Serial Rapist in Japan Admits Plot to Evade Adult Trial

“I wanted to rape a lot of women while I’d still be considered a minor,” the man said.
Japanese man rapes girls before he enters adulthood, evading adult trial
Japanese man admits to raping girls as a minor to avoid adult trial. Photo: Philip FONG / AFP

A 20-year-old man received juvenile sentences on Monday for raping and attempting to rape four teenage girls, in a case that has reignited debate over the age of criminal liability in Japan.

The man had told a court in the Shiga Prefecture that he “wanted to rape a lot of women while I’d still be considered a minor.” And that’s what he did.

The man was found guilty of rape and attempted rape involving four girls aged between 15 and 16. He asked the victims to help fix his bicycle before luring them down a quiet street, the Ōtsu District Court of Nagahama City was told.


He was under 20 years of age at the time of the crimes and was tried as a minor under Japan’s Juvenile Law. The court sentenced him to five-and-a-half years in prison, which is just a few months more than the minimum sentence of five years for adult offenders of rape in the country. The Juvenile Law also prohibits anyone from disclosing the rapist’s name. 

The case has reignited debate over the minimum age to try someone as an adult in Japan. Under the Japanese Juvenile Law, most 18- and 19-year-olds are tried as minors unless a judge deems the crime too severe, such as murder. No such exception was made for the serial rapist.

The disturbing case comes as Japan has decided to lower the national age of adulthood from 20 to 18 in April 2022, but without changing the age of criminal responsibility.

“His sentence is too light,” psychologist Kumi Hashimoto told VICE World News, saying that his actions were “the work of the devil, taking advantage of these high school girls’ good intentions in this way to rape them.”

Even before the rape, some lawmakers had criticized Japan’s Juvenile Law as too lenient for 18- and 19-year-old offenders, although there’s yet to be consensus on an amendment.

The current law conceals the names and faces of offenders in an effort to protect their privacy. Most cases are tried in a family court, where a judge examines the defendant's family background and details of the crime. Only cases where the offenders are found to have intentionally committed crimes that killed someone are sent to a higher court.


Tomohiro Akaki, a 35-year-old hospitality worker, said that lenient sentencing could not be justified for the rapist who intentionally took advantage of the Juvenile Law. 

“I don’t follow the logic of criminals who say ‘I’ll commit crimes while I’m protected under the Juvenile Law.’ Victims don’t care whether their perpetrators were 15 or 75.” 

Kiyoshi Udo, a businesswoman in her 30s, called the crime “horrific.”

“He sounds like an absolute pervert. At this point, there’s no other explanation for his crime,” she told VICE World News, lamenting his light sentence.

Asao Naito, an associate professor of sociology from Meiji University, said opposition to Japan’s Juvenile Law has long existed. “Whenever a particularly brutal crime is reported, it adds to the growing public opinion of lowering adult age,” he said.

Legislation to lower Japan’s age of adulthood was first passed in 2015 by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who changed the eligible voting age from 20 to 18 in what some observers said was a bid to tap the support of young people between 18 and 20.

Following revisions to voter eligibility, the governing party successfully called for lowering the national age of adulthood to revitalize the economy by allowing more people to take loans or get married at a younger age. The change is set to take effect from April next year.

But discussions about lowering the age of criminal responsibility have gone nowhere. 

Opponents have argued that minors should be allowed a chance for reform.“Even if an extremely cruel crime is committed,” Naito said, “if the defendant is a minor, then supporters argue the sentence should be lighter.”

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