Japan's Lower House passes sex offender screening bill for protecting children

The Lower House of Japan's Diet has passed a bill aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse. The bill would allow background checks of sex crime records for job seekers in child-rearing sectors.

The plenary session of the lower chamber unanimously approved the legislation, known as the Japanese version of Britain's Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS, on Thursday. It was sent to the Upper House for deliberations.

When enacted, it would allow the operators of schools and other children's facilities to seek information on job-seekers' sex crime convictions from the Justice Ministry.

Access to the records would be made via the Children and Families Agency.

Schools, day nurseries, welfare facilities for children and other certified institutions would be obliged to carry out the checks.

The bill spells out specific sex offenses to be covered. The crimes include sex without consent and violations of the law relating to child pornography.

When those convicted are given prison terms, their records would be accessible for 20 years after they serve their sentences.

A Lower House special committee had earlier approved a supplementary resolution for the bill. It calls for considering a possible expansion of the scope of specified sex crimes to include underwear theft and stalking.

The resolution also calls for further discussion on extending the period for accessing records and screening of freelance workers such as home tutors and babysitters.