Cheating and adultery are one of the leading causes of divorces and break-ups. No one wants to be cheated on, and for those who do the cheating, the thrill of sneaking around and trying not to get caught is sure to spur some adulterers on. However, at what point is what you are doing considered cheating? For most people, sex is certainly cheating, and kissing someone other than your partner is crossing the line. But is having dinner with someone cheating? Is having lunch? Is spending significant time with someone cheating?
An Osaka judge has drawn a new line in the sand for what is considered adultery in Japan, with one woman suing not her husband but his “mistress”, despite the fact that there was no intercourse involved.
This past March, a startling judicial ruling came down in the Osaka district court. A wife, who was suspicious of her husband and his female colleague, went to trial seeking compensation from the “mistress”. The judge ruled that the female colleague was indeed a “mistress” despite the husband and the other woman never having sexual relations. The defendant was ordered to pay 440,000 yen (US$4,400) in restitution.
The uniqueness of this case was two-fold. First, it is quite rare for a wife to sue the mistress in Japan. Cases where a woman sues the other woman are few and far between. Secondly, cases where restitution was rewarded even though there was no sex involved are even less common.
While the husband worked for a pharmaceutical company in Osaka, he took frequent trips to Tokyo, where he met his female colleague. At first, the husband pursued a sexual relationship with the woman, but was rebuffed as she stated, “I don’t go after married men.” The two continued to meet during his trips to Tokyo. They classified their friendship as a “purely platonic relationship”, despite playing badminton together at the gym, and attending fireworks festivals together – something that many Japanese consider to be an especially romantic date.
The man’s wife quickly became suspicious, and she gathered enough evidence to take the mistress to court.
Although the court ruled that “there is not enough evidence to prove they were in a sexual relationship,” the adulterous couple “have to acknowledge that they went beyond a suitable friendship between a man and a woman,” and that it was an immoral relationship. Sakura Shimada, a lawyer from the Adire Law Firm was quoted saying, “When there isn’t a sexual relationship, it is very rare that you can claim compensation for damages. But, going forward, even when the situation is reversed, as in, a husband suing the wife’s paramour, if you cause damage to the ‘harmonious’ relationship of husband and wife, despite a non-sexual relationship, you can seek restitution.”
This ruling seems like a win, though plenty of times extramarital affairs, including those that don’t involve sex, can put a strain on the well-being of involved parties. The notary public seems to agree. “Even if there isn’t restitution for adultery, the two of them meeting, as they were, it’s just better if they avoided that kind of relationship. Moreover, with this ruling, the judge has correlated a ’cause and effect’ due to the cold manner which the wife felt from the relationship of the other two. In each other’s homes, we should endeavor to preserve the harmonious husband/wife relationship and better connect with our spouses.”
With this ruling in Osaka, many unhappy spouses may start looking into their own dysfunctional relationships and attempt to claim monetary settlements. For, in a country with paramours abound, you can be sure this will not be the last of these kinds of cases. One wonders though, what sort of damages does $4,400 cover?