Why Is the Age of Consent in Japan Only 13-Year-Old?

It’s the third-lowest in the world. What’s going on here?

Isaiah McCall
5 min readFeb 26, 2021


Photo by Bohdan Maylove on Unsplash

II was on Google Trends the other day seeing what was going on in the world and stumbled upon something weird happening in Japan. “The age of consent” was trending.

Many red flags went up in my head.

I wanted to find out why, but the answers weren’t easy to digest. The first article I read was a 2020 petition calling for Japan to raise the age of consent. More than 50,000 people signed it calling for Japan’s legal age of consent to be raised from 13 to 16.

It reads:

‘The age of consent in Japan is 13 years old. The age of consent refers to the minimum age at which a person is considered to be capable of giving consent to sexual acts.’

‘Do you think a 13 year old teenager is capable of knowing the consequences of sexual activities and saying yes or no?’

The petition continues: ‘Japan has been getting warnings to raise the age from international society as it is very low compared to other countries, however, the age that was enacted over 100 years ago still remains the same.’

‘We demand the Ministry of Justice to raise age of consent. Please help us with the petition to protect teenage adolescence.’

What’s going on and how is this accepted?

In 1907, the Penal Code of Japan set a minimum age of consent of 13. Since then, Japan’s age of consent has not changed. In fact, it’s the third-lowest in the world.

The age of consent in the Philippines used to be 12, but following widespread outcry, a proposal was passed last year to raise the age of consent to 16.

Now, after I received a quick 101 in Japanese law, it’s more obvious that Japan’s age of consent is left intentionally ambiguous. Under the Juvenile Obscene Acts, passed in 1947, no one over the age of 14 can have sex with 13–14 year-olds. The minimum sentence for sex with any female under the age of 13 is five-years.

However, 13 and 14-year olds are permitted to give consent to each other. In short, the age of consent is so confusing in Japan that even this…



Isaiah McCall