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Japan law revision eyed to keep sex crime victims' names from offenders

Justice Minister Masako Mori is seen in this file photo taken on May 14, 2020. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- In a bid to protect victims of sex crimes and stalking from offenders, the Justice Ministry is considering ensuring that their names will be omitted from arrest warrants and indictments through a law revision, minister Masako Mori said Friday.

    Police and prosecutors are required under the Code of Criminal Procedure to detail the outlines of alleged crimes in such documents, and they generally include the victims' names.

    But the practice is one of the reasons sex crimes and stalking are underreported, the ministry said.

    In 2012, a woman was murdered by a stalker in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, after the man came to know her married name and address when police read out an arrest warrant after he allegedly threatened in 2011.

    Since then, police and prosecutors have tried not to identify sexual crime victims in their documents. However, they sometimes face an order from a judge to clarify the facts including the name of the victim in order to prevent false charges.

    While such disclosure of the victim's name is not legally required, the likelihood of their name being exposed to offenders during criminal procedures is often why victims hesitate to report their cases to police for fear of retaliation.

    The envisaged law revision is designed to clarify the cases in which victims' names should be withheld, according to the ministry.

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