Japan Introduces Laws to Ban ‘Photo Voyeurism’

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Japan is introducing its first nationwide laws to criminalize exploitative “photo voyeurism.”

Japanese lawmakers recently submitted the bill against “photo voyeurism” which will prohibit acts such as “upskirting” and taking sexually exploitative images and videos of others without consent.

Upskirting means the act of taking photographs beneath a woman’s skirt without their consent. But the term has also come to generally define the act of taking a sexually intrusive photograph of someone without their permission.

The BBC reports that the reforms are expected to be passed in Japan in June and offenders would face imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to $22,000 (3 million Japanese yen).

The move to introduce the “photo voyeurism” bill has come amid pressure from younger Japanese women for lawmakers to criminalize sexually exploitative acts facilitated by mobile phone photography.

In 2021, Japanese police made more than 5,000 arrests for clandestine photography — a record number and about three times the amount of cases in 2010.

The majority of cell phone manufacturers in Japan have had to install audible shutter sounds on mobile devices, in order to prevent secret filming.

And the issue is even more serious at sporting events in the country. Young athletes in sporting attire in Japan are frequently targeted by people engaging in sneak photography of a sexually malicious nature.

According to Japan Times, lawmakers and competitive athletes emphasized the need for legislation on surreptitious photography at a symposium on April 15.

“You cannot say that just because photos are taken of someone who’s clothed that it isn’t a problem,” lawyer Yoji Kudo says.

“We shouldn’t give up on legal controls simply because it is difficult to draw a line of distinction.”

The crackdown on people taking surreptitious photographs is part of a wider overhaul of Japan’s laws on sex crimes. The bill also bans the filming of children “in a sexual manner without justifiable reason”.

In Japan, child models, who are mostly girls, are regularly portrayed in sexually provocative ways and asked to pose in lingerie or swimsuits.

The bill will also ban the taking, distribution, and or possession of photographs of someone’s genitals without their consent.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.