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The Voice of Tokyo for over 50 Years

JAPAN’S NO.1 ENGLISH LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

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News Roundup: Parliament Passes New Laws Relating to Cyberbullying and Porn

And there’s also a new legislation regarding same-sex partnerships in Tokyo

By Matthew Hernon

This week’s news roundup is dominated by new legislations. As well as the introduction of laws relating to cyberbullying and porn, we report on the passing of a bill that will recognize same-sex partnerships in Tokyo. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the latest on a very old law, that many people feel is in need of revising, concerning married couples and surnames. Speaking of marriage, a government white paper reveals that many people in their 30s have no interest in getting hitched. And in sport, Japan are soundly beaten by Tunisia. 

Tougher Penalties for Online Insults  

From later this summer, people convicted of online insults could be jailed for up to a year or fined ¥300,000. A bill to introduce these tougher penalties was passed at an upper house plenary session on Monday. Presently, the punishment for online abuse is detention for less than 30 days or a fine up to ¥10,000. Supporters of the revised law say it is required to crack down on cyberbullying. Not everyone sees things that way, though. 

Critics are concerned that it could impede free speech and be used to protect those in power from being criticized. “There needs to be a guideline that makes a distinction on what qualifies as an insult,” said criminal lawyer, Seiho Cho to CNN. “For example, at the moment, even if someone calls the leader of Japan an idiot, then maybe under the revised law that could be classed as an insult.” Calls for something to be done about cyberbullying grew louder after Terrace House member Hana Kimura took her own life in 2020. 

New Law Designed to Prevent Exploitation in Porn  

A new law was passed on Wednesday that aims to protect people from being pressured into porn. The “groundbreaking” legislation allows those that appear in adult movies to cancel their contracts within a year of the work’s release for any reason and without paying a fine. In such cases, the videos must be recalled and deleted. Porn makers must also wait a month after a contract has been signed to start shooting. They can then only release the work four months after filming.  

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, YouTuber Kurumin Aroma said recruiters preyed on her aspiration to break into the music industry to pressure her to appear in a porn film. “When girls as young as, say, 18 or 19 are presented with an opportunity to make their dream come true, I don’t think they’re capable of level-headed judgment,” she added. Aroma described the new legislation as “a step forward,” but remains concerned that young people will struggle to refuse offers when there are no observers around. 

Tokyo to Recognize Same-Sex Partnerships from November 

From November 1 of this year, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) will be issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples. The bill, which was approved on Wednesday, will make it easier for sexual minority couples to access certain services and move into apartment complexes operated by the TMG. “I now feel we can live together as a family. I hope the system will work so that we can use it with ease,” said Soyoka Yamamoto, head of the advocacy group, Partnership Act for Tokyo. 

Applications for the certificate will be accepted from October 11. Both partners need to be at least 18 years old and not married or in another relationship. Foreign nationals are eligible to apply. Though the new legislation has been well-received by the LGBTQ community, many feel it hasn’t gone far enough. The ruling doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, which would secure rights of inheritance and child custody, while also allowing Japanese citizens to sponsor a foreign spouse’s visa. 

Couple’s Marriage Registry Request Rejected Again  

Japan is believed to be the only country in the world that requires married couples to share the same surname. The century-old provision, based on the Civil Code and Family Register Act, was ruled as constitutional by the Japan Supreme Court last year. Couples, however, continue to fight the ruling, including Kiyoko Kashiwagi and Kazuhiro Soda. The Japanese pair, who both work in the movie industry, kept their own surnames after tying the knot in New York in 1997.  

In 2018, they submitted a marriage registration form, using their respective surnames, to the Chiyoda Ward Office in Tokyo. This was rejected. They subsequently took their case to the Tokyo District Court last April. Though the court ruled their marriage as “valid,” the issue of marriage registry was dismissed. Another attempt to get it registered at a Tokyo Ward Office was once again turned down on Monday. They will now file their complaint with the Tokyo Family Court. 

Many Singles in their 30s Have No Interest in Marriage  

A quarter of people in their 30s who’ve never been married in Japan are not interested in tying the knot. That’s according to a survey on marriage and income taken from the government’s white paper on gender equality. As for those unmarried in their 20s, 19.3 percent of men and 14 percent of women gave the same answer. A total of 20,000 people, in their 20s to 60s, responded to the questionnaire.  

Asked why they weren’t interested in getting hitched, the top answer from both sexes was wanting to keep their freedom. Another popular response from women was having to shoulder the burden of housework, childcare and nursing care. For many men, a lack of financial stability and job insecurity were two factors as to why they are against marrying. The survey also revealed that nearly 40 percent of men in their 20s have never been on a date.  

Japan Humbled by Tunisia 

Two mistakes from Maya Yoshida cost Japan as they lost 3-0 to Tunisia in the final of soccer’s Kirin Cup. The Sampdoria defender first gave away a needless penalty which was converted by Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane. He then hesitated to let in Ferjani Sassi who set up Youssef Msakni for the second. Issam Jebali added a third from distance in injury time. It was a disappointing performance from Hajime Moriyasu’s men following their 4-1 victory over Ghana last Friday.   

At the World Cup in November, Japan will face Spain, Germany and Costa Rica. The Central American side booked their place at the tournament on Tuesday with a 1-0 play-off win over New Zealand in Qatar’s Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. “It’s not just Germany and Spain. Without a doubt, Costa Rica are strong opponents, too. I want to prepare to take three points against them in the second game,” said Moriyasu after Los Ticos’ victory. 


Feature image by Anna Petek