Sexual Assault or Rape in Japan: How to Seek Help

This guide on reporting sexual assault or rape in Japan is written in hopes that you never need to use it. However, it’s important to be prepared and understand your options, especially in a foreign country.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault or rape in Japan, you may or may not want to report the crime. Deciding to report or reach out for help is a personal choice that’s entirely yours. There are organizations to help you seek justice, whatever that may mean to you.

Important Note 110 alert

Are you in immediate danger? Is a crime taking place or has one just happened? Call 110 now.

Ask for an interpreter (tsuuyaku 通訳) if needed and go to a safe place. Patrol cars will immediately look for the culprit.

Jump to

  1. An overview of your options
  2. English support
  3. What is a koban?
  4. Formal vs. informal reports
  5. How to report
  6. If you don’t want to report it to the police
  7. More resources

An overview of your options

Following an incident, you can either choose to ① report the incident or ② reach out for support from other organizations.

If you want to report the incident, you can do so at a police station or a koban (交番). The police will ask if you want to make a formal or informal report called higaitodoke (被害届) and soudan (相談), respectively. For more information, jump here.

Ⓐ Doing a formal police report means the police will write a full report, which may take several hours to complete.

Ⓑ Making an informal police report means the police will write down what happened, but there won’t be an investigation.

If you don’t report it to the police, you may contact a specialist center for counseling, medical, and legal support. For more information, jump here.

English support

You can choose the following:

・call the Sexual Assault Referral Center Tokyo (SARC) at 03-5607-0799
・call the Japan Legal Support Center at 0570-078377
・request for an interpreter (tsuuyaku 通訳) when you go to the police
・ask a Japanese-speaking friend to accompany you

What is a koban?

A koban is a small neighborhood police outpost. It is the smallest organizational unit within the Japanese police system.

Anyone can visit a koban for issues, such as:

・lost items

・directions

・incidents and accidents

Koban in Japan where you can report an incident

Formal vs. informal reports

Before reporting the incident, many suggest bringing someone from support groups or contacting sexual assault hotlines as they understand the process and will make things smoother for you.

When reporting, you may request an officer who’s the same gender as you and an interpreter (tsuuyaku 通訳) if needed. There are two types of reports you can make and the major differences are the actions the police will take.

Ⓐ Informal report called 相談 (soudan)

・The police will not investigate an informal police report. Instead, they will increase patrol and ask for your assistance if there is a similar crime in the future.
・You can make an informal report in both a koban and a police station.

Ⓑ Formal report called 被害届 (higaitodoke)

・The police will investigate this incident. You may consult a sketch artist, go through a lineup, and write a report, which may take several hours to complete.
・You can start this in a koban, but the police will take you to the police station.

How to report

110 Alert Notice. Call 110 if you are in danger now. If you were just assaulted, call 110. Patrol cars will immediately look for the culprit fitting the given description.

① If the offense recently happened

・Keep the clothes you were wearing and don’t wash them; the police will need them for the investigation.
・Try not to shower as there might be evidence the police can use.

② Visit the nearest police koban or station

・You can ask to speak to an officer who’s the same gender as you.
・You can request an interpreter (tsuuyaku).

③ Explain what happened

・They might ask you to take them to the place you were assaulted to gather evidence, such as security camera footage.

④ Decide on whether you want to submit a formal police report (higaitodoke)

・You can ask for some time to think about this decision.
・You can say no. This means there will be no investigation, but they will increase patrol in the area and request your cooperation if a similar incident in the future occurs.

・If you want to make a formal police report, jump here.
・If you’d prefer an informal report, jump here.

Ⓐ If you want to make a formal police report

A formal police report is a continuation of the process above. It will be done in a police station. They can drive you if needed with the support of an interpreter.

⑤ Take pictures of exactly where the offense happened

⑥ Hand over the clothes you wore at the time to test for potential DNA

⑦ Give a DNA sample that will be destroyed after the case

⑧ Re-enact the incident using a doll

・The doll will represent you and an officer will act as the assailant. You will act as a director off to the side, informing officers how the offense happened.

・Another officer will be taking pictures of the re-enactment.

⑨ Have headshots and bodyshots taken

⑩ Write a full report of exactly what happened

⑪ Sign paperwork confirming everything is correct and that you understand the DNA will be destroyed

Ⓑ If you don’t want to make a formal police report

The process will end at step 4. It’s your choice to not make a formal report. Everyone’s healing journey is unique.

You can dial #8891 (or 098-975-0166) for the closest support center. For those in or near Tokyo, call the Sexual Assault Relief Center Tokyo (SARC) at 03-5607-0799 (24/7) to be connected to a team of qualified and experienced doctors and counsellors for care, support, and professional services.

If you don’t want to report it to the police

If you don’t want to report the sexual assault or rape to the police, you can contact the Sexual Assault Relief Center Tokyo (SARC) at 03-5607-0799 for:

・medical support
・legal support
・language support

In an emergency situation, go to the nearest hospital emergency department or see your doctor.

More resources

If you don’t want to go to the police, you can contact these organizations:

Sexual Assault Relief Center Tokyo (SARC) at 03-5607-0799 (24/7)

・consult the nearest support center by dialing #8891 (or 098-975-0166) (24/7)

TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 (9 AM – 11 PM daily)

St. Luke’s International Hospital (Tokyo) at 03-3550-7166 (8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Mon- Fri)

Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center (“Himawari”) at 03-5285-8181 (9 AM – 8 PM daily)

None of these organizations will make you report the assault to the police unless you want to.

Ultimately, it’s your personal decision on whether to report sexual assault or rape. There’s no all-encompassing approach to heal and move forward. You are not alone.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault or rape in Japan, you’re not alone. You can call the Sexual Assault Relief Center Tokyo (SARC) at 03-5607-0799 (24/7). You will be connected to a team of qualified and experienced doctors and counselors for care, support, and professional services.

Remember: It wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter what you wore, where you went, and whether you knew that person or not.