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Child Prostitution & Child Porn in Japan

The Mainichi Shimbun reported that “the ruling coalition and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) have decided to start talks in the next extraordinary Diet session in the fall on revising the Child Prostitution and Child Pornography Prevention Law to strengthen restrictions on child pornography, with the aim of enacting legislation in November. The focus of attention is on the question of to what extent Japan will criminalize the individual possession of child pornography. The ruling camp calls for banning even simple possession of child pornography currently held by individuals, while the DPJ insists on prohibiting the possession of materials acquired only after a revision bill is enacted into law. The two sides have yet to find common ground.”

It disappoints me that politicians are still trying to find common ground. During earlier debates, the DPJ and other political party members came to the conclusion that the relation between child pornography and “the freedom of expression” or “the right to privacy” guaranteed by the Constitution was a very thorny issue. Give me a break! What about the kids?!

The 1999 law enacted by House members prohibits the production and sale of child pornography but does not ban simple possession. Japan and Russia are the only members of the Group of Eight (G-8) that do not criminalize possession of child pornography. The ruling camp submitted a bill amending the law calling for punishing possessors to the last regular Diet session and carried the bill over to the next extraordinary Diet session. The DPJ also intends to submit its own bill to the fall session.

The Minister of Justice, Moriyama said in a keynote speech:

“Japan, for one, has been worried about the worsening situation of commercial sexual exploitation of children in the midst of the diversification and globalization of society. For example, we have a Japanese word “enjo-kosai” which is symbolic of the lack of ethics or morals in Japanese contemporary society. This is a word invented by the mass media which means compensated dating, that is, a child offers sexual intercourse in return for pecuniary benefits such as money, and this word has the effect of weakening the impression of the immoral or anti-social nature of the act of prostitution. The dissemination of this word “enjo-kosai” clearly shows the expansion of the “merchandising of sex with a child”. Also, there is the deplorable tendency of the media to treat it as a kind of fashion.

This law has made it possible to strictly punish, as a crime, the act of performing sexual intercourse with a child under 18 years of age in return for remuneration and the act of producing pornographic pictures of a child among others. Also, any person who traffics in a child for the purpose of prostitution or produces a pornographic picture of the child or transfers a kidnapped or trafficked child overseas from the country where the child normally lives is strictly punished. These crimes are subject to punishment, whether committed in Japan or overseas, and it has now become possible to prosecute a Japanese national in Japan if he commits the act of procuring prostitution overseas.”

Now it seems like the new law will bring about big change in Japan, right? WRONG! The problem is that the politicians did not or will not take into account the use of technology (cellphones) and other “merchandise” that gives sexual pleasure such as figurines/dolls and manga.

Lawmaker Seiko Noda suggested a revision of the laws:

“The act of simply possessing child pornography should be banned; manga and anime containing child pornography should also be banned. I tried to do it a few years ago, but I was heavily attacked by others on various bulletin boards. Nonetheless, I’m going to revise the Child Prostitution and Child Pornography Prevention Act.”

According to Noda, “the Child Prostitution and Child Pornography Prevention Act is aimed at preventing the abuse of real children. To have the Act include fictional images like characters from anime and manga, the laws would need to be heavily revised, which would take too much time.” Noda insists that a new law must be established. She stated: “I believe anime and manga need to be adapted to international standards. If Japan recognizes that anime and manga are the leading export industries of Japan, their moral standard should be set on the same level as the international standard.” In case you are unfamiliar with the other side of anime and manga, here’s a brief description:

Manga come with stories for every taste and sexual kink. The largest groups are the bondage comics, and the “Loli-con” comics. “Loli-con” is a Japanese-coined term meaning “lolita-complex.” Confusingly, these books cover a wide range of subject matter. Some are true pedophilia comics, covering sexual relations with pre-pubescent children. Some are breast-fetish books, where all the women are hugely endowed–these comics are sometimes called “D-cup” manga. Some concern sex with “girls” (some of whom look as old as 30) in Japanese schoolgirl outfits (sailor suits), and some focus on sex with (just barely) pubescent girls. Also in the “Loli-con” category are the recent and very popular hermaphrodite comics.

Hopefully the politicians will find soon “common” ground and speed up the process of protecting the rights of children.

Related posts:

Child Pornography Prevention Law Amendment

WTF? Simple possession of child porn unpunishable in Japan

Human Trafficking in Japan


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6 comments on “Child Prostitution & Child Porn in Japan”

  1. Mike

    Interesting read. I wrote a similar thing on Dannychoo.com a while ago, and the replies I got were interesting! It seems that many otaku don’t consider the whole loli-con thing to be paedophilic at all and argue that their attraction to such material is in the innocent, childlike depiction of the character.

    On another note however, I picked up on your ‘moral’ condemnation of enjo kosai. I’d like to ask you this: What is wrong with prostitution if the prostitute is a fully self-aware, consenting adult? Surely the desire to sell oneself in that manner is one’s own choice? Following that (should you agree), at what age does a girl or boy become an adult? It is not easy to decide where to draw the lines and criminalise this practice.

  2. Mike

    Interesting point about ‘men and women feeling attracted to children’. I said a similar thing in the Dannychoo forums, but somehow those otaku wiggled out of it. Perhaps it is possible to be attracted to the purity and innocence held by younger people such as children? In that sense, couldn’t it be possible to be sexually attracted to people young than the legally recognised age for consenting sex?

    For the record, I still think such acts would be wrong on the grounds that people of a younger age are not fully developed and do not have have enough experience to know the implications of their actions.

  3. steven_alexander

    The Otaku justification is BS to me. But I’m American and my opinion is biased because in the US we have men and women preying on children all the time. Maybe, for most Americans, it is impossible for us to see “beauty and innocense” without crossing the line. Maybe it is an element of Japanese culture I am missing that says what the Otaku told Mike is true and that we just have dirty minds. I do know that not all men and women know where to draw the line when it comes to this subject. And it certainly does not help when they are encouraged via the multi-billion dollar porn industry or the more accessible (and supposedly innocent) advertisements in the public view. Man, I can write a one or two-page essay on Nurture and Economics being the primary catalysts for this trend. But I’ll leave it at this.

  4. zurui zurui

    mike, re: prostitution, i am definitely not one to tell grown folks what to do when it comes to a profession but i have been known to give advise (even if it was not asked for). if the person is a consenting “adult” and is employed in the world’s oldest profession it is not my place to say anything to that person. a contract is made between two “consenting” adults. i have discussed this issue with prostitutes in the usa, japan, korea, the philippines and thailand. many prostitutes from s.e. asia said that they were forced into the profession due to economic reasons. working in the sex industry gave them or their families additional income needed to pay for food, housing or education.

    when i visited various countries where minors and adults were in the sex trade without their consent i helped those folks via NGOs. when i served in the USMC, a bunch of marines would volunteer to go to orphanages that often housed children of former-prostitutes. the marines would donate food, clothing and money collected from people on base. we also help build new facilities for the staff and children. during that time, it was important to talk to the kids about opportunity. there was a big worry about the older kids entering the sex trade because of extremely high unemployment.

    to answer the questions on when does a person become an adult and my take on enjo kosai: i believe that the age of consent and the age one is legally deemed an adult in japan should be examined. if an “adult” wants to enter mizushobai and sell their “services”, they are by law allowed to do so. however, if a minor decides to do the same, it is illegal. i also consider it immoral since i am do not understand the sexual attraction that adult men and women have with children.

    to me, how to draw the line is pretty simple. have sex with a child, get punished. since castration is illegal, i guess jail time, a fine and registering in the sex-offender database will have to suffice.

  5. zurui zurui

    an adult looking at a child’s purity and innocence in a non-sexual manner is one thing but when it is taken to a different level, that is when lines are crossed.

    i am not trying to say that people attracted to or who collect figurines of anime characters are sick. i only have issues with the ones that blur reality with “their” fantasy of ………… pure/innocent “children.”

    of course it is possible for some to be sexually attracted to someone younger but that still does not make it right, legally or morally! i agree with you about people (young and old) not understanding the implications of their actions.

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