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Tokyo Report: Japanese lawmakers trying to keep kids off sex crimes

  • June 16, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 7:30 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, June 16 (Jiji Press)–Suprapartisan efforts are gathering pace in Japan to protect children from sex crimes committed by care workers and school teachers.

A project team set up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to end the government’s vertical administrative structure proposed in late April to establish a Japanese version of Britain’s Disclosure and Barring Service.

The DBS, which belongs to the Home Office, issues certificates, on the basis of its database of sex crimes, to individuals. It requires applicants for jobs related to children to submit noncriminal certificates so that employers can make safe recruitment decisions.

Japan needs such a system to keep sex offenders away from children, according to the project team. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who received the proposal, said the government would consider the proposal “promptly and positively.”

“Even if school teachers are disqualified, they can be re-employed for jobs involving children, such as child care services and after-school care programs,” said Yayoi Kimura, an LDP member of the House of Representatives, working for the protection of children from sex offenders. “An extensive security net should be established for fields related to children,” she said on the need for a Japanese version of the DBS.

Some LDP members are discussing introducing the system together with the planned establishment of a new agency to coordinate policies for children.

The opposition Democratic Party for the People has presented a bill to parliament stating that teachers and child care workers should be disqualified if they commit sex crimes against people aged under 18 and banned from getting requalified for up to 10 years. The bill also includes a requirement that the government works to introduce a DBS-like system.

But the introduction of a noncriminal certificate system needs to clear many legal hurdles, as it would impose restrictions on offenders’ human rights such as the protection of personal information and opportunities for rehabilitation from past crimes.

“If the presentation of noncriminal certificates is required on many occasions, the social re-integration of offenders will become difficult,” Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said.

Still, Kohei Maeda, head of Florence, a nonprofit organization for child-rearing support, is calling for the introduction of a Japanese version of the DBS.

“The recidivism rate for obscene offenses against children is high and the mere presence of children nearby triggers offenders to commit them again,” Maeda said. “They can be rehabilitated better if they are kept away from (children) for treatment,” he said.

Given increases in the number of teachers disciplined for committing obscene and other indecent conduct against small children and students, the LDP and its coalition partner, Komeito, have also made legislative efforts to keep them out of school.

School teachers who are stripped of teaching licenses are allowed to apply to regain them three years later. In late May, however, parliament passed a bill sponsored by the two parties as well as some opposition forces to reject applications for licenses at their discretion for former teachers disqualified for committing indecent conduct.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has amended a ministerial ordinance to disclose the reasons for the disqualification of teachers in its gazette, starting in April.

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