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WTF? Simple possession of child porn unpunishable in Japan

Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents: Viewing child porn, manga depicting such to be criminalized; Simple possession of child porn unpunishable in Japan

It has been seven years since the Yokohama congress, and Japan has yet to regulate the simple possession of child porn. This is a problem. I want Japan to seriously consider placing a ban on child porn, including viewing such as well.It has been seven years since the Yokohama congress, and Japan has yet to regulate the simple possession of child porn. This is a problem. I want Japan to seriously consider placing a ban on child porn, including viewing such as well. 

The Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents was held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil from November 25 through 28. Participants compiled a strict action plan that regulates access to child porn and obtaining such as well as viewing child porn and materials that depict explicit images of sexually abused children, including manga and anime. In Japan, the simple possession of child porn and materials depicting such is not punishable. The delay in Japan’s approach was visible at the congress.UNICEF Chief of Secretariat Ann Veneman at the outset of the congress on November 25, joined by about 3,000 delegates from 125 countries, including Japan, called on participating countries to promote measures, noting: “Child pornography is the most serious of all cases that infringe on the rights of children. The threat is internationally spreading on the Internet.”

Brazilian President Lula during the meeting made a public appeal on his strict stance, by signing his country’s law that makes the simple possession of child porn punishable. He noted, “It is a disgrace to human beings to leave such a crime unattended.”

The meeting made an issue over the present situation, in which communications technologies, such as cell phones and file-swapping software, are being used for the production and distribution of child porn. One delegate reported that victimized children are found all over the world due to the collapse of the conventional pattern of industrialized countries victimizing developing countries.

Given such a situation, delegates decided to adopt a zero-tolerance policy of absolutely disallowing child porn. In compiling a new action plan, they decided to criminalize not only making, providing and possessing images of child porn but also viewing such. The action plan also notes that child porn includes manga and anime that depict virtual images or sexual exploitation of children. The action plan has no legal binding force. However, participating countries will have to tackle child porn on their own.

Japan was criticized at the first congress for many sex tours and child porn being available. In 1999, the Diet enacted the child prostitution law. In 2001, Japan strengthened anti-child porn measures through such efforts as to hold the second congress in Yokohama. However, the simple possession of child porn is still legal in Japan. In view of the freedom of expression, materials that do not depict victimized children are unpunishable in Japan. Among the G-8 nations, only Japan and Russia do not regulate the simple possession of child porn. The U.S., Germany and France already regulate materials that depict child porn as well.

Regional Director for UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean Nils Kastberg made a harsh remark on Japan: “It has been seven years since the Yokohama congress, and Japan has yet to regulate the simple possession of child porn. This is a problem. I want Japan to seriously consider placing a ban on child porn, including viewing such as well.

Many countries throughout world cooperating for investigation

Saitama prefectural police launched investigation into a case involving child porn using the e-Mule, file-swapping software, in July this year. Information, which led to the investigation, was provided to the National Police Agency through the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO). Seventy-five countries are now investigating this case in cooperation.

The shared folder of the e-Mule has moving images of child porn. Users can obtain images freely. Three men, who kept moving images in the folder, were arrested on suspicion of violating the child prostitution law.

There were about 200 accesses a day from all over the world to some of the moving images in that software, meaning that the images of Japanese children being sexually exploited having flown outside the country. It is impossible to retrieve those images.

Diet in confusion: No discussion on child porn

The ruling parties in June this year submitted a bill amending the child prostitution law designed to criminalize the simple possession of child porn to satisfy curiosity. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) also compiled an amendment bill to regulate the simple possession of child porn, limiting punishable cases to the obtaining of such for value and repeated acquisitions of such. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the DPJ had agreed to hold amendment talks. However, with confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties heightening over a Lower House dissolution since the inauguration of the Aso cabinet, the DPJ has postponed the submission of the bill. No talks have been held since then.

While the domestic move to criminalize the simple possession of child porn coming to a standstill, delegates to the Rio decided to criminalize viewing child porn and materials that depict such, leaving Japan further behind. Some ruling party members made a remark in a resigned manner that it cannot be helped if the situation in the Diet is taken into account, though the world is going ahead of Japan.

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