Japan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985 and was last examined on its report in 2003 by the CEDAW Committee, which reviews government compliance with CEDAW. While in its report the Japanese government recognized that “violence from husbands or partners, sexual crimes, prostitution, sexual harassment and stalking behaviour are grave violations of women’s human rights” the CEDAW Committee expressed concern that Japanese law characterized stalking as “acts to ‘satisfy love or other favourable feelings towards the person,’ or to ‘work off grudges resulting from the failure to satisfy these feelings.’” Such characterizations are rampant in hentai, which include a successful Japanese comic book series called Rape Man, portraying a male teacher who transforms into “superhero” Rape Man by night, raping women in order to settle grudges or “teach them a lesson” for jilting their lovers.
In its general recommendation No. 19 on “violence against women”, the CEDAW Committee confirmed that “[g]ender-based violence is a form of discrimination that seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men.” Specifically, it commented that “traditional attitudes by which women are regarded as subordinate to men or as having stereotyped roles perpetuate widespread practices involving violence or coercion…Such prejudices and practice may justify gender-based violence as a form of protection or control of women…These attitudes also contribute to the propagation of pornography and the depiction and other commercial exploitation of women as sexual objects, rather than as individuals. This in turn contributes to gender-based violence.”
When reporting to the CEDAW Committee, the Japanese government admitted that “the image of women in the media, who were often portrayed as objects either of sex or violence, had a great impact” on gender stereotypes. The CEDAW Committee expressed concern about such stereotypes of women, “the prevalence of violence against women and girls and about women’s apparent reluctance to seek assistance from existing public institutions.” It also noted that “the penalty for rape is relatively lenient.” To prove rape in a court of law in Japan, judges often look at the level of violence perpetrated and/or the degree of resistance put up by the victim rather than whether the woman actually consented to intercourse. http://www.equalitynow.org/english/actions/action_3301_en.html