It was a bit shocking to discover the age of consent in Japan is 13 to say the least. This is the youngest legal age a person (child) can legally have sex in the developed world. It threw up all kinds of images of older people exploiting incredibly young children, of sex tourism, of girls becoming pregnant far too young for their bodies and minds to cope, of boys falling victim to predatory adults.
As I dug a little deeper, I found I could breathe a sigh of relief. The law is more nuanced than the headlines suggest. Yes, technically a child can have sex at 13. However, most wards have local laws that protect children from predatory adults and raise the age to 16 or 18. Exceptions are made where there is parental consent to a committed relationship or both partners are young.
Japan’s attitude to sexualising children is the one part of the culture I find troubling. I can’t help but think raising the legal age of consent would start sending a clear message that children are entitled to a childhood free of the pressure and consequences of sex.
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