Voice Up Japan Demands Legal Reform for the Law Regarding Sexual Violence



Tuesday, March 17th, was a big day for Voice Up Japan. Along with Spring, Human Rights now and a few other organisations, we presented 94,231 signatures to the minister of justice, Masako Mori, to officially demand a legal reform of the law regarding sexual violence.

On March 17th Mio Kodama and myself represented Voice Up Japan to submit a petition to the minister of justice Masako Mori demanding legal reform for the law regarding sexual violence, along with advocacy organisations Spring, Human Rights Now, and many others. The petition asked for a revision of the penal code to make sex without consent a crime (English version here).

The petition started in April last year on the online petition site change.org, after a father accused of sexually abusing his daughter since she was in junior high school was acquitted, though the ruling was overturned by a higher court this month. On June 24th last year, 45,875 signatures were handed to the ministry of justice by Voice Up Japan, Spring, and Human Rights Now.

The number of signatures has been steadily growing ever since, and reached nearly 100,000 on 17th March, 2020, a significant number that shows a growing awareness of the issue of sexual violence in Japan. Minister Mori acknowledged during the brief meeting that a swift legal reform that takes into account the voices of victims is necessary.

The current penal code regarding sexual violence requires “physical assault, intimidation, incapacitation, or inability to refuse” for a rape crime to be established, according to the online petition. In cases where the victim gets drunk, their body freezes, or a boss or parent uses their superiority to have forced sex, perpetrators would not be punished at all. A 2017 study conducted by the Cabinet Office found that 7.8% of women and 1.5% of men have experienced rape, yet only 1,307 cases were recognised by the police in 2018.

With the current law not protecting victims and perpetrators being allowed to walk free, I fear that sexual violence will continue to be ‘acceptable’ and victims will be forced into silence. But Mio Kodama, who attended the meeting with the Minister, is hopeful for the future. “Meeting the Minister and hearing her enthusiasm for legal reform was a valuable, positive experience for our organisation’s future activities.”

This year marks a revision of the penal code, done once every 3 years. Kazuko Ito, lawyer and secretary general of nonprofit organisation Human Rights Now, remarked during the press conference that the revision should include making unconsensual sex and sex using superior status a crime, and raising the sexual consent age, which is currently 13. I also pointed out that many student organisations in Japan are working to spread sexual consent in universities, so “the government should act as a role model for students.”

We must continue to voice up and create a society where victims are protected. Sex without consent is a crime.

【Sign the petition!】

Numbers mean a great deal, and the more the better, because it shows a desire for change. Signing the petition on change.org is easy – just type in your name and hit the “sign this petition” button. Your voice matters.


3月17日、Voice Up Japan ICU支部メンバー児玉実央と私遠藤理愛が、一般社団法人SpringやNPO法人ヒューマンライツナウなど多数の団体と共同で、不同意の性行為を犯罪とする性犯罪刑法改正を求める署名を森法務大臣に提出しました。

署名活動を始める直前の2019年3月、娘に長年性的暴行を加えていた疑いで起訴された父親に無罪判決が言い渡されました(今月12日に逆転有罪判決が出ました)。署名活動はその直後の2019年4月にVoice Up Japan, スプリング、ヒューマンライツナウの3団体でオンライン署名サイトchange.orgで始まり、同年6月24日、3団体で法務省に45,875通の署名を提出しました。

その後も署名は増え続け、3月17日時点で10万通近くの署名が集まりました。森法務大臣は意見交換会で、「被害者の声を審議会に反映させ、迅速に進めたい」と積極的な姿勢を見せました(Yahooニュース「性犯罪刑法、更なる改正に向けて要望書 森大臣『3月中にできるだけ進行させていきたい』」2020年3月18日 https://news.yahoo.co.jp/byline/ogawatamaka/20200318-00168442/)。



無罪判決が続く性暴力の実態は深刻ですが、大臣との意見交換会に参加した児玉実央は「Voice Up Japanの一員として大臣に会う貴重な経験ができ、刑法改正への意気込みを聞くことができたのは今後の団体の取り組みに熱を入れたように感じます」と期待を示しました。

2020年は3年に1度の刑法見直しの年です。ヒューマンライツナウ事務局長の伊藤和子弁護士は署名提出後の記者会見で、刑法改正の際、不同意性交と地位関係を利用した性交を犯罪とし、性交同意年齢(現在13歳)を引き上げることが重要だと強調しました。会見では私もVoice Up Japanを代表して発言する機会をいただき、大学で性的同意を広める活動をしている学生団体が数多くあるなかで、政府には学生に見本となる姿勢を示していただきたいと話しました。




Photos provided by: change.org, Mio Kodama

Rhea Endo is a sophomore at International Christian University, and one of the founding members of Voice Up Japan ICU branch.

Close Menu