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Landmark ruling in favor of victimized porn actress paves way for others to quit, lawyers say

by

Staff Writer

A recent landmark court ruling in favor of a porn actress desperate to quit the industry paves the way for others to cut ties with the world of commercial sex without fear of penalties, lawyers said Tuesday.

They said the ruling also deals a blow to the county’s largely unsupervised porn video business.

In what the lawyers say is the first legal case of its kind, the Tokyo District Court in early September dismissed a lawsuit filed by a porn production company against a woman in her 20s in which it claimed more than ¥24 million in damages after she suddenly declared she would end her contract.

The ruling in favor of the woman was finalized Friday after the firm decided not to appeal, Kazuko Ito, acting for the woman, said.

Originally an aspiring TV talent, the woman, whose identity has been withheld to protect her privacy, decided to terminate her contract with the company after being forced to appear in a number of obscene job assignments while still a minor and in a porn film once she was an adult.

In the ruling, presiding Judge Katsuya Hara said shooting a porn film, which inevitably necessitates actors and actresses being involved in sex, “must not be conducted against their will.” The women was, therefore, legally able to end her contract with the plaintiff.

“That the court declared companies are not allowed to make people engage in sex without their consent is a strong message against sexual exploitation of women, and will hopefully spark a move toward establishing legislation against such an industry,” Ito told a news conference in Tokyo.

Ito described the ruling as “groundbreaking” in that people will no longer have to film porn videos if they find it unacceptable, regardless of what their initial contract states.

Japan, often criticized for its lukewarm attitude toward curbing child pornography and sex trafficking involving teen girls, does not have a law to regulate, or a governmental entity to supervise, the porn video business, Ito said. She emphasized the need for a legislative effort against the business.

The woman welcomed the ruling, but said her ordeal was far from over.

“Even though the trial is over, there are challenges mounting ahead. Once distributed all over the Internet, the films I appeared in are now hardly ‘deletable,’ no matter how desperately I want to forget about them,” she said in a statement.

“I’m fearful someone I know may come across them at any time. Living like this forever is a pain and I will never forgive the industry.”

According to Ito and activists involved in rescuing the victim, she signed a contract with the porn production company while still a high school student after being approached by a recruiter on the street with the promise she would become a TV star.

Unsuspecting, she signed the paper peppered with legal jargon that included no mention of pornography, only to find herself ensnared in a number of unpaid obscene job assignments.

At one point, she expressed her wish to quit, but the company threatened to charge her for planned videos allegedly worth about ¥2.2 million per work and divulge her activities to her parents. Her request for a copy of the contract went unheeded.

Once she turned 20, the company arranged for her to appear in a porn film.

Naked and terrorized by the gaze of the shooting crew, she was forced into sex with men she had never met — her complaint of a severe vaginal pain being ignored — before she began to contemplate suicide.

Setsuko Miyamoto, a representative of People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence (PAPS), said cases like this were becoming increasingly common in recent years.

Since 2012, her organization has dealt with 93 cases involving porn actresses and actors desperate to quit the industry, with many victimized by rape and a debilitating blow to their self-esteem, she said.

  • Blether

    “When mummies’ boys attack”

  • zer0_0zor0

    This doesn’t make much sense. How could that company get away with recruiting a high school girl like that and threatening to tell her parents without being criminally liable?

    Obviously the police should be investigating the company, and the young woman should now be suing them.

    • http://chriswoods.co.uk/ Chris Woods

      And if this is the tip of the iceberg, I hope this ruling prompts more people to step forward and raise awareness of their own situations. If they’ve been forced into, essentially, videotaped prostitution against their will, that’s inexcusable.

    • http://chriswoods.co.uk/ Chris Woods

      And if this is the tip of the iceberg, I hope this ruling prompts more people to step forward and raise awareness of their own situations. If they’ve been forced into, essentially, videotaped prostitution against their will, that’s inexcusable.

    • Jonathan Fields

      Hahahaha. Like the police care in the slightest about this girl and her family. You do realize that the police in Japan are basically yakuza, right? Every wheel is greased.

      That’s how Kyoto’s Gion district can be basically 50% brothels and you never ever see a raid, but clubs in that area that dare to allow dancing past 1AM are quickly shuttered. It’s a joke.

      • zer0_0zor0

        To a certain degree, prostitution is defacto legalized in Japan.

      • Jonathan Fields

        “To a certain degree”? Anything but coital intercourse is de jure OK, and all intercourse is de facto OK. You can order an 18-year-old girl like a pizza.

        They’re having regular intercourse in those clubs in Gion and the police don’t bat an eye. I wonder wh¥ the¥ don’t sa¥ an¥thing… That was what I was getting at.

  • Terry

    If we get past the “porn is evil and must be banned” state of mind, this ruling is a net loss for Japan and the women it intends to help.

    I don’t know the specifics of Japanese law, but generally minors are not allowed to enter into contracts. I suspect she was over 20 before a contract was signed. And once she entered into a contract it shouldn’t matter what the contract specified. In the US the civil lawsuit is for “Specific Performance”. Like the name implies that means one party demands the other fulfill their obligations as set out in the contract. Without the ability to compel someone to honor their commitments modern society breaks down.

    Removing the porn industry’s protections under the law will NOT have the desired effect. Rather than allowing women to renege on their responsibilities, which seems like the desired outcome, it will bring in organized crime and human slavery. That is not hyperbole. This is the observed worldwide outcome 100% of the time when the rule of law breaks down. Basically if my lawyer can’t make you honor your word, this big man with a baseball bat can. It really is just that simple.

    • blondein_tokyo

      You say you suspect she was over 20 when she signed the contract. This is in direct contradiction to the story, which says she was a high school student. Your statement seems to imply that you somehow know more about the situation than the people involved in the case, including the plaintiff, lawyers and judge, but I don’t think that’s reasonable. The judge rules that since she signed it as a minor, and was forced to continue under duress, the contract was illegal – which means she was not obligated in any way to honor it.

      The problem is that the pornography business isn’t regulated, so minors are easily able to work (on soft porn as well as hard porn) illegally. It’s also not uncommon for women, particularly young, inexperienced women, to be threatened with exposure (to family or their company) or even bodily harm to force them to comply to demands that slowly become more unreasonable and extreme demands.
      The solution, then, isn’t continuing to force the women to honor these illegal contracts, but to prevent those contracts from being made in the first place. That is, to better regulate the porn industry.
      There is a DIRE need here to better oversee the AV industry in Japan. I just happen to have some firsthand knowledge here, so I can tell you from personal experience that women are often treated VERY poorly, and producers and directors use underhanded tactics and sometimes even threaten violence to control women in order to maximize their profits. Sometimes its simply pushing them beyond their boundaries, and sometimes its outright abuse and rape. This can’t continue. Japan’s record on sex trafficking and other human rights abuses in the area of sex work is absolutely appalling, considering that Japan is supposed to be a first world country.

      • tisho

        As all people will socialist mentalities, you want the government to step in and forcefully ”fix” the problem. If you examine the situation closely and compare this type of issue with other similar issues that have occur in the past and the government have tried to ”fix” it, you will see, or rather you should but will not see because you are a socialist, that every time the gov. steps in with more regulations the problem becomes much worse. First of all, the OP assumed she was at least 20, because if she was a minor, then this should not even have become such a big problem because minors cannot sign a legal contract with a company, therefore she should be free to walk about and the company should be afraid to speak out. Second of all, you said ”minors are recruited to work illegally and that’s why the gov. must step in to regulate the crap out of them”. You are a typical socialist who want to live my life for me, and tell me what i can and cannot do with my own body. If a minor is recruited illegally, then that is already a violation of the law, isn’t it? it means there already is a law preventing minors from being recruited. So, let’s see what happens. A minor is not allowed by the gov. to sign a legal contract with a company, so when that minor herself wants to work for a AV company, but knows she is a minor, what does she do? She sign a non-binding contract or just a verbal agreement and gets to work for the company illegally. So, now when she decides she doesn’t want to work anymore there, she wants to leave, but the company doesn’t want to let her go, and what can the minor do? If the AV company threatens to expose her to her friends or something, she can’t go to the police because first of all she is afraid that the AV company will show her images, second of all, there isn’t a legal binding contract, so the company can very easily escape any legal responsibility. This is the same issue with the war on drugs. When the drugs are illegal, and one individuals buy a drug from the black market, and there is something wrong with the drug and the man wants his money back, what can that guy do? He can’t go to the police because the whole exchange was illegal, so the only way so get his money back or solve the problem is by violence. If it was legal to buy a drug, you could easily turn to the police and demand them arrest the guy if he had violated your agreement or something. But when the whole transaction is illegal, then it happens under the table, and then you can’t turn to the police when you have a problem ,you have to deal with it yourself. And same happens with the AV industry. A minor or not, it doesn’t matter, should not be stopped from working whatever she wants. If she is 18 and wants to work in the AV industry, that’s her own choice, it’s her own body, she gets to decide what happens with it. It is her parents responsibility to educate her enough. But what happens if it’s legal to sign a contract and work in the AV industry even as a minor? Well now if she wants to leave and does not violate the contract, she can leave and if the company tries to stop her, she can turn to the police and the police can now take legal actions, because the whole exchange was legal. Once you create competition, you make it impossible for companies to abuse their workers, because they simply have a bigger choice. So the solution is therefore not more regulations but less.

      • blondein_tokyo

        “But what happens if it’s legal to sign a contract and work in the AV
        industry even as a minor? Well now if she wants to leave and does not
        violate the contract, she can leave and if the company tries to stop
        her, she can turn to the police and the police can now take legal
        actions, because the whole exchange was legal.”

        Actually, no. Since minors cannot legally do sex work, the contracts they sign and the work they do are both illegal. This means if the minor wants to leave, the minor can go to the police and the police can take legal action because its illegal to employ a minor for sex work. In fact, that’s why this particular case was decided this way. The judge was able to void the contract because it was illegal. The outcome was in favor of the plaintiff. That outcome is going to help other women who also are afraid to leave sex
        work because they are worried that their contracts are binding.

        On the other hand, if it were legal for a minor to sign a contract, and the minor wanted to leave, she wouldn’t be able to because the contract, being legal, would be binding – so the police wouldn’t be able to do anything.

        You see? Logic! I can does it. :)

        “Once you create competition, you make it impossible for companies to
        abuse their workers, because they simply have a bigger choice. So the
        solution is therefore not more regulations but less.”

        There already is a lot of competition in the AV industry. There are hundreds and hundreds of small production companies doing work out of offices, apartments, hotel rooms, and even people’s vans. The reason people are being abused isn’t because there isn’t competition and they have no choices; the reason people are being abused is because there are unscrupulous people in the AV industry exploiting young women and girls who are naive and don’t understand the law and don’t know what they are getting into- just like this girl. The answer, then, is to have more oversight into the industry, where the laws that apply to other businesses are also applied to AV companies. For example, contracts that spell out the type of work, the hours, the pay and overtime pay, health care, pension plan, and sex workers should be able to form and join unions.

        That way, if the contract is broken, for example, by trying to force someone to do a type of work they don’t want to do and is not in their contract, then the law can step in and prevent it.

        Of course, regulation can’t stop ALL abuse. But at least sex workers would have more rights and more options than they do now.

        Actually, as you might have guessed, I’m in favor of legalizing both drugs and all kinds of sex work, including prostitution, precisely because I think people should be able to decide for themselves what to do with their own bodies. I also agree with you that keeping these things above board means less abuse – because making it legal means it is bound to regulations.

        There are good reasons for making laws regulating every kind of industry, but especially for sex work – sex work is *dangerous*. It’s chock-full of unscrupulous people and has the potential to be very damaging physically and emotionally, particularly for a young person who doesn’t have the life experience or maturity to understand fully what s/he is getting into.

    • ai

      Under article 90 of the civil law act (民法90条), contracts that contravene public morality are null and void.
      I think it’s pretty plain that a contract that compels a woman to forfeit her sexual autonomy and have sex with men she doesn’t want to sleep with is incompatible with “public morality”.

      • Terry

        Which in no way contradicts what I said. ANY country can make ANY thing illegal. In Singapore people are severely canned for the most trivial transgressions. In Saudi Arabia they are executed for things not much more serious.

        And this is all as it should be. A people, including the Japanese people, have the human right to set up the government they want. The delusion comes in when any people believe they can force a group to behave in a certain way without that act having any ramifications.

        People by the nature of being people will evaluate situations and make choices. They may decide to comply with orders or they may decide to start a civil war to overthrow their government, Egypt as a dramatic example.

        Japan arguably has the most sophisticated and powerful organized crime in the entire world. Believing that you can by, government fiat, relieve these women of their obligations is dangerously shortsighted. Attempts to remove the legal protections of the Japanese porn industry will do nothing but force it to align with the group that can protect its interests. Organized crime will be all too happy to fill the, tremendously profitable, legal vacuum created by these short sighted decisions. Sure this one woman gets out of her contract. The next 100,000 may get that option.

    • Nemo

      What’s simple is that often sex workers are coerced into employment, the job of judicial officials is to apply the law appropriately, interpret it and apply it to protect the citizenry. President defines the law, so to say a change in it heralds the collapse of society is hyperbole. As others in the comment section of pointed out the contract would be null and void if it was completed while she was a minor, even if it wasn’t if the employer was commuting a crime in this case, statutory rape then it is to protect the victim. Society would break down if employers where allowed to enforce operating procedures with criminal behaviour.

  • Tabula Rasa

    I’ll speak about oppression in general. Whenever there are social conditions that deprive people of power which allows them to be exploited, those with power need to step in, like the American federal government during the Civil Rights Movement. It’s illogical to expect the powerless to correct the problem(s) themselves, and sometimes they can’t be blamed for their “choices” because they don’t actually have choices.

    These kinds of stories can’t examine all the complicated social conditions that contribute to victimization, but the conditions can reasonably be inferred from other stories about the scarcity of laws to protect women and children, or the extremely late adoption of laws like the one outlawing child porn. The enforcement of such laws may also be a problem, as it is for other countries that have many more such laws.