Revised legislation enacted to counter stalking, domestic violence

Japan's parliament on Wednesday enacted revised legislation to counter stalking and domestic violence following a series of high-profile murder cases.

The revised bills on stalking and domestic violence, approved unanimously by the House of Representatives, are expected to take effect in October and January, respectively.

Under the revised legislation, persistently sending e-mails is also considered to constitute stalking, and police and public safety commissions are empowered to issue warnings to suspected perpetrators living in their jurisdictions whose victims reside elsewhere. At present, authorities can only act for victims residing in their jurisdictions.

The revision, the first since the legislation was enacted in 2000, follows the murder of a woman in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture, last year who had received over a thousand e-mails from her ex-boyfriend.

The new law also requires police to inform a victim immediately after they issue a warning. If police decide not to issue a warning, a written statement of explanation must be provided to the victim.

Japanese police recorded 19,920 cases of stalking in 2012, up 36.3 percent from the previous year.

The revised domestic violence law now covers violence inflicted by co-habiting partners, in addition to spouses or ex-spouses.

It also enables victims to receive temporary protection from support centers nationwide and to file for restraining orders.

Earlier this month, the Nagasaki District Court sentenced a man to death for killing two relatives in Nagasaki Prefecture of a woman he had lived with and abused. He is appealing the ruling.

The revision bills were approved by the House of Councillors last Friday.