Why Japanese Teens Can Get Arrested for Dating

Japanese Teen Dating

Raise your hand if you’ve heard online that the age of sexual consent in Japan is 13 years-old. Wow! That is the youngest age of consent among developed countries. Except, for Japanese teens you know…that’s not true.

The internet has been pushing some crazy misinterpretations of Japan’s “loose” youth and consent laws, which are completely untrue since even Japanese teens get arrested for dating each other.

Japan has a tri-layer set of laws in regards to obscenity, which holds lots of twists and turns that end with unclear laws that require parental approval and a much higher age of consent than the internet likes to believe.

Let’s go over the facts!

The Laws Of Japan

1. The Penal Code of Japan – Passed in 1907, the law defines statutory rape as having willful sex with anyone below the age of 13. Most people on the internet misunderstand this law as any 13 and older is fair game.

2. Juvenile Obscene Acts – Every prefecture and municipality have laws in place protecting minors from “unethical relationships” and sexual activity with adults. Depending on the prefecture, it’s illegal to have a sexual relationship with a minor below the age of 16 to 18.

Juvenile Obscene Acts override the Penal Code of Japan. Keep in mind that the age of adulthood in Japan is 20 years of age. This will be important later.

A popular example is Tokyo’s “Youth Protection Law,” which prohibits adults from having sex with minors below the age of 17. Does this mean Japan’s age of consent is more in line with the rest of world? Not exactly…

3. Civil Codes – These are another set of prefectural and municipality laws. They state that civil agreements are legal only between two parties that are at least 20 years-old. This means anyone 20 and older must seek parental consent before entering a relationship or marriage with someone that is at least 19 years-old.

This law throws another wrinkle in Japan’s age of consent. What people fail to understand is that is youths between the ages of 16 to 18 (depending on the prefecture) can have sexual relationships with each other.

However, anyone that is 20 looking to be in a relationship with someone between 16 to 19 (lowest age depending on the prefecture) must have parental consent.

Do you know what this means? Depending on the prefecture and how strict civil codes and juvenile obscene acts are enforced, Japan’s de facto age of consent is between 18 to 20 years-old. That is the highest age of consent in the developed world!

Legal Age of Consent in Japan (Interpretation for Japanese Teens)

Japanese Teens

Let’s say your only knowledge of Japan’s age of consent is the misinformation that the age of consent is 13. You would be charged with a felony and could face up to 20 years of forced labor.

Let’s say you slip up and had a steamy night with some between the age of 16 to 19. Depending on the prefecture, you would be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to 5 years of forced labor.

Now, the actual interpretation of the law is very vague and can land foreigners (especially exchange students) in big trouble. Keep in mind, if you are at least 20 and enter a relationship with some 19 and under, you will face misdemeanor charges.

But let’s say you are an 18-year-old college student in a study-abroad program. The legal ramifications of entering a relationship are fairly murky without parental consent.

Laugh now, but there are Japanese schools that forbid physical contact.

Juvenile Obscene Acts are notorious for being vague in what is considered “obscene” and this can vary on a case-by-case basis. Some places consider sexual penetration obscene, while others consider staying in the same hotel room as obscene. If you are 18, and the Juvenile Obscene Acts protects anyone under the age of 17, you could face a misdemeanor charge for corruption of a minor.

Despite what your favorite harem anime or horror manga depicts, relationships for anyone under the age of 20 holds a lot of baggage. Depending on the prefecture, it’s completely legal to arrest a 17-year-old for dating their 16-year-old classmate.

While charges could be dropped, the social stigma will always be there for the person who was arrested. Because of this, some schools forbid their students from having relationships, even if they are protected by the juvenile obscene acts.

Why is Japan So Draconian?

Japan has had obscenity acts in place since the ’60s, but the harsh punishments and vague interpretations did not occur until the ’90s.

Up until that time, Japan was a popular destination for sex trafficking and child sex “tourists.” To combat this, local governments strengthened their laws and adopted draconian punishments for anyone involved in relationships with minors in an effort to combat sex trafficking of minors.

Another reason was former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara. He wanted to bid on the Tokyo Olympics, and other nationalistic politicians wanted to clean up Japan’s international image as being a “safe haven for pedos.”

While laws were in place to prevent adults from having relationships with minors, Ishihara’s goal was to lower the image of Japan’s “sexually deviant youths.” This is why Japan is one of the few countries that doesn’t have a close age exemption, which would forgive a japanese teens 17-year-old for dating a 16-year-old.

And, that’s pretty much it for japanese teens. Still think Japan’s age of consent is 13?

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3 Responses

  1. what is if a 16 year old dates a 16 year old? is that legal unlike if a 17 year old dates a 16 year old?
    and 13 year old with 13 year old is allowed or what? or anything below 16, with 13, so 15 and 13 is fine??? this is so weird

  2. >A popular example is Tokyo’s “Youth Protection Law,” which prohibits adults from having s*x with minors below the age of 17.

    Tokyo’s “Youth Protection Law” prohibits ANYONE from 淫行 (FORCING to provide s*x or s*xual content) with minors below the age of 17. The Supreme Court clearly says 淫行 doesn’t mean just to have s*x.

    >They state that civil agreements are legal only between two parties that are at least 20 years-old. This means anyone 20 and older must seek parental consent before entering a relationship or marriage with someone that is at least 19 years-old.

    This means ANYONE (including those younger than 20) must seek parental consent before MARRIAGE with someone that is at least 19-year-old.

    >However, anyone that is 20 looking to be in a relationship with someone between 16 to 19 (lowest age depending on the prefecture) must have parental consent.

    They don’t need to. (But if they want to marry, they need parental consent.)

    >Let’s say you slip up and had a steamy night with some between the age of 16 to 19. Depending on the prefecture, you would be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to 5 years of forced labor.

    They wouldn’t. (But if they FORCE to do that, it’s illegal of course.)

    >Keep in mind, if you are at least 20 and enter a relationship with some 19 and under, you will face misdemeanor charges.

    You won’t.

    >But let’s say you are an 18-year-old college student in a study-abroad program. The legal ramifications of entering a relationship are fairly murky without parental consent.

    They aren’t.

    >Depending on the prefecture, it’s completely legal to arrest a 17-year-old for dating their 16-year-old classmate.

    “To arrest a 17-year-old for dating their 16-year-old classmate” is unconstitutional.

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