Perverts Beware: Japan Photo Voyeurism Laws Overhaul Targets Sleazy Upskirters

Japan Photo Voyeurism Laws Overhaul Targets Upskirters
Female passengers in Tokyo queue for a "Women Only" carriage before the pandemic. Over the years many women have been groped by men and the taking of illicit photographs โ€“ upskirting โ€“is on the rise.

Japanese lawmakers are introducing the nation’s first Japan photo voyeurism laws, prohibiting the non-consensual capture and distribution of sexually exploitative photos or videos.

This move is part of a larger overhaul of Japan’s sex-crime laws, including the expansion of the definition of rape.

The Japan photo voyeurism laws legislation is expected to pass in June, and closely follows similar personal data privacy and voyeurism laws in other Asian countries, such as South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.

Thailand’s Personal Data Privacy Act also enforces strict penalties for photo voyeurism and manipulation. Similar to Japan’s proposed legislation, the PDPA protects individuals from having their personal information and images used or manipulated without consent.

Violators face severe consequences under the PDPA, including imprisonment and fines.

The proposed Japan photo voyeurism laws will explicitly criminalize the non-consensual taking, distribution, or possession of photographs of a person’s genitals or the manipulation of individuals into sexual positions without their knowledge.

The bill specifically bans the filming of children “in a sexual manner without justifiable reason.” Offenders could face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 3 million Japanese yen (744,000 baht).

This planned Japan photo voyeurism laws follow growing public demands for stronger laws against acts enabled by mobile phone photography. More than 5,000 arrests were made in Japan for clandestine photography in 2021, and about seven in 10 flight attendants in the country reported having their photos secretly taken.

Japan Photo Voyeurism Laws Not Only Ones in Asia

Comparable voyeurism laws exist in South Korea, where those convicted may face a fine of up to 10 million won (255,000 baht) or a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Singapore also enforces penalties for voyeurism, including up to two years in jail, fines, caning, or a combination of these punishments, with mandatory imprisonment for crimes involving victims under 14 years old.

The overhaul of Japan photo voyeurism laws and sex-crime statutes was prompted by several rape acquittals in 2019 that sparked national outrage.

Earlier this year, a Japanese Justice Ministry panel proposed raising the age of consent from 13 to 16, as well as extending the statute of limitations for reporting rape from 10 to 15 years.

The ministry is also looking to criminalize grooming of minors and expand the definition of rape.