Almost 40 per cent of people in Japan who belong to a sexual minority have been sexually harassed or assaulted at some point. This was the result of an online survey with more than 10,000 participants.

The private study was commissioned by Lifenet Insurance Co. and conducted by Yasuharu Hidaka, professor of social epidemiology at Takarazuka University. Between September and December 2019, Hidaka surveyed 10,769 queer people about their experiences of violent and sexual assault, divided into ten different categories of violent and sexual assault.


Worrying results


According to Kyodo News, those who experienced sexual assault were most likely to report sexual assault through physical touching (including the genitals, breasts or hips), at 22.4 per cent. 17.3 per cent reported being sexually harassed through words or actions and 11.5 per cent were “forcibly kissed”. Some respondents also described being mentally raped.



Sorted by group, an equally frightening picture emerges. Fifty-seven percent of all trans* women who participated in the survey reported being sexually assaulted, compared to 52.2 percent of lesbians. Trans* men in Japan are also sexually harassed excessively often – 51.9 percent reported it.

52.8 per cent of victims reported having consulted a psychologist after being severely assaulted. Among those who were otherwise affected, 48.9 per cent sought help. In general, 35.5 percent of all respondents said they regularly visit a psychologist or psychiatrist.



Victims often do not receive help


The survey also revealed that in many cases the authorities refused to provide any help to victims because they belong to a sexual minority group. This represents an additional psychological burden.

The 31-year-old transgender activist and nurse Tomoya Asanuma is one of the people who were hurt by the way the police dealt with him.


About two years ago, Asanuma was sexually assaulted by a man he had just met. After approaching a sexual violence counselling centre to no avail, he went to the police. But the police officers refused to take up a complaint.

Asanuma says the police did not expect someone like him – who changed his registered gender and underwent gender reassignment surgery but whose transition is not yet complete – to come forward. “I was a victim of sexual assault but was further violated because the police did not understand my individual situation,” Asanuma said.



Lack of support services LGBTIQ* people.


For Hidaka, these are not isolated cases. In Japan, he said, there is a fundamental lack of understanding for the problems of the LGBTIQ* community. Police or counselling staff often lack the necessary knowledge in dealing with sexual minorities who have been victims of sexualised violence. Inappropriate reactions can lead to further psychological injuries.

According to Hidaka, there is hardly any help available for men in particular. He therefore calls for better support and counselling services for queer victims. “It is necessary that the government improves its support system to help all sexual minorities, not only women but also male victims,” said Hidaka.

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  • Verzweiflung_Symbolfoto: By Kat Jayne / CC0 /

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