parental consent, and even the age of consent becomes an issue in specific areas.
When talking about the official age of consent in Japan one needs to remember that it is the official age of consent, and there are some loopholes to the law.
Article 177 of the Japanese Penal Code, says that anyone who “commits sexual intercourse with a female under thirteen years of age” will receive a minimum of 3 years in prison, and no less, which means that if you have sex with anyone under 13 years old you have committed a crime.
This makes it pretty clear that the age of consent in Japan is 13, till you consider the part in the Child Welfare act that specifies a different kind of consent issue.
Under Article 34 of the Child Welfare Act, one might find the following information “No person shall conduct any of the following acts (…) act of fornication to children”.
Fornication in this context regers to sex with an individual to which one is not married, and ‘children’ refers to anyone under 18 years of age, which means that having unmarried sex with anyone under the age of 16 is illegal and will be subject to criminal punishment.
Because the age of consent for marriage in Japan for females is 16, if one engages in a sexual relationship with a girl that is younger than 16, it means that they are committing a crime, and it is punishable by prison sentence.
Moreover, many prefectures (Japanese States or territories) also have local “corruption of minors” or “obscenity statutes” (淫行条例) which raise the de-facto age of consent to 16-18, with the exception of people who are in a “sincere romantic relationship”.
These are usually determined by parental consent, for example, the effective age of consent in Tokyo by local statute is 18. The age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys with parental permission, and 20 otherwise.
The questions about age of consent also raise questions about what the prosecution laws might be for people who are both minors or young, would they be prosecuted too if one of them was much younger?
This type of prosecution is usually avoided by laws that are known as Close in age exemptions, which are commonly known as “Romeo and Juliet laws” in the United States.
These close in age exemption laws to age of consent laws are put in place to prevent the prosecution of individuals who engage in consensual sexual activity when both participants are significantly close in age to each other and one or both partners are below the age of consent.
However, there is no close-in-age exemption in Japan, therefore it is possible for two individuals both under the age of 13 who willingly engage in intercourse to both be prosecuted for statutory rape, but this is a rare thing and usually does not happen.
Also, similar protections are reserved for sexual relations in which one participant is a 12 year old and the second is a 13 or 14 year old, but these things are usually not prosecuted either.
There may be instances where parental consent is withdrawn, and in that case, people may misuse these laws to hold one of the individuals who engaged in relations accountable, but again, this is rare.
Age of Consent in Japan: Child Welfare Laws
The age of consent law in Japan is mediated heavily through the Child Welfare Laws, and even though the official age of consent is 13 the Child Welfare Law makes it 16 through legalese.
The Child Welfare Laws in Japan basically state that anyone below the age of 16 is not at a marriageable age and at the same time unmarried sexual relations with them are prohibited, which automatically means that the age of consent in Japan becomes 16, and not 13.
Other parts of the Child Welfare Laws in Japan apart from the age of consent issue are:
- A child with physical disabilities or morphological abnormalities cannot be put on public show
- One cannot cause a child to act as a beggar, or beg by exploiting a child;
- One cannot cause a child under 15 years of age to perform acrobatics or stunt horse riding for the purpose of public entertainment;
- One cannot cause a child under 15 years of age to engage in such money earning acts as singing, dancing, tricks and other performances from house to house or on the road, or in other equivalent places;
Additionally, one cannot:
- Cause a child under 15 years of age to engage in such money earning acts as entertaining at an alcoholic party;
- Cause a child to commit an obscene act;
- Deliver a child knowingly to a person who is likely to commit any of the acts listed in the preceding items or a person who is likely to commit any other act violating laws and regulations concerning criminal punishment toward a child, or deliver a child to other person with the knowledge of a risk of further delivery of the child to a person who is likely to commit any of the acts as listed above;
- Arrange taking care of a child for the purpose of profit, if it is arranged by a person other than legitimate employment agencies for adults and children; or
- Keep a child under one’s control, with the intent of causing the child to commit an act making an impact that is mentally and physically harmful to the child.
Another concept related to the age of consent that comes into effect with the Child Welfare act in Japan is The Child Abuse Prevention Act and the Juvenile Education and Protection Act.
These two acts have been abolished but the essence of these acts and the laws they put into place through the Child Welfare Act and they are enforced through the Child Welfare Act.
Raising the Age of Consent in Japan
There has recently been a petition by some students to raise the age of consent in Japan, which is not surprising given that it has been a very old law that has somehow persisted through time.
The group of university students who submitted a petition to the Justice Ministry on Nov. 20 are requesting that the age of consent be raised from the current 13 to 16.
The group called Your Voice Matters and like everything else these days, the petition was started on the internet, and even to their surprise it ended up collecting about 40,000 signatures, and it was addressed to Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa.
A 21-year-old senior at Kwansei Gakuin University in Hyogo Prefecture who is a member of the group said she realized the age of consent was set so low when she began studying the issue in university.
She says, “I was very surprised, There were many people who signed the petition who also said they first realized what the consent age was through this effort. It is important to raise the age of consent in order to protect minors who are still immature physically and psychologically from sex crimes in light of the fact sexual intercourse is not taught during compulsory education.”
According to Japanese laws, anyone who has sex with a minor under 13 can be arrested for statutory rape under the Criminal Law, but to charge someone with sex crimes for having intercourse with a person over the age of 13 requires proof of violent action or threats.
Worse yet, in this case the victim must explain the extent to which they resisted in order to bring a charge of sexual assault, which is extremely damaging to the child who just underwent a trauma.
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Age of Consent in Other Countries
Here are the ages of consent in other countries in Asia and some around the world:
- Kuwait: Must be married
- Maldives: Must be married
- Pakistan: Must be married
- Afghanistan: Must be married
- Saudi Arabia: Must be married
- United Arab Emirates: Must be married
- Philippines: 12
- Japan: 13
- China: 14
- Myanmar: 14
- Bangladesh: 14
- East Timor: 14
- Laos: 15
- Syria: 15
- Cambodia: 15
- Thailand: 15
- North Korea: 15
- Nepal: 16
- Brunei: 16
- Iran: Must be married
- Oman: Must be married
- Qatar: Must be married
- Yemen: Must be married
- Israel: 16
- Jordan: 16
- Taiwan : 16
- Malaysia: 16
- Mongolia: 16
- Indonesia: 16
- Singapore: 16
- Sri Lanka: 16
- India: 18
- Bhutan: 18
- Lebanon: 18
- Vietnam: 18
- Kyrgyzstan: 16
- Tajikistan: 16
- Iraq: 18
- South Korea: 20
- Bahrain: 21
In this brief guide we discussed the age of consent in Japan as well as the age of consent in various other places.
Age of consent is very important because it serves to protect the young people in a society so that they may not have to engage in any relationships that they are not ready for.
Furthermore, age of consent is also necessary to make sure that children do not fall prey to predatory behavior without the sexual predators being held accountable for their actions.
If you have any more questions or comments about the age of consent in Japan or the age of consent in other places, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Age of Consent in Japan
Is the age of consent in Japan really 13?
Yes, the age of consent in Japan is really 13.
The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity and their partner is not held accountable for their actions.
Can a 16 year old date a 20 year old in Japan?
Yes, a 16 year old can date a 20 year old in Japan, because their age of consent is 13, and even their legal marriage age is 18 and 16 for the male partner and female partner respectively.
However, even if a 16 year old can date a 20 year old in Japan, they cannot get married without the parent’s approval as long as someone is under 20.
What is the age of consent in Japan 2020?
The age of consent in japan in 2020 is still 13.
The Penal Code of Japan was established in 1907 and the age of consent at that time was set to be at 13, which has not changed yet in 2020.
What is the lowest age of consent?
The lowest age of consent is 11, and this rule is followed in Africa: Nigeria.
In other parts of Southern Africa, including Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the age of consent is 16. Then there are some other places where the age of consent is not specified, like in Libya and Sudan, but marriage is legally required before sex is allowed.
What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues
- If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.
If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.