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Japanese lawmaker apologizes for comment about consensual sex between adult and 14-yr-old

Hiranao Honda of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- An opposition lawmaker has apologized for a comment in which he said words to the effect that it is "absurd if a 50-year-old and a 14-year-old consented to have sex and (the 50-year-old) gets arrested" during his party's working team meeting on revisions to sex crime laws.

    House of Representatives member Hiranao Honda, who belongs to the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), released an apology on the night of June 7 saying that his comment during the meeting was inappropriate and that he hoped to retract what he had said. "I sincerely apologize," the lawmaker wrote.

    According to several sources close to the party, Honda made the remark in question during a May 10 meeting. In response, CDP Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama said on June 7 that following an internal probe and fact-checking of Honda's comment, the party has given him a severe verbal warning.

    As for the reason Honda made such a remark, the lawmaker explained, "I thought careful consideration was necessary when discussing criminal punishments, including taking unique cases into consideration as exceptions. However, my comment was inappropriate even for an exceptional case."

    The party's working team was debating a proposal to increase the age of minors in cases where an adult can be charged for having sex with them from the current 12 years old and younger to 15 years old and younger.

    The panel proposed to finalize an interim report stating that "an adult should not subject those of junior high school age and younger to being their sexual partner for any reason." However, some of the participants expressed cautious views about banning sexual relationships between adults and junior high schoolers "for any reason." Honda apparently made the comment when an outside lecturer proposed raising the age of minors to 15 years old and younger.

    In many parts of Japan, meanwhile, an adult individual will be subject to punishment if they have sex with those in junior high school or younger under prefectural ordinances and other regulations.

    (Japanese original by Kenta Miyahara, Political News Department)

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