Under article 177 of the Japanese Penal Code, it is an offense for any person to engage in sexual intercourse with a female partner aged less than 13 years. The crime is known as statutory rape, and it attracts a penalty of imprisonment with labor for no less than three years. The law also prescribes a similar punishment for a person found guilty of sexually assaulting, intimidating, or forcibly committing sexual intercourse against a female aged either 13 years or older. However, in spite of the consensual age in Japan being thirteen years at the national level, each of the country’s prefectures and municipalities has independent laws on the age at which young people can consent to sexual activity.
Japanese Penal Code on Forcible Indecency
Article 176 of the Japanese Penal Code prohibits acts of indecency against males or females who are below 13 years of age. It also says that a person who forces any person aged thirteen years or more to commit an indecent act by the use of intimidation or assault is liable for imprisonment with work for a period ranging from six months to ten years. Under article 178, it is a crime to induce inability to resist or unconsciousness on a person to engage in sexual acts with them. The same applies to committing indecent acts upon an unconscious male or female.
The Child Welfare Act of Japan
Japan’s Child Welfare Act defines a child as anyone below the age of 18 years. Article 34 of the Act forbids any person from causing a child to commit obscene acts. It also stipulates that it is illegal for an employer to send a child aged below 15 years to sell wares in stores that carry out sex-related businesses or in buildings where dating agencies are situated. The Act also bars females below the age of 16 years and males of less than 18 years from getting married without parental consent.
Age of Consent in Japan’s prefectures and territories
Most of the prefectures in the country have obscenity statutes or laws against corruption of minors. 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. In both of Japan’s territories, Okinotori Islands and Marcus Islands, the local age of consent is 13 years.
Close in Age Exemptions
The age of consent in Japan has no close in age exceptions. Partners who engage in sexual relations with persons aged less than 13 years can be prosecuted for statutory rape in spite of the age difference, even if the younger partner consented. The absence of close in age exemptions also means that there is no legal protection for two individuals who willingly give in to intimate relations when they are under 13 years of age.