177th Diet, House of Representatives, Judicial Affairs Committee, #6

House of Representatives, Judicial Affairs Committee, #6 (November 13th, 2013)

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111 Jun Niimi

 I would like to answer your question.

 As a member of the Committee pointed out, the Hague Convention and its implementing laws were approved by the Diet at the last session of the Diet, and we are now working to bring them into force.

 For example, we are planning to receive public comments on the Cabinet Order by November 16, and on the Ministerial Order, we are planning to start receiving public comments in mid-November. In addition, the rules of the Supreme Court have just been published in the Official Gazette today, and we are now proceeding with the procedures with the aim of bringing them into effect as soon as possible.

 As for the evaluations from each country, we have generally received very positive evaluations from each country. For example, in a press release issued by the U.S. University in Tokyo, Ambassador Roos said that the U.S. welcomes Japan and that he commends the members of the Diet for ratifying the Hague Convention and passing the bill to enable full implementation of the Convention. The United States welcomes Japan, and at the Canada summit and the France summit, we have received words of appreciation from the leaders of the other countries.

112 Hidehiro Mitani

 I think that the conclusion of the Hague Convention and the fact that it is taking shape is a really big step forward.

 The Hague Convention applies to international child abduction cases, of course, but it also applies to domestic cases as well. This is of course applicable to international child abduction cases, but I hope that it will help to resolve such cases from the perspective of the welfare of children.

 In the meantime, one of the reasons why children are being taken away from each other is because joint custody is not recognized in Japan.

 In fact, when the Civil Code was amended in 2011, it was mentioned in the supplementary resolution. Let me read part 7 of the supplementary resolution, “With regard to the parental rights system, in light of the situation surrounding the family today and the situation after the enforcement of this law, the following points should be considered in the overall system, taking into account the various family images, such as the nature of disciplinary rights and their terminology, the method of determining parental rights at the time of divorce, the pros and cons of partial restriction of parental rights, and the possibility of joint custody and joint care after divorce. In this way, we will continue to study the entire system with an eye to diverse family images. What is the status of the study on joint custody?

113 Sadakazu Tanigaki

 The Diet passed the bill related to the Hague Convention, and there were various discussions on joint custody in the bill.

 So, at the moment, the Ministry of Justice, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is collecting information on the actual situation in each country by asking diplomatic missions abroad. We would like to come up with a direction by the end of this year, and we are now making plans to visit countries that use the joint custody system and conduct surveys after collecting such data by the end of this year.

114 Hidehiro Mitani

 Thank you very much.

 As mentioned earlier by Ms. Miho Takahashi, there is a general criticism that the word “study” is synonymous with “not study,” so it is written in the supplementary resolution that we should definitely study joint custody. Since two years have already passed, I hope that you will continue to work on this issue in a positive manner. I would like to ask you to continue your efforts in this regard.

Sadakazu Tanigaki

 I made a mistake when I said “within this fiscal year,” but we will go to investigate within this fiscal year.

116 Hidehiro Mitani

 I don’t care if it’s within this year or this fiscal year. I would like to ask you to work hard and positively on this.

 As we are down to the last five minutes, I would like to return to the original question.

 Revenge pornography has no legal definition, but generally speaking, it refers to a relationship between a man and a woman who have been in a relationship for a long time, and after the relationship has ended, the sexual photographs taken at the time of the relationship are published on the Internet or other media for the purpose of harassment. This is a kind of harassment. As the Internet has become more widespread, I have heard that this kind of problem has become more frequent, and I have also heard that this kind of thing has been behind some of the tragic incidents.

 I would like to ask you about this.

 For example, in the State of California in the U.S., there is an example of a law that specifically punishes revenge pornography, but does the Ministry of Justice have any plans to enact any laws or legislative measures on this issue?

117 Sadakazu Tanigaki

 At the moment, we do not have any special plans to introduce new legislation against revenge pornography.

 The reason for this is that, apart from defining what revenge pornography is, I think that the existing laws can be used to judge most of the possible problems.

 For example, if a person posts on the Internet a sexually explicit photo or something of a person he or she once had a relationship with, there is a great possibility that the crime of defamation can be committed. If it is a child under the age of 18, it could be considered a violation of the Child Pornography Prohibition Law. In addition, under Article 175 of the Penal Code, which now has a tongue-in-cheek name, crimes related to obscene materials and display of obscene electromagnetic recording media can also be committed. Therefore, I believe that the current system can be applied.

 If you look at the example of California, as you mentioned, or the examples of legislation in Europe, the U.S. and other countries, the statutory penalties for the crimes created there are much lower than the Japanese law that I mentioned earlier. There may be some debate as to whether it is better to have higher or lower statutory penalties, but I believe that the Japanese legal system has a considerable intimidation effect or deterrent effect.

 However, I believe that the Japanese legal system has a considerable threatening effect or deterrent effect.

118 Hidehiro Mitani

 I have read the answer of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors that the crime of defamation can be dealt with, so I thought I understood it.

 In fact, penal laws and regulations have two perspectives, general prevention and special prevention, and by punishing what has actually happened, there is of course a preventive effect or a special preventive effect on the individual, such as not to do the same thing. However, if I take legislative measures here, I think that the effect of spreading awareness of the fact that such acts should not be done cannot be wiped out.

 For example, in the past, there were a number of cases where people took spy shots of movies in movie theaters and uploaded them to the Internet. At that time, of course, this could be punished under the Copyright Act, but by taking the initiative to legislatively solve the problem of theft inside movie theaters and educate people about it, the number of cases of theft inside movie theaters decreased dramatically. In that sense, this is a case of revenge.

 In this sense, you mentioned how many legislative facts have been gathered on revenge pornography, and if those facts have been gathered, I would like to see positive action taken. I would like to ask for your consideration in this regard. As the time for questions has expired, I would like to conclude my question. There are many people who are suffering from these problems, so I would like to ask you to take action.

 I would like to conclude my question. Thank you very much for your time.

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