• Kyodo

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The number of children under 18 who have become victims of child pornography in Japan rose to a record-high 383 in the first half of 2015, up 58 from the year before, a police report showed Thursday.

The preliminary report by the National Police Agency said the police took action against 659 individuals, up 76 from the previous year. The number of cases of production and distribution of child pornography investigated was 831, up 43.

The figures were also the highest since the police began taking records on a semiannual basis in 2000.

Japan introduced a revised law to ban child pornography in June last year and began punishing the production of child pornography through the use of spy cameras the following month.

In July this year punishments were introduced for simple possession of pornographic images of children amid international criticism that only Japan has overlooked such acts among the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

A one-year moratorium had been put in place in order to give individuals who had such images time to dispose of them.

The latest report showed roughly 90 percent of all victims were female. The total included 60 who were elementary school students or younger, of whom 31 were victims of rape or molestation.

The youngest victim was an 8-month-old boy who was photographed by a male baby-sitter, it said.

The Japanese law defines as child pornography photos and videos that are intended to expose or focus on children’s sexual parts.

About 40 percent, or 156 victims, who were mostly junior high school and high school students, were tricked into taking “selfies” and sending them to producers of pornography, according to the report.

The police said that in many cases the perpetrators lured the victims with payments for naked images of themselves and then threatened that the images would be spread unless the victims sent more.

Spy camera images were used in the production of child pornography in 36 cases, of which 17 involved the use of smartphones, according to the report.

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