Sexual Violence Against Women In Japan

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is something that has occured throughout the world and throughout history. It stems from the idea that women are always treated as objects and exploited to serve men. Sexual violence against women is used as a wartime weapon and women are used as part of “spoils of war”. The traditional history ascertained that the women were under sex trafficking to serve the US military in Asia that led to the creation of many local sex industries. During World War II, approximately 200,000 Asian women were enslaved to provide sex for their troops and because of this, these women were victims of multiple men who would brutally rape them every day. Later, the US occupation authorities approved this act and setup a network of brothels under the “Recreation and Amusement Association”. Surprisingly enough, Japan is actually one of the countries where sexual assault law is deemed inappropriate. Sexuality in Japan is gender-biased perceiving females as just passive recipients or more bluntly, tools of male desires. Even the legal system related to rape and sexual assault display gender bias. Much of the available pornography in Japan, rape-themed videos depicts violence against females. The existence of violent pornography and “mizu shobai” rob the women from sexual autonomy and cast them as sexually subservient to men. They are seen just as decorative articles and passive sex commodities. Human trafficking of domestic and sex workers still continues to exploit women as commodities. This is backed by reports every year of about 30,000 Asian women trafficked into USA.

Some studies have shown that that if the person committing the act of rape perceives higher levels of enjoyment then the victim is blamed more. This made Japanese men think that they have active and aggressive sexuality that make females passive towards sex. According to Nosaka, 2004, rape myths are deeply entrenched in the ideas Japanese people have about sexual assault. Some think that rape is a sexual act caused when a woman provokes a man into losing control of his powerful innate sexuality. Such so-called provocation can consist of things like walking alone at night, wearing revealing clothing, or being promiscuous. According to studies by Arnon, 2004, rape victims do not complain against rape fearing prejudice and gender bias in the system. This gender-biased image of rape which society has created is a story of a tsujo rape based on rape myths which do not take into consideration the experience of the women when they were forced into these sexual relations, these incidents of rape.


Japan's battle against paedophilia is well documented. An example of this is the fact that in Japan, middle-aged men enjoy hanging-out with underaged school girls. Some even pay money to hold hands, have a cup of coffee, and even going for a walks with them. All this happens in the famous street known as “JK alley” or “schoolgirl alley”. JK implies Joshi Kosei meaning high school girl. Surprisingly, all this completely within the law, this soft form of paedophillia as is legal. There are almost 300 JK cafes where men show interest in spending time with these underage girls that mostly under the age of 18 and approximately 5000 schoolgirls work in these cafes legally to earn their pocket money. Up until the year 2014, child pornography was legal to own in Japan. However, in the later years, the law strived to control pornography of children but the sexualization of minors still remains an issue. In between 2015 and 2016, about 37 cases were sent to public prosecution. These cases were cases associated with owning child pornography. There is also Quasi-pornographic “Chaku Ero” or clothed eroticism. This is a type photography where young kids as small as 6 years old to high school girls are shot in erotical clothing. It is a kind of soft porn where, if the child's genitals, buttocks and chest are not exposed is not officially categorized as child pornography. As per Japanese law, the child needs to be investigated in order to confirm her as victim. Because of the amount of time that this practice has been going on many Japanese think that sexually objectifying young girls is not taboo. They simply believe that it just falls into some sort of grey zone.

Sexual relationships and Extramarital affairs

When compared to western views and standards, Japan has a high number of sexless couples but it also has the biggest sex industry in the world. Usually, in Japan, once a woman bears birth to her child she is no longer desired by her husband and he insteads seeks sexual solace from other women. They prefer extramarital affairs and no longer treat their wife as an active sexual partner. For comparison on sexual relationships and extramarital affairs between western culture and Japanese culture, in western culture couples seek divorce because having affairs while married is considered taboo but Japanese still stay married and have extramarital affairs. This culture of middle-aged men having sex with prostitutes and seeking romance with outside girls is accepted at home. As per Durex global sex survey, Japanese seem to be the national group having the sex least often coming in at (37%) compared to other countries of the world like China (78%, 70% to 87% in southern Europe and 55% to 80% in northern Europe). There is another concept of “Enjo Kosai” or compensated dating in Japan where the older men fulfill the desires of young women while the girl provides him companionship and sexual pleasure. This sounds almost like a prostitution but cannot be categorized under prostitution as per Japanese culture because it has its deeper routes through ages. It is mostly the rigidity in their marital life makes the husbands of Japanese culture want to move onto extramarital affairs. The demographic that these men typically look for mostly consists of students, working women and sometimes housewives who want to complement their income with expensive gifts from the older men.


The sexualization of young girls and women is not only a prime concern in Japan, as it exists in every part of the country throughout the world. Today’s entertainment for youth, mostly in the form of TV shows, music albums, magazines, internet, markets and advertisements projects girls and women in a sexualized manner. Magazines, advertisements and movies objectifies girls and women so heavily and consistently that young audiences do not realize the unrealistic nature of what they are seeing in the media they view in regards to sexuality. In fact, the media plays a major role in providing sexual information to the youth that heavily impacts their sexual appearance, sexual behavior and sexual health. Lolicon (the Japanese term for manga and anime) involves violence, rape and incest of children at its extreme, and children in Japan grow up seeing these characters from their childhood and this impacts heavily on their sexual behaviour. The hypersexualized characters also undermines the girl’s confidence in their own body making them feel ashamed and anxious. The young age group constantly thrive to improve their sex appeal and those who cannot meet these standards are prone to mental health problems leading to low self-esteem, and depression. 

16 August 2021
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