Shinkokuzai: How a rapist becomes free of charge
by Mila NY on January 27, 2017 - 10:40am
Shinkokuzai: How a rapist becomes free of charge
The dubious cost of sexual assault in Japan
By Jake Adelstein
Published on November 5th, 2016 on TheJapanTimes
The article was published on TheJapanTimes which contains the latest news from Japan. This news outlet has been publishing Japanese news in English since 1897, and has remained Japan’s only independent English-language newspaper. This article is reliable as it contains many facts about the event and about Japan’s criminal justice system.
Japan is known as the country of the rising sun, and its reason is obvious: its economy is continuously thriving as one of the most developed in the international pedestal. However, its social conditions are still in need of improvement. Many of its issues are still hidden behind the doors and are not brought into light, consequently causing major social problems to be continuously unresolved. One of them being cases on sexual assault. In America, when a woman has been victim of any assault, the offender will be convicted; however, not necessarily put behind the bars for a period of time considered satisfactory, according to the public. It is a reality that women are still victims of oppression in anywhere part of the world, but Japanese women suffer another case of injustice. In Japan, male offenders who commit rape are unlikely to be convicted, and consequently, not brought to prison. Even if proven guilty, many offenders are able to apologise or buy their way out.
For instance, in August 2016, Yuta Takahata, a 22-year-old actor, admitted to raping a hotel worker when staying a night at the hotel. He called the woman in his room at 2 a.m, asking for a toothbrush, then raped her. Even though he admitted to be guilty, he was released from bail after the prosecutors dropped the charges over his offence. It is publicly believed that the incident was ended by a settlement between Takahata and the victim herself. The settlement depicted that the victim wished not for the assailant to face criminal charges. Thus, for the case to be brought to court became unnecessary. An interesting fact of Japanese society submerges from this case; that is, rape can only be prosecuted if the victim has filed a complaint. Yet, most often, female victims of sexual assault do not write a complaint, and consequently, the case is immediately forgotten. According to Kazuko Tanaka, a female prosecutor, as little as 4 percent of these victims end up filing a complaint with the police. Therefore, only 18.5 percent of sexual offences have been reported to the police over the past 5 years.
Another sexual assault case revolves around Kensuke Matsumi, a University student who, along with his friends, assaulted a girl. Contrary to Yuta Takahata’s case, his victim rejected the idea of a settlement, and the incident was immediately brought over to court. However, Matsumi only received a punishment of two years in prison, and a suspension for four years. The reason behind his small sentence was due to his show of remorse. The Justice Ministry advisory panel asked for a revision in the sex crime legislation, so to change the law that offenders can only be prosecuted after the victim has filed a complaint. Furthermore, it wants to raise rape convictions from three years to five years in jail. Lastly, it asks that the police also acknowledges the fact that there are also male victims of rape.
When we look at how the prosecutors deal with sexual offences, we see that the Japanese criminal justice system is flawed in this aspect. Moreover, the Japanese government who wants to empower women needs to take serious action to modify the sex crime legislation. How the criminal justice system deals with these female victims and what the government does in regards to this, are significant because they determine women’s value in overall society. When the criminal justice system does little about its victims, and frees the male offender despite being proven guilty, it directly contributes to the oppression of women, as well as their devaluation. It is the same in America, with Turner, a man who raped an unconscious woman and was freed after only spending three months in jail. The lack of compensation to the victim, and the lack of conviction to rapists only serve to demonstrate how women are still unequally treated, and forgotten as citizens who have a right to deserve justice. Another important thing to point out is the fear of stigma. Women who have been raped are often stigmatized, and for this reason, they fear to file a complaint with the police. This is another social problem that rises within any given society. Often, women are told that they are at fault if they are sexually assaulted, but that is far from truth. Society needs to take action and encourage women to speak out. For only then can there be collective change.
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