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Cabinet decision declares there is no such thing as 'criminal sexual harassment'

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Minister of Finance Taro Aso appear at a Cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office on May 18, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Cabinet issued a decision on May 18 declaring that "under the current legal system, 'criminal sexual harassment' does not exist."

The decision states that under the Rules of the National Personnel Authority, sexual harassment is defined as "sexual comments or actions inside and outside the workplace that cause other people discomfort," and that "no legal criminal punishment exists dictating penalization of this kind of behavior."

The statement was issued in response to a question by Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) House of Representatives lawmaker Seiji Osaka. Minister of Finance Taro Aso has come under fire for repeatedly stating that "there is no such thing as criminal sexual harassment" following the scandal surrounding now former top Finance Ministry bureaucrat Junichi Fukuda's alleged sexual harassment of a female TV Asahi reporter.

Additionally, in response to Osaka's inquiry over whether there are circumstances under which sexual harassment could be treated as a criminal act, such as forcible indecency, the Cabinet replied, "In such cases, forcible indecency and other crimes (defined in the Penal Code, other laws or local ordinances) are applied, and therefore it is not 'criminal sexual harassment.'"

(Japanese original by Takenori Noguchi, Political News Department)

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