Civil Liberties

Japanese teens live under a government which by law protects the freedom of expression. There are no qualifiers in Japanese law, unlike some European countries who restrict speech regarding Holocaust denial, very akin to their former occupier, the US.

While there is no national dress code, though there is a dress code for most Middle and High Schools.

Furthermore, “Japanese of all faiths can worship freely.”

Education System

The Japanese education system is one of the most demanding in the world, in result producing an extremely educated population. Japanese literacy rates stand above 99 percent, ranking top five worldwide, an extremely impressive figure taking into account the tremendous difficulty involved in learning to read and write the Japanese language. The school system makes school compulsory through 9th grade (or the end of Junior High), though more than 97 percent of students continuing onto high school, with about 2 percent entering the work force.

While very successful in training employees to contribute to one of the world’s strongest economies, the school is also relatively rigid. For example, dating is forbidden in Junior High. There is a general dress code for most Middle and High Schools in which boys must wear shirts and slacks while girls must wear blazers, skirts, and blouses.

The education system of Japan is among the most meritocratic in the world. It gives all students a chance to enter into Japan’s most elite schools, providing that they score high enough on national examinations. However, there are distinct advantages that wealth provides, including highly paid tutors and entry into the best two to three hour-long juku cram schools.

A major consequence of the emphasis put on meritocracy is the importance of national exams. These tests are heavily used in comparing students’ abilities for admission. Also, entrance to the elite High Schools in Japan is seen as vital for a successful life, especially because the top colleges recruit almost entirely from the nation’s top ten High Schools. As a result, there is an extremely large amount of pressure put on Middle School students, mainly for them to study hard and do very well. Widely referred to as “examination hell,” a common saying in Japan is “Yontou-goraku,” or “four-pass, five-fail,” signifying that in order to succeed, one must not sleep more than four hours a night. This, coupled with other pressures, spawns the “school allergy,” where children feel too much pressure and try to (like many other children around the world) get out of school and study for the day.


Rights of Age

Suffrage is granted in Japan at the age of twenty.

The drinking age is also twenty, and both purchasing and consuming is banned for those under twenty.

Japan does not employ conscription.


Women’s Rights

Abortions are legal if performed to “save the life of the mother, preserve the physical and mental health of the mother, in cases of rape or incest, if there is a defect in the child, for social of economic reasons,” yet abortions are not available on demand. Unlike other countries, counseling is not provided, and for most Japanese it is assumed that the mother will not have to undergo a “moral dilemma” in deciding to have an abortion. The “Morning-After” Pill is available, yet not over the counter.

Women have the same educational opportunities as men, yet have extra challenges in getting hired. Also, there are a large amount of cases involving sexual harassment in the workplace, making it a serious problem in Japan.

Health, Sexuality, and Dating Habits

Much of the sexual repression seen in the Western world brought on by Christianity is diminished.  Foreigners sometimes leave Japan with the impression of it being a hypersexed country, due among other things to its prostitution industry and prevalence of anime pornography read openly in public.  The selling of sex is only illegal when contact of genitals is involved.

While the national age of consent in Japan is suprisingly only 13, many local laws raise this age to as high as 17.  Furthermore, the “Enjo Kōsai” (compensated dating) industry in which teenage girls go on dates with and ocassionally perform sexual favors on older men worries some, yet most Japanese do not consider this anywhere near to prostitution.

Due to the importance the Japanese culture puts on high school eduation, Japanese teens feel heavy pressure from school and family to refrain from dating until college.

Though only 2% of the world’s population, Japan accounts for 10% of worldwide condom consumption. The use of condoms as contraceptives is most common in Japan.

As Shinto, the national religion, has no concept of “sin,” the Japanese do not have the same “guilt complexes” as in many Western countries with Western religions that emphasize more self-consciousness concerning sin and guilt.

“Although Japanese culture has in its history a tradition of sexual love between men, and tolerates the expression of affection for the same sex at most levels of society, the contemporary Japanese attitude toward homosexuality is in general very negative. ” Gay bars are somewhat prevalent in Tokyo.

Lesbianism, or female homosexuality, has a much less accepted status than male homosexuality. It is much more common for there to be openly homosexual men than women. Also, in the Japanese media there is much more representation of male homosexuality than female homosexuality.

Sources Used:







Freedom of Expression in the 21st Century (by Robert Trager, Donna L Kickerson, Donna L Dickerson)










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