The Widespread Issue of Secret Filming in Japan 

By Rachel Selva

Japan has managed to portray a respectful and organized image. One can even describe the Japanese culture or mannerisms as “kawaii.”  

For example, Japanese people tend to follow etiquette: no smoking, no noise in public, no littering, making sure to clean up after oneself, etc. Japanese culture is typically more reserved, although many foreigners do not discuss the ongoing upskirting in Japan. Upskirting is taking nonconsensual photographs under a person’s skirt to see some form of genitalia. 

Japan has been dealing with upskirting since the early 2000s. To prevent upskirting, most smartphones in Japan contain a mandatory sound feature while snapping photos. No reports of the new rule being effective, but Japan has seen upskirting incidents decrease. Although it raises a more prominent concern: how exactly do we solve this issue and make those who do it suffer consequences?  

According to BBC News, Japan has decided to make a bill against the issue, naming it “photo voyeurism.” The bill would prohibit acts such as upskirting and secretly filming sexual acts. According to a BBC News article, Japan to ban upskirting in sweeping sex crime reforms, by Kelly Ng, the bill is a broader overhaul of Japan’s laws on sex crime. The bill criminalizes the act of taking pictures of people who are not aware or without consent. The bill targets the filming of children “in a sexual manner without justifiable reason.” This is because many young female models in Japan are portrayed provocatively. The penalty, if found guilty, consists of three years in prison and up to three million Japanese yen (About $22,000).  

According to Yahoo News, in 2021, Japan made 5000 arrests for clandestine photography. While interviewing Liz Ye, 22, and asking her how she feels about the issue, she states, “This isn’t anything new this has been an ongoing issue all over Japan; we have to do better for society as a whole. I do not want to worry if I wear a skirt, a nonconsensual photo being taken of me. I hope this bill helps cause more reform within the system and the public. I hope this sets an example for other countries or states, as this is a worldwide issue. Japan is just another example.” While talking to Ye, off the record, we spoke about the reform needed not just in Japan but everywhere to help our society and help our women and young girls worldwide feel heard and, most importantly, safe. 


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