Domestic Case Law

平成16(受)1968 (2004 (Ju) No. 1968) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2006)

Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights

Two female members of a certain local community which have collective property rights to a common land (called a "common" or a "hamlet") petitioned the court to decide the unconstitutionality of a traditional practice which determined membership and property rights within the community. The court held that this custom which excludes female descendants who married outside of the community, is "contrary to public order and therefore null and void" under Article 90 of the Civil Code. The court held that "the male descendant requirement discriminates against female descendants only because they are females" and it is unreasonable and against the constitutional principle of "essential gender equality."

上告人らは、本件で問題となっている入会地について入会権を有していた者の女性直系卑属であった。本件は、上告人らが、本件における習慣のうち入会権者の資格を男性直系卑属に限ることが公序良俗に反して無効であるなどと主張した事案である。最高裁は、男性直系卑属要件は、民法第90条の下「公序良俗に反しており、したがって無効である」と判断した。 裁判所は、男の男性直系卑属要件は、専ら女子であることのみを理由として女子を男子と差別したものというべきであり、性別のみによる不合理な差別とし、男女の本質的な平等という日本国憲法上の基本的原則に反するとした。

平成16年(あ)2199 (2004 (A) No. 2199) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2005)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The defendant-husband, who had joint parental authority with his wife, forcibly took his son away from his mother. The court held that the defendant's act constituted kidnapping, as there were no special circumstances which made the defendant's actions necessary, and the act was "violent and coercive." In addition, the court found that the act of kidnapping the child could not be justified even though the defendant had parental authority.


平成14年(あ)805 (2002 (A) No. 805) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2003)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Trafficking in persons

The defendant-husband of Dutch nationality, married but separated from his Japanese wife, forcibly took his two-year-old daughter away from her mother with the purpose of taking her away to the Netherlands. The court held that the defendant kidnapped his daughter in a "malicious manner" when he pulled her by the legs, hanged her upside down and wedged her between his arm and waist, a criminal offense of kidnapping for the purpose of transporting the kidnapped person to a foreign country, under Article 226(1) of the Penal Code.

本件は、オランダ国籍で日本人の妻と婚姻していた被告人が、当時2歳の娘をオランダに連れ去る目的で、娘の足を引っ張り、逆さに吊るし、腕と腰の間に挟んだりして、母から娘を強制的に連れ去った事件である。 裁判所は、被告人が「悪質な方法」で娘を略取したとし、刑法第226条第1項の「国外移送略取罪」に該当するとした。

戸籍登録変更に関する異議申立書:28212731 (Appeal Concerning an Application for Permission to Revise a Family Registration, ID 28212731) 最高裁第三小法廷(2013年)(Third Petit Branch of the Supreme Court) (2013)

Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ

Person X1 transitioned from female to male. X1 registered as a male and married a woman, X2, in 2008. In 2009, X2 bore a child. In 2012, X1 applied to have the family registry reflect that X1 was the child’s father and that the child was born while X1 and X2 were married. The ward mayor in charge of changes to family registries held that there was a problem with the application because Article 774 of the Civil Law was inapplicable to the child’s situation as the child was not related by blood to X1. X1 did not comply with the ward mayor’s request to fix the application, so the ward mayor filled in the family registry for the child with a blank for father and a note that the child was X2’s oldest son. X1 and X2 filed suit to have X1 added as the child’s father on the grounds that the child should be presumed to be a “legitimately” born child based on Article 772 of the Civil Law. The Supreme Court held that the child should be presumed to be the son of X1, overruling the lower court and the ward mayor’s decision. The court reasoned that under Article 3.1 of the Gender Identity Disorder Law, a transgender man should be treated for all purposes under the law as a man. The court held that this includes being able to marry and have a “legitimate” child. Following this decision, the Ministry of Justice issued a notification on 27 January, 2014 directing that this procedure be followed for any similarly situated families. Subsequently, the state changed the family registry for 45 such couples to reflect that both parents are their children’s parents.


平成25年(許)5 (2013 (Kyo) No. 5) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2013)


The plaintiff-husband, who transitioned from female to male, and the plaintiff-wife requested the local public agency to amend their family registry to state the plaintiff-husband as the father of their child. The child was born by artificial insemination and had no blood relationship with the plaintiff-husband. The Supreme Court determined that, since the child was conceived by the plaintiff-wife during marriage, he is presumed to be a child of the plaintiff-husband under the Civil Code, and ordered the family registry to be amended.


平成24年(受)2231 (2012 (Ju) No. 2231) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was a physiotherapist in a managerial position at her employer. She requested and was granted maternity leave but was not allowed to return to her position at the end of the maternity leave. She filed a lawsuit against her employer, asserting that there was a violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. The Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiff because the Equal Employment Opportunity Law forbids disadvantaging employees based on the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, request for maternity leave, or request for transfer to lighter work.


平成10年(オ)576 (1998 (O) No. 576) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2001)

Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general

The plaintiff had breast cancer and sued her operating surgeon who conducted a mastectomy arguing that he had a duty to inform her in advance that there are other treatments that do not require complete breast removal. The Supreme Court determined that the surgeon had a legal obligation to give her an opportunity to make an informed decision about her treatment, in this case by providing the name and address of medical institutions that conduct breast cancer operations that do not remove the entire breast.


平成16年(あ)2571 (2004 (A) No. 2571) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2005)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual harassment, Stalking

The defendant was indicted under the Stalker Regulation Law on a charge of stalking his former girlfriend. The defendant demanded many times by email and phone that she repay costs he incurred while they were dating. The defendant sent a letter to her threatening to distribute nude photos of her if she did not unblock him on her cell phone. The Supreme Court determined that, even though he sent the letter only once, his conduct amounted to “stalking” under the Stalker Regulation Law since his conduct was as a whole persistent and repetitive.


平成19(あ)1223 (2007 (A) No. 1223) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant broke into the house of the victim and, after indecently touching her, tried to escape. The victim was accidentally injured during the escape. The defendant was charged with the crime of Forcible Indecency Causing Injury. The Supreme Court concluded that, even though the injury was not directly caused by assault or intimidation, the defendant could be convicted of Forcible Indecency Causing Injury because the assault was committed closely before or after the indecent act.


平成28年(あ)1731 (2016 (A). No. 1731) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant committed acts of obscenity upon a young girl. He alleged that it was only for a monetary purpose—to record the act and give the recording to his acquaintance in return for receiving a loan —and that he had no sexual intent. The defendant appealed the High Court’s ruling that sexual intent is not required to establish a prima facie case of indecent assault, which is proscribed by Article 176 of the Japanese Penal Code. He argued that the High Court’s finding was inconsistent with judicial precedent holding that sexual intent is an element of the crime. The Supreme Court, upon noting that the scope of sexual crimes cannot be properly determined without taking into account the views of contemporary society, found that, in the present day, the focus should be on the existence, details, and extent of sexual damage caused to a victim rather than an assailant’s intent. Thus, the Supreme Court, upheld the High Court’s finding and overturned the 47-year-old jurisprudence. The Court found that, while it could not deny that there may be a situation in which the sexual intent of a perpetrator becomes an important factor in finding the crime, it was not reasonable to uniformly require the existence of such a factor for the crime of indecent assault.


平成28年(許)45 (2016 (Kyo) No. 45) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2017)

Gender-based violence in general, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The appellant in this case had been arrested and punished with a fine for allegedly paying for child prostitution in violation of the Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children (before its revision by Act No. 79 of 2014). The news media reported his arrest for the alleged charge, and all or part of the coverage was made available at several websites that were searchable on the appellee search engine. This case concerned the appellant’s request—based on his personal rights and moral interests—for an order of provisional disposition, requiring the search engine to make websites that refer to the appellant’s criminal record unsearchable. The High Court dismissed the request. The Supreme Court, on one hand, recalled its finding from precedents that the protection of information related to an individual’s privacy is subject to legal protection. On the other hand, it noted that search engines’ provision of search results (1) may constitute acts of expression and (2) has become an important infrastructure for distribution of information through the internet. The Supreme Court then found that the evaluation of whether providing particular search results amounts to an illegal action must take into account both the benefits of making the information at question unsearchable, and reasons and circumstances pertaining to providing such search results; the court can require that the search engine remove such search results only if the former exceeds the latter. In this case, the Supreme Court found that, while the criminal record at issue pertained to the privacy of the appellant and which he did not wish to be made largely available to the public, such information also concerned the public interest in light of the nature of crimes relating to child porn and child prostitution. In addition, the Supreme Court took into account that the information dissemination was limited to a certain degree considering that such search results did not show up unless a search engine user used the appellant’s name and his residing prefecture together as search keywords. Thus, the Supreme Court found that the benefit of making the information at issue unsearchable did not exceed the need of having the websites at issue on the search engine and sustained the lower court’s ruling.


平成28年(受)2076 (2016 (Ju) No. 2076) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2018)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment, Stalking

The appellee, a former employee of the appellant’s subsidiary, suffered sexual harassment and stalking from an employee of the appellant’s other subsidiary who shared the same work site with the appellee. The appellant had developed a corporate-group-wide compliance system, which included a consulting desk at which an employee of the appellant or its subsidiaries could raise and discuss any compliance-related matters. The appellee brought the harassment issue to her supervisors at her immediate employer (i.e. the appellant’s subsidiary) twice, but sufficient solutions were not provided, following which she left the company without bringing the issues to the consulting desk. The stalking continued even after her resignation, so her former colleague who still worked at the appellant's subsidiary brought the issue before the appellant through the consulting desk, but it did not provide sufficient solutions either. The question brought before the Supreme Court was whether the appellant (i.e. a parent company of her former immediate employer) bore the duties based on the principle of good faith to provide certain protective measures to the appellant because it had developed the corporate-group-wide compliance system. The Supreme Court found that the appellant was not imposed with such duties in light of particular facts in the case since the appellant did not bring the harassment issue to the consulting desk during her employment. However, in dicta, the Court stated that a parent company, depending on particular facts of the case, can be responsible for providing sufficient solutions to an employee of its subsidiary who is a victim of sexual harassment––failure of which would result in liability for damage based on the principle of good faith––if the parent company provides a system through which the employee could, and actually did, bring an issue of sexual harassment to the parent company’s attention.


平成19年(行ツ)164 (2007 (Gyo-Tsu) No. 164) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2008)

Gender discrimination

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether a part of a provision in the Japanese Nationality Act conformed with Article 14.1 of the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on race, belief, sex, social status, or lineage. The provision at issue did not grant Japanese nationality to a child born out of wedlock to a non-Japanese mother and a Japanese father––even if the father formally declares and recognizes the father-child relationship––unless the child obtains legal recognition as a child of the man and the woman through their marriage. The Supreme Court first noted that the Japanese Nationality Act does not grant Japanese nationality to a child in the aforementioned situation although it recognizes a parent-child relationship and grants Japanese nationality to a child born out of wedlock if (1) the child’s mother was Japanese or (2) the child’s Japanese father filed for the recognition of the father-child relationship before the child’s birth. The Court found that, while creating this distinction was reasonable at the time of the legislation, such a distinction amounted to unjustifiable discrimination in present day Japan. Thus, the Supreme Court found that the part of the provision at issue was unconstitutional and invalid. In its reasoning, the majority opinion stated, inter alia, “under the Japanese Nationality Act that adopts the principle of jus sanguinis, maintaining a distinction in terms of eligibility to have Japanese nationality based on whether the Japanese parent is the mother or the father of the child at issue does not accord with the basic principle of equality of the sexes.”

本件の争点は、当時の日本の国籍法の一部の合憲性である。当時の国籍法は日本国民である父の非嫡出子について、父母の婚姻により嫡出子たる身分を取得した者に限り日本国籍の取得を認めている。同じく日本国民である父から認知された子でありながら父母が法律上の婚姻をしていない非嫡出子は、その余の同項所定の要件を満たしても日本国籍を取 得することができないという区別が生じていた。最高裁は、このような区別を設けることは、立法当時は合理的であったが、現在の日本では合理的理由のない差別であると判断し、問題となった規定の一部を違憲・無効とした。その理由として、「日本国民である母の非嫡出子が出生により日本国籍を取得するにもかかわらず,日本国民である父から出生後に認知されたにとどまる非嫡出子が届出による日本国籍の取得すら認められないことには,両性の平等という観点からみてその基本的立場に沿わない」と述べた。

平成24年(ク)984 (2012 (Ku) No. 984) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2013)

Property and inheritance rights

In this appeal, a child born to unmarried parents appealed the High Court’s finding that a relevant part of the proviso to Article 900.4 of the Japanese Civil Code was not inconsistent with Article 14.1 of the Constitution of Japan, prohibiting discrimination based on race, belief, sex, social status, or lineage. The proviso set forth that the statutory share in inheritance of a child born out of wedlock is half of that of a child in wedlock. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling and found that the proviso was inconsistent with Article 14.1 of the Constitution. In making this finding, the Supreme Court took into account the changes in the following, which have been observed since 1947––the year in which the Japanese Civil Code was revised after World War II: Japanese society, forms of family, legislative acts in foreign countries, and relevant Japanese legal frameworks. The Supreme Court noted that, even though the system of civil marriage is strongly respected in Japanese society, society has come to accept the idea that a child should not suffer disadvantages based on a factor that she/he did not cause or could not change––whether to have been born in or out of wedlock––and that a child’s rights need to be protected and she/he must be given respect as an individual.


平成16年(受)1748 (2004 (Ju) No. 1748) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2006)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The Supreme Court was asked to rule whether a father-child relationship could be legally recognized in the case where a child’s mother became pregnant through in-vitro fertilization with the frozen sperm of a deceased husband who, while he was alive, had consented to the use of the sperm even after his death. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling and declined to recognize the father-child relationship. The Supreme Court considered that the legal framework in Japan concerning parent-child relationships did not anticipate such a relationship between a father and his child who was conceived after his death in light of the fact that, even if the father-child relationship had been legally established, the deceased father would not be in a position to hold parental rights, he would not be able to support his child, and the child could not be an heir of the father for the purposes of inheritance. According to the Supreme Court, such issues need to be addressed by legislation upon analyzing several factors including bioethics, child welfare, and social acceptance. As the country lacks such legislation, the Supreme Court did not find that the father-parent relationship could be established.


平成19年(許)47 (2006 (Kyo) No. 47) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2007)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, International law

A Japanese married couple petitioned for a court order that a Japanese local government accept birth registers for twins born from a surrogate mother in Nevada with the ovum and sperm of the Japanese couple. The state of Nevada, pursuant to its state court, had issued birth certificates for the twins, which showed the Japanese couple as their parents. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling that the birth registers need to be accepted. It stated that Article 118 of the Japanese Civil Proceedings Act prescribes that a final judgment made by a foreign court takes effect in Japan only if it satisfies all enumerated conditions, which include that “the foreign court’s ruling and its proceedings are not contrary to public policy in Japan.” The Supreme Court recalled that the Japanese Civil Code stands on the premise that a mother of a child is a woman who conceived and delivered the child and that a mother-child relationship is established through objective factors such as gestation and delivery. According to the Supreme Court, when a parent-child relationship can be legally established is a matter that forms the basis of the country’s legal order, and factors for finding such a relationship must be unequivocal. Thus, the Court found that a mother-child relationship between the twins and the Japanese wife could not be established, given that the Nevada court’s ruling, which recognized a parent-child relationship contrary to Japanese laws, ran against the public policy in Japan. In its statement, the Supreme Court urged the Japanese legislature to address the issues of parent-child relationships and assisted reproductive technology through legislation.


平成25年(受)233 (2013 (Ju) No. 233) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2014)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

A mother, on behalf of her infant child, filed a lawsuit for a declaratory judgment for absence of parent-child relationship with the appellant––a man to whom the mother was married when the child was born. The request for the judgment was based on the fact that a DNA test result showed that, with 99.99 percent probability, the infant was a child of a different man, with whom the mother was having an affair. By the time of the trial, the wife and the child had left the appellant to live with the child’s biological father. Article 772 of the Japanese Civil Code, in general, presumes a man to be the father of a child if the man is married to the mother of the child at the time of conception. While Article 774 allows the husband to file a proceeding to rebut such a presumption, the wife or the child does not have standing to initiate such a proceeding. The Supreme Court, stressing the importance of maintaining legal stability pertaining to familial status, found that the facts that (i) there was scientific evidence that clearly denied a biological father-child relationship and that (ii) the child was currently raised––without any problem––by the biological father does not negate the presumption of the father-child relationship under Article 772 of Japanese Civil Code, as the importance of maintaining the legal stability pertaining to familial status would not be undermined by such factors. Therefore, the Supreme Court found that there was no legal ground to deliver the requested declaratory judgment.


平成29年(受)2015 (2017 (Ju) No. 2015) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, International law

This case concerns the custody of a Japanese couple’s son who was born and raised in the United States until the mother, without the father’s consent, took him to Japan when he was 11 years old. Pursuant to the Japanese implementation of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the father, who was still based in the U.S., petitioned for the return of the son to the U.S. A family court in Tokyo granted the petition. However, the attempt to enforce the order of the court failed as the mother strongly resisted when a court execution officer approached her––the son also voiced his desire to stay in Japan at the time. Subsequently, the father requested habeas corpus relief seeking release of the child. The High Court dismissed the request. In this appeal, the Supreme Court of Japan reversed the High Court’s ruling and remanded the case. In its reasoning, the Supreme Court first recalled its old ruling that care for a child is tantamount to “restraint” within the meaning of the Habeas Corpus Act and the Habeas Corpus Rules in special circumstances where it cannot be deemed that the child is staying with the care provider based on the child’s free will, even if the child is capable of making her/his own decisions. The Supreme Court found such a special circumstance––undue emotional influence from his mother––existed with respect to the son in light of the fact that he was not capable of making decisions regarding his life when he was taken to Japan, he appeared to have had less than sufficient opportunities to communicate with his father, and he had been largely dependent on his mother. Furthermore, the Supreme Court found that the restraint at issue was unequivocally unlawful, taking into account that the mother had refused to follow the family court’s order to return the child to the U.S., and that there was no special circumstance in which removing the child would be significantly unjust. This Supreme Court’s unanimous decision may be an indication that the Court will put significant weight on compliance with The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.


平成26年(オ)1023 (2014 (O) No. 1023) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan (Grand Bench)) (2015)

Gender discrimination

The Civil Code requires a husband and wife to both adopt the surname of either the husband or the wife at the time of marriage. The plaintiffs in this case were five women who had either chosen to continue using their pre-marriage surnames, or who had had their notifications of marriage rejected for failing to choose a surname. The plaintiffs sued the State pursuant to the State Redress Act, arguing that the provision violated the Constitution and therefore the failure to take legislative measures to amend or abolish the provision was illegal. The District Court and the High Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, and the Supreme Court affirmed. The Supreme Court found that 1) there is no constitutional right to freedom from being forced to change one’s surname upon marriage, 2) the provision does not formally create inequality between the sexes and the fact that the overwhelming majority of married couples choose the husband’s surname is not a direct consequence of the substance of the provision, and 3) the provision does not lack reasonableness nor restrict the individual dignity or the essential equality of the sexes. However, the Supreme Court also noted that while the current provision may not be unconstitutional, it does not mean that allowing married couples to choose separate surnames would be constitutionally unreasonable.


平成26年(受)1310 (2014 (Ju) No. 1310) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan (First Petit Bench)) (2015)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiffs were two male employees who had been temporarily suspended from work and demoted from their managerial positions for sexually harassing female employees by making comments of a sexual nature in the office. The plaintiffs sued the company, seeking a declaratory judgment that such disciplinary actions were void because there were no grounds for such actions, and/or the actions were taken abusively. The High Court found for the plaintiffs. On appeal, the Supreme Court overturned the High Court’s judgment, finding that the disciplinary actions taken against the plaintiffs were not an abuse of the company’s right to take action, and that furthermore the actions did not lack objectively reasonable grounds and were appropriate from a general societal perspective. The Supreme Court reasoned that 1) the plaintiffs had repeatedly made obscene or insulting statements to or about the female employees, despite warnings from superiors, 2) the company had distributed guidelines prohibiting sexual harassment and had held a mandatory seminar on sexual harassment, 3) in many cases, employees who experience sexual harassment may not expressly object due to concerns about damaging relationships with colleagues, despite the distress caused by the harassment, and 4) the plaintiffs, who were in managerial positions, should have recognized the policy and attitude of the company on the issue of sexual harassment as a matter of course.


平成25年(オ)1079 (2013 (O) No. 1079) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2015)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff, who had divorced her former husband and remarried seven months later, sued the State claiming that she had suffered mental distress due to a provision in the Civil Code which barred women from remarrying until six months after the dissolution or rescission of her previous marriage. Both the District Court and the High Court dismissed the plaintiff’s argument, saying that the restriction was not necessarily unreasonable because it was meant to avert confusion over the paternity of any children born immediately after a divorce. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, holding that the provision violated the Constitution only to the extent that the restriction exceeded 100 days, because 1) the Civil Code already provided that a child born more than 200 days after the formation of a marriage or less than 300 days after the dissolution/rescission of a marriage would be presumed to have been conceived within the marriage, and 2) advances in medical technology and societal changes made it difficult to justify a restriction lasting beyond 100 days. However, the Supreme Court also affirmed the District Court and High Court in finding that the State was not liable in this case for failing to abolish the regulation, as this did not constitute an exceptional case that might incur liability under the State Redress Act. Shortly after this judgment, the Civil Code was amended to decrease the six-month waiting period to 100 days.


平成22年(あ)2011 (2010 (A) No. 2011) 最高裁 (Supreme Court of Japan) (2012)

Gender-based violence in general

The defendant was accused of taking and imprisoning four young women in either the guestroom of a hotel or in the defendant’s home. The victims suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) as a result of the imprisonment. One of the key issues in the case was whether the defendant’s act constituted the crime of Confinement Causing Injury, or only the crime of Confinement. The defendant argued that a psychiatric condition, such as PTSD, should not be regarded as an “injury” under the Criminal Code. The District Court and the High Court dismissed the defendant’s argument, and the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that if the defendant illegally imprisoned the victim and the victim developed continuous and characteristic PTSD symptoms as a result of the imprisonment, the victim’s PTSD could constitute an “injury” under the Criminal Code. Therefore, the defendant’s act constituted Confinement Causing Injury. This was the first Supreme Court precedent which found that a purely psychiatric condition which was not accompanied by a physical manifestation could fall within the meaning of “injury.”


2009 (JinNa) No. 9 Supreme Court of Japan (2010)

Custodial violence

The plaintiff father was granted sole custody of his child in divorce proceedings in Wisconsin, USA. The defendant mother took the child to Japan. The plaintiff father sued for custody at the Osaka High Court. The court found in favor of the defendant mother because the father had a history of violence, the child lives a stable life and had many friends in Japan, and the child desired to live with the defendant mother.

2007 (A) No. 520 Supreme Court of Japan (2007)

Sexual harassment

The defendant was indicted under the Stalker Regulation Law on a charge of stalking his former girlfriend by sending two rose bouquets and five letters. The defendant argued that the Stalker Regulation Law is unconstitutional because it infringes a “right to fulfill romantic feelings”. The Supreme Court rejected the defendant’s argument opining that even if a right to fulfill romantic feelings were to exist, the purpose of the Stalker Regulation Law is legitimate and its contents are reasonable.

2004 (Ju) No. 247 Supreme Court of Japan (2004)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The plaintiff husband filed for divorce arguing that his wife was impossible to live with due to her neurosis for cleanliness. The defendant wife refused to agree to divorce because she had a seven-year-old child who needed child support. The plaintiff dated another woman and was living separately from the defendant for two years and four months before filing for divorce. The Supreme Court refused to grant divorce because (i) the plaintiff destroyed family trust by dating another woman, (ii) the period of living separately was not long, (iii) their child was still only seven years old, and (iv) it would be difficult for the defendant who suffered from a neurosis to find a job to support herself.

2001 (Ju) No. 1066 Supreme Court of Japan (2003)

Employment discrimination

The plaintiff exercised her right under Japanese law to reduce her working hours to spend time taking care of her child. The internal policy of her employer stated that employees who did not attend work for 90% or more of work days are ineligible for a bonus. The plaintiff’s employer counted the plaintiff’s shortened working days as absences and refused to pay her a bonus. The plaintiff sued her company for a bonus. The Supreme Court determined that the employer’s internal policy violated public policy and the employer should have counted actual working hours when calculating attendance rate.

2007(A) No. 1961 Supreme Court of Japan (2008)


The accused was charged with the act of stalking a female customer at a shopping mall, taking photographs of her buttocks in trousers with his cellular phone with a built-in digital camera from a close distance. The court held that this act constituted an obscene act making a victim feel embarrassed or insecure under the Hokkaido Prefecture Ordinance on Prevention of Violent Public Nuisance No. 34 of 1965, which criminalizes obscene behavior.


ストーカー規制法(平成12年法律81号)(Anti-Stalking Control Law (Act No. 81 of 2000)) (2000)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Dowry-related violence, Gender-based violence in general

The Stalker Control Law prohibits acts of stalking, against a victim or the victim’s spouse, at the victim’s residence, place of employment or school. In addition to broadly prohibiting stalking, the statute also includes lying in wait, demanding a meeting, violent acts, silent phone calls and sending dirty or explicit items, animal carcasses or sexually insulting materials. The Chief of Police may issue a warning, and the Public Safety Commission may issue a prohibition order, upon petition by the victim. To ensure its effectiveness, the statute provides for imprisonment with work or a fine to be imposed on people who repeatedly violate the Law or who violate a prohibition order.


配偶者からの暴力の防止及び被害者の保護等に関する法律(平成13年法律第31号)(Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims, etc. (Act No. 31 of 2001)) (2001)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Dowry-related violence

The Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims etc. (the “Act”) was enacted to prevent spousal violence. The Act aims to protect victims by establishing a system for notification, counseling, protection and support for self-reliance following an incident of spousal violence. The Act provides that the court shall, upon a petition from the victim, issue a restraining order, exclusion order and prohibition of telephone contact order (collectively, a “Protection Order”) where a victim is highly likely to experience serious psychological or bodily harm due to the actions of his or her spouse or domestic partner. The Act does not cover partners who are in a relationship but live separately. To ensure the effectiveness of the Protection Order, violations of the Act include imprisonment with work or fines. Furthermore, the Act requires that citizens who detect spousal violence make efforts to a Spousal Violence Counseling and Support Center, temporary protection, support worker, or a police officer.


雇用の分野における男女の均等な機会及び待遇の確保等に関する法律(昭和47年法律113号)(Act on Securing, Etc., of Equal Opportunity between Men and Women in Employment (Act No. 113 of 1972)) (2017)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, International law, Sexual harassment

The Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment ("the Act") aims to promote equal opportunities and treatment of men and women in the workplace. The Act falls under Article 1 of the Constitution’s mandate for the government to ensure equality under law and promote measures to ensure the health of working women during pregnancy and after childbirth. Japan enacted the Act in 1985 upon the United Nation’s ratification of Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women. The Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sex at each stage of recruitment, assignment, and promotion. It also prohibits discriminatory treatment based on marriage status, pregnancy, and childbirth. In addition, an Amendment to the Act in 2017 obligates employers to take steps to prevent harassment based on a protected status. To ensure its effectiveness, the Act requires that employer violations of the statute be publicly announced, and a fine imposed on employers who violate the reporting obligation.

「雇用の分野における男女の均等な機会及び待遇の確保等に関する法律」は、職場における男女の均等な機会及び待遇を促進することを目的としている。本法は、憲法第1条の「法の下の平等を確保し、働く女性の妊娠中及び出産後の健康を確保するための措置を推進すること」に該当します。 日本は、国連の女性差別撤廃条約の批准を受けて、1985年に本法を制定した。 同法は、採用、配置、昇進の各段階において、性別に基づく雇用差別を禁止した。また、婚姻関係、妊娠・出産に基づく差別的取り扱いも禁止している。2017年、同法改正により、雇用主は保護されるべき地位に基づくハラスメントを防止するための措置を講じることが義務付けられた。 その実効性を確保するため、同法では、雇用主が法令に違反した場合にはその違反を公示し、罰金を課すことができる。

明治40年法律第45号 (Penal Code (Act No. 45 of 1907)) (2007)

International law, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

The Penal Code (the “Code”) covers Japanese criminal law and sentencing. The relevant provisions with respect to gender justice issues in the Code are Rape, Gang Rape, Forcible Indecency, and Inducement to Promiscuous Intercourse. Rape was initially classified as a crime only involving female victims, but was amended to include men in 2017. The Code states that a person who commits one of more of the listed crimes shall be punished by imprisonment with work for life, or for a definite term corresponding to the gravity of a crime. Further, based on the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” adopted by the United Nations, the Code was amended in 2005 to include the crime of Human Trafficking. Under the amendment, selling or purchasing a human is a crime, with the criminal punishment being more severe in cases with the purpose of profit, indecency, or marriage.

刑法は、犯罪と刑罰を規定している法律である。刑法の中で、ジェンダー・ジャスティスに関連する条項は、強姦、集団強姦、強制わいせつ、淫乱性交誘引が含まれる。強姦は当初、女性の被害者のみを対象とした犯罪として分類されていたが、2017年に男性も対象とされるよう刑法が改正された。同法では、列挙された犯罪の1つ以上を犯した者は、終身刑または罪の重さに応じた有期懲役に処される。 さらに、国連の「国際的な組織犯罪の防止に関する国際連合条約を補足する人(特に女性及び児童)の取引を防止し、抑止し及び処罰するための議定書」に基づき、2005年に刑法が改正され、人身売買が追加された。本改正により、人身売買が犯罪となり、営利目的、わいせつ目的、結婚目的で人身売買した場合は刑事罰がさらに重くなる。

日本国憲法 (Constitution of Japan) (1945)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general

Under Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution, “all citizens of Japan are equal under the law, and shall not be discriminated against in political, economic or social relations on the basis of sex.” Article 24 of the Constitution states that marriage can only be formed through the mutual consent of both sexes, and it must be maintained through mutual cooperation of husband and wife. Furthermore, Article 24 provides that “husband and wife have equal rights” under the law. Based Article 14 and Article 24, the following laws were enacted: the Basic Act for a Gender Equal Society requires the state and local public entities to take steps towards the formation of a gender-equal society; the Act on Securing of Equal Opportunity and Treatment Between Men and Women in Employment prohibits employers from discriminating based on gender; and the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims etc., and the Stalker Control Law protect women from gender-based violence.