Tokyo deputy governor, Yutaka Takehana, the city's top law-and-order official, has proposed a law to make parents in the city legally responsible for keeping their school-age children from having sex. The legal age of consent in Tokyo is already 18. However, 20% to 30% of Japanese 16-year-olds have had sex, and almost one quarter of these have had four or more partners, said Masako Kihara, an AIDS expert and an associate professor at Kyoto University. At least one third of Japan's new HIV cases in 2003 occurred in people under age 29. In addition to HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases also are on the rise among young people.
The proposed law was discussed Wednesday when a panel of experts met to discuss strategies for dealing with Japan's increasingly sexually active young people. Even if no penalties were attached to it, such a law "would convey the determination of adult society" to prevent youth sex, Kyodo News Agency quotes Takehana as saying. But other government officials say such a law is unlikely to be passed. "Certainly, enforcement would be difficult," said one Tokyo official. "I imagine that the idea of a law will be vetoed." (Reuters)