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Japan to finally outlaw possession of child porn, but manga gets free pass

AFP-JIJI, JIJI

A ban on the possession of child pornography came a step closer on Wednesday, but it would exclude pedophilia portrayed in manga.

Japan is the last major developed country to address the possession of child porn. Under current law, only production and distribution are banned, a situation that activists say is damaging to children.

The Lower House Judicial Affairs Committee discussed a bill to expand the scope of the legislation on Wednesday and was expected to send it on to the chamber later in the day. The House of Representatives is expected to swiftly pass the bill and move it to the upper chamber for a vote before the current Diet session ends June 22.

The bill would ban possession of photos and videos depicting real children, but would exclude manga and anime following calls to protect freedom of expression.

Anyone found guilty of possessing the material could face up to a year in prison or a maximum fine of ¥1 million. To give people a chance to throw away such material, the penalties would be delayed for one year after the revised law takes effect.

Campaigners against child pornography have long urged Japan to outlaw the possession of sexually explicit images of children. Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations where the possession of child pornography remains legal. Such material is banned and subject to penalties in more 70 countries worldwide.

Japan is seen as a major global source of child pornography in photo and video form. At present, it’s legal to possess images that show real children being abused, raped and molested, according to activists.

Police data show that the number of child pornography victims hit a record 646 in 2013, but this includes only minors who have been identified. The actual number is believed to be much higher.

Japan’s porn industry is huge and foreign visitors note the ubiquity of sexual imagery showing young-looking girls in school uniforms. While it is unusual to see people in Japan openly reading pedophilic manga in public, mainstream comic books read by commuters sometimes contain sexualized images that many Westerners find unpalatable.

  • Charlie Maib

    Ah, you hit the nail on the head in that last paragraph…

    “While it is unusual to see people in Japan openly reading pedophilic manga in public, mainstream comic books read by commuters sometimes contain sexualized images that many Westerners find unpalatable.”

    …so this is less about what’s good for Japan and more about Japan kowtowing to the whims of the Western world, still hellbent on shaping Japan in their image.

    (As a side note, while 646 child pornography victims are 646 too many, I’d be interested to see the numbers coming out of America for how many victims of child pornography they had last year. Child pornography has been illegal for years and years there, yet that hasn’t seemed to stop it.)

    • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

      “As a side note, while 646 child pornography victims are 646 too many,
      I’d be interested to see the numbers coming out of America for how many
      victims of child pornography they had last year. Child pornography has
      been illegal for years and years there, yet that hasn’t seemed to stop
      it.”

      Are you implying that it’s pointless to make child pornography illegal in Japan?

      • Charlie Maib

        What I’m saying is, it’s already illegal to manufacture, sell, or distribute child pornography in Japan. If those three things are illegal, then making possession illegal as well seems kind of pointless.

        As we can see with speeding, stealing, violence, murder, and yes, child pornography, these things are all illegal; yet people still do illegal things every day. Making more things illegal doesn’t solve the problem.

        Instead of making more things against the law, I would have been more pleased to see people coming together to work out viable solutions to fix the problem, which, I don’t think, is more laws that don’t seem to dissuade the people who want to do the illegal thing anyway.

        It seems as far as illegality goes, we expend so much energy on being reactionary instead of digging to the root cause and fixing the problem there. That’s what I’m saying.

      • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

        “It seems as far as illegality goes, we expend so much energy on being
        reactionary instead of digging to the root cause and fixing the problem
        there. That’s what I’m saying.”

        I could see that. I have that attitude towards drugs. And unless Japan has an invasive level of internet monitoring, they aren’t likely to catch people that merely possess child pornography.

      • Charlie Maib

        I agree. How do you inforce that? Weekly visits by the police to scan your computer and rife through your home?

  • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

    This is good. It’s addressing something that’s an actual problem and not interfering with the state of manga. As an American, I personally enjoy the lack of prudishness in Japan. I always look forward to getting my latest issue of Comic LO in the mail each month.

    • Hanten

      They may be manga but Comic LO shows lots of very young girls, many of them appear to under 17. These characters are often forced into sexual situations that would be illegal in real life even if they were adults. Reading these may well encourage more pedophiliac acts. I think manga that sexualizes children should be banned, too.

  • itoshima2012

    The problem is the internet… very dark indeed…… all sorts of deviated material can be found, truly disgusting…

  • Star

    I really hope this law goes ahead. Pedophiles who possess child porn need to understand that they are participating in an act that is hurting children!

  • martaz

    A TERRIBLY insensitive photo. How dare you do that to the poor man,implying he is a child pornographer. Shame on you! I hope he sues you.

  • Max Erimo

    Sick, just very sick. It shows how little regard the Japanese politicians place on the important things. Let’s build roads to nowhere, change the constitution, collective defence etc etc.
    What about protecting the innocents.
    Shame on the politicians. Shame on the public for allowing them to do such a shocking job.

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  • fvckoffallah

    Possessing of any info should not be illegal. Info is just info. It depends what value people put to that info. But it is just those peoples’ opinion. If people say that info with beaten/murdered kids is ok to possess while info with sexual acts with kids is not ok to possess – it is their personal opinion that sex is worse than violence/murders. But why should i care what opinion they have regarding to the question what info i can consume? Normally one mammal should not have right to point to another mammal what info he thinks is appropriate to consume and what info is not. It is censorship of accepting of information which is unacceptable. I agree that people have right to censor distribution of some information, but people have no right to ban (noncommercial) consumption of any information. 50 yrs ago West said that gays are bad, while possessing and even distribution of child porn was ok. Now vice versa they say that gays are good but possession of some info is bad. And they demand everybody should instantly agree with what they think is right today. Sadly most people do not think in terms what rights one mammal has over another mammal. My point is that nobody has right to say me what info i can or cannot consume – i have my own brain for that. You have right to walk naked in gay pride but you have no right to construct personal opinion on some topics basing on relative information. Brilliant. Well maybe you should go further and ban possession of all obscene porn like in UK or ban possession of manuals like “How to make a bomb” like in the same “enlightened” in human rights UK. Because this info is too bad for you to know, your brain wont cope with it and Big Brother always knows better what you can and cannot see.

  • Rin Satsu

    No, it doesn’t. It’s exactly the same as violent video games or hardcore porn; it gives people an outlet so they don’t go hurting real people. Precisely the reason rape and violent crime rates have plummeted in recent years.

    If there is no victim, there is no crime. Let people do what they want, as long as they’re not hurting anyone. The moment there is actually someone being harmed or violated, you have your crime & criminal.