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Background to the Campaign

For the art project and exhibition proposal, the subject of sexual assault law and its upcoming change in Japanese civil law is an essential topic to remedy deep gender inequality that pervades not only culture but also legislation. The parliamentary meetings by the upper house (衆議院)of the National Diet will begin in January 2017.Coincidentally, the show we are drafting a proposal for will take place in February 2017. The current law has not been revised in approximately 100 years, so it is crucial that change is enacted now to prevent another century from passing before the issue brought to light again.


The current law was written when rape was considered wrong because it depreciated the value of a woman's honor, not wrong because the act was a violation of one’s rights. So it still remains a crime that can only be charged by civil action, placing immense burden and responsibility on the victim to bring the matter to justice. Unless the victim presses charges, the rapist cannot be prosecuted. Because of this, there are countless incidents where the rapist/defendant tries to strike a compromise with the victim to not press charges.


What is considered "rape" or "sexual assault" is limited by definition under the current law. First, it is more or less centered around whether there was vaginal penetration. Moreover, there needs to be sufficient evidence that the victim was making an obvious effort to resist. There have been cases where the aggressor or rapist was let go because the judge deemed that there wasn't enough evidence that the victim resisted the attack. This same mentality has sometimes applied to the coercion and rape of minors, and so the rapist is dismissed because the judge found insufficient evidence of the use of "force", though the victim was legally a minor. It also doesn't take into account the power dynamics of the victim and rapist. For example, a victim will feel more vulnerable and unable to exercise her right to resist if the attacker is someone related and/or in a position of authority.


The current civil law exists to protect the rapist and silence the victim.

So far, these three points have been brought up by politicians:

1) Extending the penalty of sexual crime from 3+ years to 5+ years.

2) Making laws and penal codes applicable to all sexualities (sexual minorities, women, men)

3) Making sex crime something that can be prosecuted without civil action by victim.

Even with these measures, we recognize that a drastic overhaul is necessary to properly prosecute rapists for their crimes. It is crucial that the public is informed and aware of the proposed changes to the severely outdated law.

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