Subjected to a striking number of sexual violence cases on and off campus in recent times, some university students have begun signature-collection campaigns to petition their schools to deliver a safe learning environment.
However, the response from universities has been muted, despite reports of the sexual harassment of job seekers and assaults at club activities and parties.
Experts have pointed to the need for young men to understand what "sexual consent" is so that instances of sexual assault are reduced. They urged universities to play an active role in educating students.
Although some Keio University students were arrested for crimes of a sexual nature in recent years, the prestigious university has responded only with a statement released last November calling the arrests "very regrettable" without putting forth any concrete solutions aimed at preventing further assaults.
Koyo Tani, 22, a fourth-year student at the university started a petition drive in May requesting the university to provide preventative education for students and other countermeasures. Supported by some members of faculty, the effort garnered about 900 signatures.
In June, student volunteers organized a symposium to prevent sex crimes on campus, to which a lawyer and activists were invited as speakers. Following the move, the university said that countermeasures were "currently under consideration."
(Sachiko Osawa, co-founder of "Chabudai Gaeshi Jyoshi Action" (Action by ladies who flip tables), a Tokyo-based grassroots feminist organization established in 2015)
"Compared to the warnings about excessive drinking, the university has not taken the initiative in highlighting sexual violence," Tani said.
Yumemi Morikawa, 21, another fourth-year student at Keio, agreed that more can be done. "There needs to be a place where students who have been victims (of sexual violence) on or off campus can feel safe talking to someone," she said.
At Soka University, the student club "BeLive Soka" has been working to prevent sexual violence on campus since 2017. In January, the group called on the university to hold workshops to educate students on sexual consent, submitting more than 2,000 signatures to the president.
As a result, the workshops held at some faculties taught students that sexually targeted behavior without consent of the other party is considered violence.
Through debates and role-playing, participants deepened their understanding of topics such as "what would make you uncomfortable if done to you?"
A section on sexual consent was also included in the university handbook distributed to all freshmen.
"We want as many people as possible to understand the importance of sexual consent," said 20-year-old Anzu Ichikawa, a third-year student at the university.
In June, another symposium was organized at Sophia University by student groups from seven schools, including Keio and Soka, where the students exchanged opinions.
"Chabudai Gaeshi Jyoshi Action" (Action by ladies who flip tables), a Tokyo-based grassroots feminist organization established in 2015, raises awareness about the importance of building relationships on mutual respect and the significance of sexual consent.
The group's name uses the reference to "chabudai gaeshi," or flipping a table, which for many Japanese has a connotation with an angry father turning the small traditional table over in a rage. For the group, the name represents the flipping of oppressive structures and norms, they say.
According to co-founder Sachiko Osawa, 28, education on sexual consent became common at many universities in the United States after the scale of the problem of sexual violence became more widely understood around 2011.
"In Japan as well, students have raised their voices and initiatives to create a safe campus are spreading. For students, a safe environment is a legitimate right. I want to see many people get involved," Osawa said.