Nonprofit’s manga raises awareness of teen sexual exploitation in Japan


Staff Writer

A Tokyo-based nonprofit organization is publishing manga booklets Monday that aim to safeguard juveniles from what it calls the increasingly serious reality of teen sexual exploitation in Japan.

The brainchild of Lighthouse, a group known for its counseling service for victims of human trafficking, the manga, according to the NPO, offers an authentic insight into sex crimes targeting juveniles today.

“Sexual commodification of children is growing more and more serious,” spokeswoman Aiki Segawa said. “There are a lot of cases where the kids could have been saved before it became too late if they had been more knowledgeable about what sort of danger lurks in their life.”

Lighthouse, formerly known as Polaris Project Japan, claims on its website that it has received over 3,000 calls and emails from victims of various forms of human trafficking, mostly involving minors and women, since it started a counseling service in 2005.

Beginning Monday, Lighthouse will start sending about 150 free copies of an 84-page booklet, titled “Blue Heart,” to those who ordered it in advance, mostly school teachers and workers at children’s institutions.

The manga’s production was financed to the tune of ¥1.2 million through an online crowdfunding project early last year.

In an effort to better reach schoolchildren, the group is also planning to make a free version of the manga available in the form of an e-book in April, possibly via smartphone apps.

National Police Agency statistics for 2013 show that a total of 7,687 offenses took place in which the well-being of juveniles was violated. Of them, 1,644 were related to child pornography and 709 to child prostitution.

The manga consists of three episodes, all based on real-life reports of sexual victimization affecting teenagers. Prior to publication, Lighthouse asked teens to give the group feedback about how to make the story line more authentic.

One episode has to do with the infamous “JK business,” where high school girls, or “joshi kosei” in Japanese, are lured into what are ostensibly touted as high-paying jobs, only to later find themselves coerced into providing sexual services by their employers and customers.

In the episode, a high school girl is hired by a trafficker to engage half-naked in online video chatting with male customers, with the result that nude images of her proliferate across the Internet. The girl eventually contemplates suicide.

Another episode deals with the little-known reality of sexual assaults against boys. Lighhouse spokeswoman Segawa said that although the number of young male victims who confide in the organization is considerably smaller than that of girls, she believes there are far more boys who are simply unwilling or unable to come forward.

The manga also addresses the issue of so-called revenge porn, in which sexually explicit images of targeted individuals are posted online as a way of harassing and defaming them, sometimes by their ex-partners.

Not just aimed at children, the manga project, according to Segawa, is also a wake-up call for adults, who she said need to be awakened to the reality that today’s teenagers live “side by side” with the danger of sex crimes.

For those interested in getting hold of the manga, please visit the Lighthouse website at (Japanese-language only).

  • Ben

    i think this is an excellent and important step. that said, it’s important to keep perspective and not inadvertently do more harm than good in reacting. i admit when i first came to japan i was shocked by what i saw people reading openly even on public transport, and felt high and mighty in my disgust at it, yet sexual crime in japan remains very low. there is some case to be made for under reporting, but still the numbers are one-twentieth of my own home country and also north america and europe. having learned about the meme effect (a person engaging in action A is therefore not engaging in action B) some years ago, and noting that countries with restrictions on pornography also tend to have higher incidence of rape, i wonder if japan’s adult manga and anime might be much of the reason. there have been noises made about restricting it, but i think that would be one of those cases of well-meaningly doing more harm than good. to be sure most of find that sort of thing creepy or at least distasteful, but then if these were no longer available, where would these people turn? i actually feel much safer for my wife, daughters and nieces in the knowledge that most people with any untoward thoughts are at home, satisfied with their erotic drawings. just as an aside, the same was found to be true with video games -they make people less violent, not more – see harvard’s “grand theft childhood”.

    • tomdean

      Very well said Ben! I have been saying that all along; people vent their fetishes or fantasies through manga is better than having them act them out.

      • Ben

        thanks Tom, glad there are others out there, it’s hard to bring this up when the pervading (yet unsubstantiated) belief is that material portraying undesirable behaviour causes that undesirable behaviour.

      • temptemp

        Just make sure not to make the error of stigmatizing everyone reading these mangas to have subconscious urges to rape and abuse. The legality of this content is a matter of freedom of speech, not a “necessary evil” to put up with.

  • teen sexual exploitation <-there is no such things exist in reality.

  • Boey Kwan

    I think you’re right: exposing pornographic or sexually related “literature” is the spark to the fire. The fact that this media is available is rather atrocious.
    On the other hand, there are several people who are content with their media at home. Though their fetishes are started by explicit media, any dangerous criminal tendencies could also be stemmed by the satisfaction from manga, anime, porn at home.
    I in no way support porn; however, some other commenters such as Ben, certainly produce a valid point.