~To create a societyin which sexual abuse survivors can live more comfortably~
No decisions about us without us!
In Japan, only 3.7% of rape victims report to the police. 56.1% of them cannot talk to anybody. (Cabinet Office, 2017)
Many victims have been silenced, and the sexual violence has been treated as if it did not actually happen.That is the reality of sexual violence.
Despite this reality, part of the Japanese sex crime law was revised in June 2017, after not having been changed for 110 years. (Surprisingly, until then, the penalty for “rape” had been lighter than “robbery” in the original Japanese law!)
At that time, victims’ support groups that had been active for many years, medical professionals who care for victims, officials in the judicial branch of government, people in media who report on sexual violence, citizens concerned about sexual violence, and survivors raised their voices. They pushed the government take action.
The revision of criminal law was a big advancement. However, there are many problems that remain with the newly revised law.
Please look at the following article of the Forced Sexual Acts Law as stipulated in the current Japanese criminal law.
Those who have performed sexual intercourse, anal sexual intercourse or oral sexual intercourse (hereinafter referred to as “sexual intercourse etc.”) with assault or intimidation against those aged 13 and older are guilty of forced sexual intercourse, etc. and shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than five years. The same shall apply to persons who have sexual intercourse, etc with those under 13 years of age.
As a side note, the constitutional requirement for this Article was established in 1907, and has remained in place for 110 years. It says the requirements for rape under the Penal Code are sexual intercourse with physical violence or intimidation that “could not be resisted,” except in the case of crimes of sexual intercourse by a guardian and sexual offenses against those less than 13 years old.
Therefore, Spring has raised issues with the revised law, including the following;
Issue #1 — Requirement to prove the existence of sufficient assault or threatening
We believe that sexual violence is assault using a relationship which makes the victim unable to resist or harm caused by driving a victim into a situation s/he cannot resist in many cases.
Even if a victim did not consent to a sexual intercourse, the perpetrator cannot be charged without proving the existence of sufficient assault or threats. That is the current situation in Japan. “No consent = No sex.”
Issue #2 — The statute of limitation >
Some victims take a long time to report their assaults.
However, the statute of limitations for Forced Sex Crimes is only 10 years and for Forced Obscenity it is 7 years, according to the Criminal Procedure Code in Japan.
After the statute of limitations expires, victims lose the power to prosecute and cannot demand criminal penalties.
Victims lose even the option to report the perpetrators.
Thus, with Japan’s sex crime law, while victims are not recognized as victims under the law because of the requirement of physical violence or threats, the statute of limitations for public prosecution (for sex crime laws in Japan) expires.
In order to change the current reality in Japan, Spring has been lobbying in order to solve these issues and revise the sex crime laws to create laws based on the realities of sexual abuse injuries and suffering.
What is Spring?
Spring is the first incorporated sexual assault survivors’ organization in Japan.
We are engaged in advocacy activities including optimizing the use of sex crime laws, as well as amendments to the law to make it as fair as possible to victims.
Spring is taking action to build a society where sexual assault survivors can find hope. Spring was established on July 7, 2017 in order to help sexual abuse survivors recover from their “frozen” condition and to help bring spring to those who are now living in the winter.
Utilize our experiences as sexual violence survivors as a social resource to revise sex crime laws.
Accomplish a review of sex crime laws in 2020 based on the realities of sexual abuse injuries and suffering. The Japanese sex crime law was revised substantially for the first time in 110 years in June 2017. However, the changes are not sufficient for the realities of sexual abuse injuries and suffering and there are many problems that remain with the newly revised law.
To create a society in which sexual abuse survivors can live more comfortably
What does sexual violence violate and how does it affect individuals and our society long after the events? We will inform the public and legislators about the realities of sexual violence for survivors, and urge revisions of sex crime laws based on facts.
- Sexual abuse survivors will be rightfully acknowledged as victims.
- Sexual abuse survivors and the people close to them will receive appropriate support.
- Better understanding of sexual violence will be widely shared so that our society will be more harmonious.
- Lobbying to promote review of sex crime law provisions
- Social actions to raise people’s voices
- Empowerment activities for sexual abuse survivors
- Research on the realities of sexual abuse injuries and suffering
The message from Ms. Jun Yamamoto, Executive Director, Spring clicks here.
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What are the remaining big problems with the newly revised sex crime law?
The statute of limitations does not match the severity of the physical and emotional harm
After 10 years for Forced Sex Crimes, and 7 years for Forced Obscenity, they are no longer prosecutable crimes in the newly revised law.
It is too difficult to prove having received physical violence or threats under the revised law
When victims cannot prove that sufficient physical violence or threat were used so that the victim was unable to resist, there are cases in which the assailant will not be found guilty.
The legal age of sexual consent is too young
If a victim is 13 years or older, there must be physical violence or a threat for the assault to be acknowledged as a violation of the law. There does not need to be physical violence or a threat only in cases of forced sex or obscenity by custodians such as parents.
It is very difficult to prove cases in which someone takes advantage of their superior status or there is an imbalance of power in the relationship
It is difficult to report and to be acknowledged when the assault is perpetrated by a person in a higher position than the victim.
Spring has been lobbying in order to solve these issues and revise the sex crime laws to create laws based on the realities of sexual abuse injuries and suffering.