The Legal Council hopes to raise the minimum prison term from three to five years

The Japanese government plans to amend the Penal Code in order to impose heavier penalties for rape.

Japan Times calls the proposed amendment “is reasonable in view of the crime’s heinous nature and the psychological burden that the provision places on the victim”.

Currently, a worst case scenario would result in no criminal action being taken against the suspect.

The amendment will be submitted to the Japan’s National Diet (the country’s bicameral legislature) later this year, based on recommendations compiled by the Legislative Council in September.

The Penal Code was last revised in 2004, raising the minimum prison term for rape to three years instead of two years. Now, the council is calling for a raised minimum sentence of five years whilst maintaining the current maximum of 20 years.

If given the green light, the amendment will ensure that a person convicted of rape will spend time behind bars instead of being given a suspended sentence as the court can only suspend a prison sentence if the crime in question merits a prison term of up to three years.

The proposed legislation will also abolish the provision that rape is only indictable if a complaint is filed by the victim. Abolishing this provision will in turn abolish the fear of damaging one’s honour that has previously prevented victims from reporting the crime. Some victims also feared that their offender would retaliate if a report was filed against them.

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the U.N. Human Rights Committee have been calling on Japan to drop the provision. South Korea dropped the provision in 203.

The definition of rape will also be expanded under the new legislation too. Currently, the rape offender is assumed to be male and the victim female. Instead, the legislation will also regard rape as forceful penetration of parts of the body other than the vagina, allowing for rape cases involving female offenders and male victims.

Under the new legislation, adults will also be punished if they engage in sexual activities with children aged younger than 18.

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