Rape Crisis in Japan – Global Perspective Essay

This is was my faith, ethics, and political ideologies essay.

Rape is a major problem when it comes to the modern world. Around 321,500 cases of sexual assault happen every year in the United States for women aged 12 or older. (RAINN) Just recently a lady spoke about being sexually assaulted but not knowing the whole story. The lady named Shiori Ito was drinking one night until she was invited by a man named Noriyuki Yamaguchi for a drink. Ms Ito passed out and ended up in Mr Yamaguchi’s hotel room. In a subject such as rape, people will always walk the other direction because it is just ethically wrong. Because it is very controversial, people tend to keep quiet about the subject.


Being a woman passing out and ending up in a man’s hotel room when you wake up would be shocking as you wouldn’t know what is happening. Though there is no evidence of rape at all. The case was dropped after being investigated for 2 months. (Rich, 29th Dec 2017) To someone who was apparently raped such as Ms Ito, of course, has to speak up as to her rape is just wrong. Being the ethical absolutist she is, she speaks out about it as to her rape is looked down upon and there needs to be something said about it. (Ito, Jan 4th 2018) Because rape in Japan isn’t such a big deal in the highly populated country, the chances of someone being convicted of rape is fairly low. (Yamamoto, May 11th 2017) Ms Ito wanted to change that, being a journalist, she has the courage to speak for those who don’t have a voice and be heard. As of October 2017 #MeToo started to go viral were women who also have been sexually assaulted break from their silence which gave Ms Ito the courage to talk about her experience. (Rich, 29th Dec 2017) Due to Japan’s culture where women can’t speak out about rape so easily also influenced Ms Ito to make a change (Ma, 19 May 2014). It also violates the Universal Declaration of Human rights: Article 19, Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Article 12, No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his/her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. (United Nations) Now in Japan, people are starting to recognise her and thank her for speaking out. People, not just women, finally have a voice against sexual assault and feel empowered to make a change. The Japanese government is also starting to rethink their laws on sexual misconduct and many more. (Ito, Jan 4th 2018)


Because rape is a very controversial topic in Japan, the government doesn’t want anything to do with it. Something stopping the Japanese government from taking action against sexual harassment offenders is the Japanese culture and what it restricts women to speak up as it is looked down upon, showing disrespect to the men in Japan who are the majority. (Yamasaki, 8th Nov 2017)  An article in Japantimes quotes “Only 18 percent of sexual assault victims in Japan report the crime to the police, according to the Justice Ministry (some believe the figure is even smaller), and that over half of the reported rape cases are not prosecuted.” (Yamasaki, Nov 8 2017) Something stopping the Japanese government from taking action against sexual harassment offenders is the Japanese culture and what it restricts women to do. In the case, Mr Yamaguchi has close ties with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, which might have helped Mr Yamaguchi a bit. (Ito, Jan 4th 2018) Due to the Japanese culture and society where women are exposed to sexism and harassment; the government doesn’t want to change it. The law has been the same for the past 110 years and there is nothing being done about it. (Ito, Jan 4th 2018) Just recently, the year of 2017, they increased the minimum prison sentence from 3 to 5 years. Which is small progress but it is a start.

Personally, I am an ethical absolutist when it comes to the topic of rape. I feel as if rape is wrong because you are sexually harassing a woman/man and forcing her to do sexual acts with you, without his/her permission. I believe that all people are equal and shouldn’t be exploited because of their gender, nationality, sexuality or anything else. At the same time rape violates one of the human rights, Article 12, No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his/her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. The fact that Mr. Yamaguchi violated Ms Ito’s privacy, in this case, a woman who is a minority, is wrong. Mr. Yamaguchi was exploiting her unconscious body for sexual purposes. Invading her privacy for his own satisfaction.


An article made by Monica Kotwani, a journalist based in Singapore in who writes for channel news Asia wrote an article about the Singaporean community speaking out against sexual assault. A big issue in Singapore according to channel news Asia is marital rape where women are getting raped by their husbands. In 1999 A man raped his wife who was filing a divorce against him, was accused of abuse and only fined $4,000. (Kotwani, 21st Oct 2017) But just recently in 2015 the Singapore government are reviewing their laws against martial law and changing it up a bit. (Zhu, 24th April 2017) Since the #MeToo started to go viral with women who feel ashamed about the subject of rape.  Because everyone is talking about the topic of rape in the #MeToo trend, people feel as if it is safe to talk about it without any judgment. At the same time, men who are shocked about their family and friends who were raped are starting to make a statement about the role of being a man and what it actually means. A quote from an article from ChannelNewsAsia about women feeling empowered to talk about their experiences about sexual assault quotes “But ‘we’ (as men) can cause harm even without knowingly causing it. How we treat relationships, how we joke about women, how we were educated to think about roles of our gender.” (Kotwani, 21st Oct 2017) This states that this issue isn’t just concerning women who are being assaulted but also men. Men need to rethink their roles in society and be educated about what’s happening with the male gender in the real world. They have got to teach men’s roles in society. (Kotwani, 21st Oct 2017)


In conclusion, I think that those who have been sexually assaulted need to speak out. There is no shame to justice and everyone has the right to the law. An example of somehow whose words have been heard is Ms Ito. Though she spoke out 2 years later, she still got her point across to the public and raising awareness in Japan. Eventually being one of the top stories and having many stories from different news outlets about her. Because of her actions, the Japanese government is starting to make a change in their laws about sexual misconduct. While Mr Yamaguchi got the case dropped in December of 2017. This case and the trend of #MeToo raised awareness for those who have experienced sexual assault and empowering those to speak up.




Ito, Shiori. “Saying #MeToo in Japan.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 4 Jan. 2018, www.politico.eu/article/metoo-sexual-assault-women-rights-japan/.


Kotwani, Monica. “Sexual Assault Victims in Singapore Feel Empowered to Speak up, as #MeToo Goes Viral.” Channel NewsAsia, 21 Oct. 2017, www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/sexual-assault-victims-in-singapore-feel-empowered-to-speak-up-9328274.


Ma, Karen. “Why Are the Rape Statistics for Japan so Low?” Www.quora.com, 19 May 2014, www.quora.com/Why-are-the-rape-statistics-for-Japan-so-low.


RAINN. “Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics.” RAINN, RAINN, www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence.


Rich, Motoko. “She Broke Japan’s Silence on Rape.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/world/asia/japan-rape.html.


“Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations, United Nations, 10 Dec. 1948, www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/.


Yamamoto, Jake Adelstein Mari. “Does Japan Ever Convict Men for Rape?” The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 11 May 2017, www.thedailybeast.com/does-japan-ever-convict-men-for-rape.


Yamasaki, Alisa. “In Japan, We Too Need to Talk about Sexual Misconduct.” The Japan Times, Japan Times, 8 Nov. 2017, www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/11/08/voices/japan-need-talk-sexual-misconduct/#.Wl8tIZP1XdQ.


Zhu, Melissa. “Behind Closed Doors: Rape and Marriage in Singapore.” Channel NewsAsia, 24 Apr. 2017, www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/behind-closed-doors-rape-and-marriage-in-singapore-7931028.


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