A group of students from the Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan submitted a petition to the Justice Ministry on November 20th requesting the country’s age of consent to be raised from 13 to 16. The group calls themselves “Your Voice Matters” and their online petition, which was addressed to Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa, has already collected about 40,000 signatures.
One of the students, a 21-year-old senior, spoke with The Asahi Shimbun about the effort, saying that she was entirely unaware that the country’s age of consent was so low when compared with other parts of the world until she studied the issue in college.
“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,” the student told The Asahi Shimbun.
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Under the current laws in Japan, anyone caught having sex with a child under 13 can be arrested for statutory rape, but charging someone with sex crimes for having intercourse with a person over the age of 13 requires proof of violent action or threats.
In these cases, the victim must also explain the efforts that they went through to resist the accused in order to prove that they adequately rejected the advance.
The petition circulated by the students pointed out that 13 is a low age of consent in comparison to other countries, and asked that it be raised to 16, which is when most children will be out of junior high school. The students also said that a lack of sexual education in the junior high school curriculum leaves children vulnerable to predators, because they are not fully informed about the warning signs.
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