I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Japan to the, er, 19th Century. As reported by the Mainichi Daily News,

...the Justice Ministry has called for criminalization of gang rape for the first time in Japan.

One interesting thing about this law is that it seems to have influenced by a recent case in which a student entertainment club organised evenings consisting of partying, drinking, getting women drunk and luring them away to be raped once they were insensible:

The Super Free group was a student society at the prestigious Tokyo university that organized monthly private parties at top nightclubs.

The parties were followed by heavy drinking sessions at Japanese-style pubs, where members of the group picked up their victims.

“We lured drunk women back to Wada’s home and gang raped them,” a former Super Free member told Mainichi on condition of anonymity. “When they (rape victims) stirred up trouble we settled these problems financially.”

Hot on the heels of their 1999 law finally prohibiting child prostitution and pornography, it’s good to see politicians addressing some of the darker sides of Japanese society.

Another article also brings up an illuminating comparison:

Up till now the criminal punishment for rape has been a prison sentence of “no less than two years.” This is lighter than for robbery, which carries a prison sentence of “no less than five years.” The difference has been criticized by Diet members who say it is strange for “things to be given precedence over the sexual freedom of women.”

Rape is a very popular theme in Japanese pornography. Gropers on trains are such a pernicious problem that women-only carriages have recently been instated on many lines. I think that there is a disturbing underlying trend in how women are perceived in Japan. I also think that it is one of the reasons why, despite all the technical indicators, the country is socially still far from being truly modern. Still, I’m very happy to see some visible progress being made.