• Kyodo News

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Child pornography cases and victims soared to record highs in the first half of this year, with Japan failing to create effective countermeasures despite criticism that it proliferates child porn images via the Internet.

The National Police Agency said Thursday the number of victims rose to 218 over the six months through June, up 51.4 percent from the same period last year, and the number of cases police found hit 382, up 27.3 percent.

Japan does not prohibit the possession of child porn images and faces international criticism for being child pornography’s global supplier through the Internet.

Recent Diet debate to tighten regulations on child pornography came to a halt when the Lower House was dissolved in July.

The agency attributed the sharp increases in the figures partly to enhanced crackdown efforts but still called it “only the tip of the iceberg.”

The NPA said the number of people found involved in producing and distributing child pornography rose 53.7 percent to 289.

Meanwhile, cases of child abuse crackdowns dropped slightly from the record figure marked in the first half of last year to 157, down 3.1 percent, involving 165 suspects, the same as in last year’s survey. The number of child deaths caused by abuse was 11, down 62.1 percent, the agency said.

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