Harsher punishment for sex crimes passed the Diet in a revision bill on June 16, raising the minimum statutory penalty for rape to five years from three years in prison.

The revision, the first major overhaul of the Criminal Law in 110 years, also removed a clause that defined a perpetrator as male and a victim as female.

In addition, the legislation made it unnecessary for a rape victim to come forward and file a criminal complaint with law enforcement authorities to have them open an investigation. A third party can now file a complaint.

The change is designed to ease a victim's psychological burden.

The revised law, however, retained a provision that evidence must be presented to investigators to show that an act of violence or intimidation by the perpetrator made it extremely difficult for the victim to offer resistance.

Rape victims’ support groups have long criticized the clause as a major hurdle in making a case and demanded it be abolished.

But the legislation allows law enforcement authorities to accuse parents who committed sex offenses against their children under 18, taking advantage of their position, even if violence or intimidation were absent.

(This article was written by Ryujiro Komatsu and Eiji Shimura.)