Domestic and Sexual Violence
In Japan, victims of sexual crimes are especially prone to “nakine-iri suru” (泣き寝入りする, giving up in frustration, being compelled to accept a situation), bear it in silence, and not report what happened to the police. Before they set out to catch and punish their attacker, they think of whether strangers as well as acquaintances will find out about it, whether they themselves will be blamed, and whether their attacker will take revenge on them.
Common psychological consequences of sexual assault are flashbacks, avoidance, emotional numbness, lethargy, lack of self-confidence, feelings of self-blame, feeling that it could have been avoided if if if … anxiety, fear, terror, lack of trust, physical unwellness.
For sexual harassment: A fine of up to 10,000 yen for first-time offenders, up to 30,000 yen or half a year imprisonment for repeat offenders (Ehime Prefecture Ordinance).
For assault: 6 months to 7 years of imprisonment with labor.
For rape: Minimum 2 years of imprisonment with labor. (The time to be served must be defined)
Police procedure in Japanese investigations begins as soon as the assault is reported. If the victim has sustained injuries and has not yet seen a doctor, a female police officer will accompany them to a doctor for a medical examination. The police in Ehime Prefecture are currently placing female police officers at all the main police stations in the prefecture, and has a system that calls female officers to any station that is handling a case of sexual assault. The doctor for the medical examination is connected with the police, so the victim will have full confidentiality. The police will then ask about the assailant and the circumstances of the assault. Though this may be quite unbearable for the victim to have to explain, it is necessary in catching the attacker.
When the victim reports damages due to a crime, the report is called “higai no todoke” (被害の届け). Since the privacy of the victim is involved in sexual crimes, the police take the position of letting the victim decide whether or not to take the assailant to court. Taking someone to court is called ‘bringing charges’, “kokuso”(告訴). The police will begin the investigation as soon as they receive the report of a sexual crime, but when the assailant is found, they cannot be punished unless the victim presses charges.
It is not uncommon for the victim to need some time between reporting damages due to a crime and deciding whether to press charges because of the psychological stress the experience produced. Furthermore, in cases where the assailant is known to the victim, the victim often reports damages due to a crime but does not immediately file suit. For these reasons, there is no time limit on the filing of a suit. The police will go to the scene of the crime, etc and gather evidence. The victim is asked to be present in order to explain the events. The victim is asked to submit the clothes and things they had with them when they were attacked as evidence.
The police have plans to strengthen patrolling in the evenings to prevent sexual crimes, to strengthen cooperation with volunteer organisations (Ehime is currently starting up a victim support center), and to build a homepage. A consultation hotline has been set up (0120-31-91100) and officers are available to hold speeches about how to prevent sexual crimes.
Some embassies/consulates can provide a safe haven and/or escort the victim of sexual violence to the police. You should call your embassy/consulate directly to see if they can help. Remember to bring your passport with you if you go there.
Counselling service is available on Wednesdays 6 to 9 p.m. Saturdays 3 to 6 p.m. (Currently available in Japanese only.) There are about 15 members on staff, and telephone counselling service is available twice a week. All staff members are women who volunteered. To become a staff member one must receive 6 months training which raises consciousness about rape and cultivates consideration toward rape victims.
Rape Emergency Intervention Counseling Okinawa (REICO)
HELP (Housing in Emergency of Love and Peace) Asian Women's Shelter
Tel: 03 3368 8855
Fax: 03 3368 9791
English, Tagalog, and Thai speakers are available; telephone counselling service is available from Monday to Saturday, 9:30am to 5:30pm. HELP Asian Women's Shelter in Tokyo, provides emergency housing relief and support to approximately two hundred recipients annually. As well as providing food and shelter, HELP is also able to aid its residents with legal, medical and nationality problems. The address is as follows: Hyakunin-cho 2-23-5, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
TEL: 03-5774-0992 (daily 09:00 to 23:00)
Call the Life Line for free, anonymous, and confidential telephone counselling. Trained volunteers can offer counselling and support, as well as information on a broad range of English-speaking services in Japan.
Formerly known as The Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Pathways to Safety works with abused American women and children in foreign countries to provide domestic violence and child abuse advocacy resources and tools so that they can navigate the complicated jurisdictional, legal and social international landscapes to be able to live their lives free of abuse either in the foreign country or back in the United States.