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Standing Up for Stalking Victims in Japan

Forty-nine different groups that campaign to end violence against women came together and made a joint statement [ja] on November 19, 2012 calling for concrete measures to support stalking victims and prevent homicide by stalkers.

The statement was made after an incident on November 6 in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, where a woman was stabbed and killed by her ex-boyfriend, who later turned out to be a stalker.

The website of Network to Create Sexual Violence Prohibition Act [ja] writes about the case:

報道によれば、神奈川の事件の被害女性は、事件前に計4回警察に相談し、2011年9月、加害者は脅迫罪で懲役1年執行猶予3年の有罪判決を受けていたということです。しかし、今年3月下旬、約20日間に1089件ものメールが届いたことで被害者が再相談した際には、
・ストーカー規制法にメールを禁じる明文規定がない
・メールの文面に「殺す」というような文言がなかった
ということで、逗子署は、ストーカー規制法違反にも脅迫罪にも当たらないと誤った判断をして、捜査を終了したということです。

According to the report, the victim had asked police for help four times before she was killed. Prior to the incident, the perpetrator was convicted for 1 year imprisonment and three years probation on charges against intimidation. However he continued to stalk her after was suspended out. When the victim asked the police for further investigation in late March this year, after receiving 1089 emails in 20 days, the police turned down the victim's request for the following reasons;

  • anti-stalking law does not include a word to ban emails
  • No sentence that indicates “killing” was found in the emails

For the above reasons, the police had decided not to investigate the stalker since it neither meets anti-stalking laws nor intimidation charges.

The groups seek fundamental change in recognition of stalking activity by police in the following statement:

1.全ての警察官を対象に、ストーカー事件を始めとする女性に対する暴力事案について、犯罪の本質を理解するための特別研修を実施すること。研修の実施に当たっては、被害当事者や支援者など、警察外部の講師を招聘すること。

2.ストーカー事件を始めとする女性に対する暴力事案について、被害者の安全を守るための具体的で実効性のある捜査マニュアルを作成し、全ての警察官に携帯させること。

3.つきまとい行為にメールを明文化することはもちろんのこと、被害者が申し立てることによって接近禁止命令が出されるようにするなど、被害者の安全を守ることができるようにストーカー規制法を抜本的に改正すること。

4、DV防止法の対象を「配偶者等」と拡大し、恋人、元恋人などの交際相手を含めること。ストーカー事案についても、保護命令及び緊急一時保護の制度を活用できるようにすること。

5、「探偵業の適正化に関する法律」の第六条(探偵業務の実施の原則)「この法律により他の法令において禁止又は制限されている行為を行うことができることとなるものではないことに留意するとともに、人の生活の平穏を害する等個人の権利利益を侵害することがないようにしなければならない」について、ストーカーやDV加害者からの依頼によって被害者の居所を探してはならないことを徹底すること。

  1. All police officers should take a special seminar to understand the nature of crime against women such as stalking. The seminar should be arranged with lecturer outside the police such as a victim, survivors, and supporters.
  2. Publish an effective operating manual for cases of violence against women including stalking activities, to ensure the safety of the aggrieved party. This manual should be carried and kept at all times by all police officers.
  3. Email should be included as an act of stalking, and a prohibition order should be made by police on request of the aggrieved party, banning stalkers from approach their victims. Drastic change is needed in anti-stalking control law to ensure the safety of aggrieved party.
  4. Domestic Violence Prevention Law should extend its subject from “spouses” to “spouses and etc” so that it can include people in an unmarried relationship and formerly in relationships. Cases of stalking should be allowed to use protection order and urgent temporary protection system.
  5. Article 6 of the Act on Regulation of Private Detective Services defines “detective activities should be within the scope of other laws and should not violate interest of individuals who wish to lead a peaceful life”. Private detective services should be made clear that they should not reveal the address of stalking victim on request of stalker or abuser.

When the murderer was arrested for intimidation in June this year, the police read the full name of the victim (who was now married) as well as her new address out loud, which could have possibly helped the murderer trace her home after marriage. (In Japan, most women change their family name to that of their husband's family name after marriage.)

The murderer used an online forum to ask more than 400 questions using three different accounts. Some of his questions [ja] included “where can I buy a sharp kitchen knife“, ” what happens if a murderer commits a suicide before being arrested“, “how do I get to Kotsubo area in Zushi city by bus?”

The murderer hanged himself after he stabbed the victim to death.

Thumbnail image by Keiko Tanaka
  • diegocasaes

    Dear Keiko,

    thanks for taking the time to write about this important issue in Japan. But I do have a questions.

    In the first quote I see this line:

    According to the report, the victim had asked police for help four times before she was killed. Prior to the incident, the perpetrator was convicted for 1 year imprisonment and three years probation on charges against intimidation. However he continued to stalk her after was suspended out. When the victim asked the police for further investigation in late March this year, after receiving 1089 emails in 20 days, the police turned down the victim’s request for the following reasons;

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, and I think something is missing between “after” and “was” – can you help clarify that?

    Thanks!

    • Keiko Tanaka

      Hi Diego,

      Thank you for a good question.

      What happened was that the man was under probation, but he sent massive amount of emails to the woman, and this was not noticed by officers who are assigned to look after the man. Because of that, news wire and national papers reported that there are chances that the the man might have been revoked (of probation period). However this is not clear (no further reports available) whether he was suspended out or not. So maybe I should take out “However he continued to stalk her after was suspended out”for clarity.

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