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Japan outlaws child porn possession, but explicit manga, anime get green light

Law won't apply to sexually explicit manga, anime

Reuters, Kyodo

The Diet voted Wednesday to outlaw possession of child pornography after years of international calls for a crackdown, but the change won’t impact sexually explicit manga and anime depicting young children.

Japan is the last OECD nation to criminalize possession of child pornography, although it outlawed production and distribution in 1999, and has long been considered a safe haven for those buying child pornography.

“For too long, there was a poor understanding of children’s rights. Ultimately, that’s why it’s taken so long,” said Kiyohiko Toyama, a member of New Komeito and a proponent of the bill. “By outlawing the possession of child pornography with the intent to satisfy sexual interest, we make it harder for people to trade in such material.”

The new law, however, excludes an original clause calling for a study into the effects of pornographic manga involving young children, after publishers and opposition lawmakers said it could lead to curbs on free speech.

Masatada Tsuchiya of the Liberal Democratic Party supported the bill but said he was disappointed.

“I believed we should go a step further and take a look at manga and anime in which children are sexually abused,” he said, citing a case in which a child murder suspect was found to own dozens of explicit manga depicting children.

“Of course freedom of expression is important. And I love manga. But some of the things out there are so depraved they aren’t worth defending,” he said.

National data show a rise in child pornography crimes, with police uncovering 1,644 cases last year, around 10 times more than a decade ago. More than half of the cases involved sharing or selling photos or videos over the Internet, police said.

The widespread use of smartphones is apparently behind the increased number, a National Police Agency official said, noting that in 318 cases, or about 40 percent of the total, victims in such crimes sent their photos to perpetrators.

Lawmakers said the new legislation should help the police crack down on child pornography as buyers can be held and questioned, possibly leading them to other collectors as well as distributors and manufacturers.

The law is due to take effect next month. Those found guilty will face imprisonment of up to a year or a fine of up to ¥1 million, although such punishment will not be enforced in the first year.

Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said he hopes it will also help change a culture of tolerating objectification of children.

“We must fight against a tendency of looking at children as sexual objects, and allowing them to be taken advantage of, sexually and commercially,” he said in Diet testimony on Tuesday, the day before the Upper House officially voted to adopt the bill.

The Lower House passed it earlier in the month.

Japan’s fascination with young women as sexual objects is apparent from a quick glance through bookstores and subway ads featuring “junior idols,” as child models are known. The new law does not apply to most such images.

More explicit and often violent content is available online. A small portion of Japan’s manga and anime market includes graphic, sexual depictions of children, including stories of incest.

Even without the clause on manga, however, publishers said they are still against the revised law. Some opposition lawmakers also voted against it, saying it could lead to police overreach.

“This could lead to a regression in freedom of expression and put a strain on artists and the publishing culture. This cannot be accepted,” the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, representing more than 90 publishing companies, said in a statement on its website.

Lawyer Yuri Kawamura, who serves as deputy chairwoman of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations’ panel on children’s rights, said the definition of child pornography is still unclear under the revised law, and that investigative authorities might abuse the revised law.

  • george

    Look at the definition of CP here in the west,people look at women and men as
    sexual objects,so maybe we as humans should stop having sex!
    Allot of CP on smart phones is made by kids and adolescents themselves,and
    since the definition of CP can be nude/semi nude there’s rather allot of it.

    how are kids abused in magna it’s a f*****g cartoon!
    lets see how many adult murderer’s have adult porn on their computer,what does that tell you about anything? how many people look at porn?
    so something should be banned because someone thinks it’s depraved,who get’s to decide what’s depraved? HITLER thought the jew’s were depraved too!
    have they forgot about the MILTON DIAMOND study conducted in japan and part’s of europe,when child porn was relaxed,sexual assaults on real kids went down,so maybe this will have a negative long tearm affect,look at america,look how draconian the sex offender’s register is there,all this because of a false belief that
    all kid’s are not sexual,and can never consent bullsh*t.

  • ANON

    Just because one guy had such items in his possession doesn’t mean that all who read such things have the potential to be child abusers or murderers. Obviously, child porn itself should be illegal – because real children are involved, often without consent or understanding – but manga and anime is different. Such things are bought by adults who understand what is and isn’t wrong (whether morally or society’s standards). Those people who have the potential to commit such crimes as child abuse would do so with or without manga.

    On another note, I’ve watched a fair amount of anime and have never seen sexual abuse of children – unless you consider sexual innuendo between teenagers (15 and up) and some partial nudity to be child abuse. Honestly, I love the fact that Japan seems so free regarding things of a sexual nature, because such things are a natural part of life that we shouldn’t feel ashamed of.

    • george

      such things are a natural part of life…child sexuality is also part of life,It’s
      just japan denies that the least.

  • Max Erimo

    A law with no teeth, just for show. Much like the stalking law in Japan.

  • itoshima2012

    guess its because those guys in the Diet are all damn perverts…

  • tesmith47

    that is interesting that 40 % of the cell phone child porn is sent by the children, maybe the children should be arrested too!!!

  • Willie Crespo

    While I do agree that sexualizing women of any age in any media for the sake of “fanservice” is pointless and wrong, jumping to this conclusion that Anime plays a part in these crimes is pretty damn stupid.

    This is EXACTLY like the “do violent video games cause violent in real life?” discussion. We are at the point where the media likes to blame something that is (sometimes) completely unrelated for a person’s crime, which often overshadows the crime itself, rather than just saying straight up that the person who caused the crime is screwed up in the head and needs serious help. I think that a larger majority of people know the difference between fantasy and reality and do not have the child-like “monkey see, monkey do” mindset.

    I also do not see why the west is being overly biased about this, acting like Japan is the bad guy here and that nobody else does this, as our fictional media isn’t exactly very kind to the youth either. There have been many comic books, movies, and novels where young women have been in erotic situations. Heck, kids in general in very gruesome, vulgar, and adult situations is often common on adult television, with shows like South Park and Family Guy, which, in especially South Park’s case, has had even worse and more gruesome things happen to even YOUNGER children! How many times has Kenny, a TEN YEAR OLD, brutally died onscreen?!

    • george

      Family guy is great-)