Japanese lawmakers will be introducing a bill against upskirting and taking sexually exploitative images or videos of others without consent.
The bill banning “photo voyeurism” was submitted in the Japanese Diet, the national legislature of the country, to prevent individuals from taking surreptitious photographs in a sexually exploitative nature.
The bill, which is set to be the country’s first law against taking sexually explicit photos and videos, is part of Japan’s sex crimes overhaul, which also expands the definition of rape. It is expected to be passed in June.
The new bill will also prohibit the distribution and possession of photographs of someone’s genitals without their consent and will criminalize taking photos of people being manipulated into sexual positions without their knowledge.
Many child models in the country are portrayed in sexually provocative ways. Photographs of athletes in sporting attire also tend to be used for malicious purposes, according to the BBC.
When the bill passes, offenders may face up to three years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 3 million yen (approximately $22,000).
Japan’s move to strengthen legislation against sex crimes comes amid growing public outcry over lewd mobile phone photography of women.
In 2021, there were more than 5,000 arrests for clandestine photography, according to police statistics. These criminal cases had to be prosecuted under local prefectural laws, which reportedly vary in scope.
In March, three men made headlines for taking lewd photos with female character statues at the Studio Ghibli theme park. The photos, which went viral on Twitter, elicited disgust and anger from social media users and officials.
Last month, the Japanese government told schools not to penalize students for being late to class if they were filing a police report regarding a sexual assault they experienced during their commute to school.
The request was part of the government’s anti-groping campaign aimed to eliminate “chikan” (public molestation) on Tokyo trains during the country’s school and college entrance exam season.
Japan currently has the lowest age of consent among developed countries and in the G7 group. However, the Justice Ministry has proposed legislation raising the age of consent from 13 to 16 — a law that could pass as early as summer.
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