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Revised law banning child porn possession goes into effect

64 Comments

A revised law banning the possession of child pornography in Japan goes into effect Wednesday. Previously, only the production and distribution of child porn had been banned, not its possession.

The Diet enacted the law in July 2014, but in order to encourage disposal of material, the penalties were delayed for one year.

While the law makes the possession of child pornography illegal, the sometimes graphic images of pedophilia in manga comic books remain legal.

Campaigners had long urged Japan to toughen its stance on child pornography, complaining it was a major source of the material for global markets.

The new legislation bans possession of photographs and videos depicting real children aged below 18, but it does not include drawings or digitally-created imagery.

Now anyone who "possesses child pornography for the purpose of satisfying his/her sexual interest" faces imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to one million yen.

The ban excludes manga comics -- those aimed at adults as well as children, anime videos and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression.

Japan was the only member of the G7 group of industrialised nations in which the possession of child porn remained legal. It is banned and subject to penalties in more than 70 countries.

Japan has a large pornography industry, and visitors to the country note the ubiquity of sexual imagery and the huge volume of material available.

While it is unusual to see people openly reading pedophilic manga in public, mainstream comics read by commuters sometimes contain sexualised images that many Westerners find unpalatable.

Despite calls for manga imagery to be included in the new rules, there was strong resistance from manga artists, free-speech advocates and publishers, who said it would impinge on freedom of expression and allow authorities to make arbitrary decisions about art.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

64 Comments
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This law is a no brainer! too bad most Japanese will be violating the law, Why you ask? its called Manga.

-10 ( +9 / -19 )

While it is unusual to see people openly reading pedophilic manga in public

Uh, not that unusual.

It never ceases to amaze me the sort of material certain people have no qualms about reading while riding Tokyo's trains.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Whatever you think of manga that depict this kind of stuff, i fear for what pedophiles might do if their last possibility to vent will be taken. Let them have their comics as long as no children get hurt. Sometimes you just gotta let it go, even if you don't like it.

What about the junior idols though? Will this be illegal, too? If not, I hope they think about that soon. Thats what really bothers me ever since I encountered it in Osaka.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Beer4meJul. 15, 2015 - 05:56AM JST

This law is a no brainer! too bad most Japanese will be violating the law, Why you ask? its called Manga.

Oh please! If you ban manga, then ban every other book, movie, video game, and porn site that depicts violence, rape, pedophilia, or any other serious crime. With that said, I don't read manga and I definitely don't like sexually depicted children in entertainment, but if there's no victim in the creation of it, it's legal. Is it right? Definitely not.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

They can't ban cartoon pedo. If they would, that could kill today's anime-manga industry. Every game, anime, light novel, manga has at least a tsundere, kuudere, dandere... and a lolicon character.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

@Tahoochi: You make it sound like all manga violates the law or are pornographic!

The biggest problem with manga and anime depictions of people, especially females, is that it is not necessarily that easy to actually work out what the age is of a given chara unless they are extremely explicit. I think that the legal types realised this when they were working on this law as it could make it unworkable if they tried to enforce it on such media. The amount of titles set in high schools could be seen as an exception here but even then I'd be surprised if a law here could be enforced on people unless they were seen in public with such products.

Having said all that, though, I'm not a great fan of the more pornographic end of the spectrum, no matter what the age of the charas might be. in the end, these are just drawn images.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

"The Diet enacted the law in July 2014, but in order to encourage disposal of material, the penalties were delayed for one year."

How does this make any sense whatsoever?

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

This law is a no brainer! too bad most Japanese will be violating the law, Why you ask? its called Manga.

The article states:

"The ban excludes manga comics—those aimed at adults as well as children, anime videos and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression."

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Despite calls for manga imagery to be included in the new rules, there was strong resistance from manga artists

Who are these manga artists?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The ban excludes manga comics—those aimed at adults as well as children, anime videos and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression.

It has nothing to do with 'freedom of speech' if the material is is disgustingly immoral. One of the popular series of 'hentai manga' is called, Sister Sister. It's all about incest and brother/sister relationships of kids in their early teens with a little help from their fathers. These kinds of topics have no place in a modern society. However, the main reason it is not banned is because the market is so disturbingly huge and it employs too many people to ban it.

BTW, I know of this because my GF works for a publishing company. Not because I have read it.

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

The ban excludes manga comics—those aimed at adults as well as children, anime videos and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression.

.... And yet, an artist is still banged up over her creation of a kayak based on her own parts, where's her freedom of expression?

Double standards for creepy paedo lawmakers .

15 ( +20 / -6 )

So after we start thought policing people reading sexually explicit acts involving children in comic book form, what media is next? Movies and drama that depict drug dealing, murder, rape or perhaps theft? Are these things and themes just as wrong? Yet many of us consume them on a daily basis. So where do we draw the line?

I am no supporter of child abuse, but I can't agree to silencing and punishing people for their thoughts and opinions.

We need to focus more of our time and energy to protecting real children who are here and alive that may be suffering from real child abuse cases.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Possession can be punished by up to one year in prison. Not long enough. As for the million yen fine, that is just so lame.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Freedom of speech is important. I am glad to see Manga and other mediums not touched.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Gaiyatsu at work. Gotta love it.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Japan....2015....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Not good enough, ban child porn in software and manga please.

-14 ( +3 / -17 )

Gaiyatsu

If you're going to use Japanese, at least spell it right: gaiatsu

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@igloobuyer

What are you trying to say with that statement? Are you in support of foreign pressure or against it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

that was always a strange loophole in the law. you couldn't produce it, but you could possess it. why, japanese people?!?! (in my best jason astugiri voice)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@nakanoguy01

That I admit is a weird one. Let's not forget that distribution was also made illegal, and yet possession was still okay...so how did you get this stuff again?

Were Japanese legislators afraid too many people were going to be on the wrong side of the law if they outlawed all things pertaining to child abuse?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The ban excludes manga comics—those aimed at adults as well as children, anime videos and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression.

Why single out Japan, when almost the same is true in the US?

18 USC 2256: Definitions for chapter

(11) This definition does not apply to depictions that are drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings depicting minors or adults.

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title18-section2256&num=0&edition=prelim

9 ( +10 / -1 )

especially when you are a parent, your child ask what is that about dad?what do you think i would answer?personally vote ban for life!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

nakanoguy01Jul. 15, 2015 - 09:54AM JST

that was always a strange loophole in the law. you couldn't produce it, but you could possess it. why, japanese people?!?! (in my best jason astugiri voice)

Possession of child pornography for distribution purpose was illegal even before the law change this month. What is prohibited this month was so called "simple possession". The argument was that by prohibiting and punishing production and distribution of child pornography, the society can eliminate child pornography. The argument has been proven true.

What some of the protesters are against is something that is not child pornography by the international definition, such as drawings and paintings.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

please- we as westerners are given a grace to comment here, but this is Japan, too many times i see western values placed onto the Japanese. This they tolerate to an extent but it is not our right to decide for them

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Despite calls for manga imagery to be included in the new rules, there was strong resistance from manga artists, free-speech advocates and publishers, who said it would impinge on freedom of expression and allow authorities to make arbitrary decisions about art.

These manga artists has a point, however, this kind of mangas' influence might lead readers to commit a children-related crime, which violates children's rights. What good can these mangas do?

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

I'm as against and disgusted by pedophilia as anyone, and personally believe that pedophiles should be castrated. But no one gets hurt when there is pedophilia in a comic.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

cevin7Jul. 15, 2015 - 11:27AM JST

this kind of mangas' influence might lead readers to commit a children-related crime

And, to the contrary there are arguments that this kind of manga actually reduces the number of real children-related crimes. There are no proofs either way yet. The people who want to regulate should show the proof.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

And yet, an artist is still banged up over her creation of a kayak based on her own parts, where's her freedom of expression?

OMG...that is an EXCELLENT point!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Voted down for saying child porn in manga is bad... some people are sick....

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Exactly

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It is my understanding that none of the Japanese Manga violates US law. So why is Japan held to a higher standard? Lastly most sexual predators know their victims and it is most likely to be a family member.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

YuriOtani: The US isn't global law, it does in at least two countries:

"Some nations such as Canada and Australia have laws banning cartoon, manga or written child pornograph"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_regarding_child_pornography

It needs to be banned in Japan, it's F-ing disgusting and you're a dirty pervert if you like it

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

Some people have made the point that children are not involved in the creation of paedo manga, anime or games... this is true... but think about the perverts these are aimed at. What goes on their sick, twisted minds when they see that material... will it make them want to have the real thing?

As an artist I believe in freedom of expression, but I also believe that there are some things that should never be depicted, and child abuse is one of them. I can't even imagine what goes on inside the head of these artists who draw child abuse... are they using their imagination... or their memory?

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Thunderbird2Jul. 15, 2015 - 04:08PM JST

What goes on their sick, twisted minds when they see that material... will it make them want to have the real thing?

US Supreme Court has different opinion. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/535/234.html

The argument that eliminating the market for pornography produced using real children necessitates a prohibition on virtual images as well is somewhat implausible because few pornographers would risk prosecution for abusing real children if fictional, computerized images would suffice.

Also,

The argument that virtual child pornography whets pedophiles' appetites and encourages them to engage in illegal conduct is unavailing because the mere tendency of speech to encourage unlawful acts is not a sufficient reason for banning it, Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U. S. 557, 566, absent some showing of a direct connection between the speech and imminent illegal conduct, see, e.g., Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U. S. 444, 447 (per curiam).

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Why is everyone citing what happens in the US? They are not the last word on what is and isn't good/bad. Many other countries ban drawings and other images of paedophliia, I wish every other country would do so too.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Why is everyone citing what happens in the US?

Because the US is one of the few countries that still provides robust protection for free speech, it's the largest and most important Western country, and most commentators are likely Western themselves.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

@illyas Ha, ha, ha.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

i got no problem at all banning real child porn. hell personally i think those 3D versions should be banned as well. alongs as they leave the otaku industry the hell alone cause lolicon and shotacon pictures and videos from hentai arent harming kids at the least.

its just as what ken akamastu and other manga authors said. claims that materials like these are harming kids is not only idioic , it'll harm the entire manga industry. and to be frank the only thing those govt's officials are proving is that their getting more and more like the US politicians. COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH & UTTERLY MORONIC TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE!!. its why i really dont give a hoot about politics at all and ignore them at times unless their trying to screw around with the manga and gaming industries.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

"While the law makes the possession of child pornography illegal, the sometimes graphic images of pedophilia in manga comic books remain legal."

The usual Japanese lip-service. It's illegal -- except where it's inconvenient or causes some to complain. Reminds me of when they made the common-sense law of not allowing a parent to have two kids on a bicycle because it is proven to be unsafe, then repealed the law because a few moms complained it made things 'inconvenient'. But hey, if you need more proof about how this is obviously BS, just look at the female artist who keeps getting arrested for making representations of her body parts! If THAT is not 'freedom of expression' and the police and government cracking down on it selectively, then I don't know what is.

Anyway, they won't actually track down or charge anyone for this -- they'll only charge someone if that person hands them the photos and says, "Here, take me in", and even then they'll likely get a pass. It's just lip-service to look like they are doing something.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

It has nothing to do with 'freedom of speech' if the material is is disgustingly immoral.

Yes it does. You have, in effect, allowed your subjective ickisms to cause you to advocate something that actively restricts the freedom of others, an OBJECTIVE WRONG.

The entire point of freedom of speech is to protect such speech. Speech that is popular is never in danger. Even in a dictatorship, if a certain product is already mind-bogglingly popular the dictatorship will be inclined to quietly let it go.

It is the unpopular stuff, ever vulnerable to the human urge to censor stuff that icks them, that needs to be protected.

Even the so called obscene bans are actually slamshots against of freedom of speech. I think people are too used to freedom of speech these days to understand how precious it really is.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki: "It is the unpopular stuff, ever vulnerable to the human urge to censor stuff that icks them, that needs to be protected."

You're equating the images of children being gang-raped and gawked at for sexual pleasure with "unpopular stuff". Wow. So if you're sticking up for such manga, why stop there and why not support full on video of children being raped or posed for the sexual gratification of the consumer? I mean, that too can be called freedom of expression, right. for some filmmakers and photographers? And before you say in that case it would be harmful to others, what if it physically does not harm them (I'm not arguing it doesn't, I think it is abuse any way you slice it) and they agree to it? And how about the people with such ease to it who take the next step and act out on the material so easily available to them? Shouldn't you eliminate these parts of the problem?

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

I cannot believe that in this day still a lot of people think that finding something disgusting is enough for it to be forbidden, even when they can find no victims. There is a huge lot of things that I find personally disgusting and horrendous but if there is nobody hurt in doing that I would never dream of imposing my personal preference on them. Prove that there are victims, that normal people become monsters because of it and you will have my complete support in banning it. Before that, even one person dedicated to protect imaginary children is one person that is not working in catching real child molesters for no real reason.

And also people that argue "what about those that see drawings first and then act on real children?" That is the lamest argument ever, equal to the "violent videogames make children into killers" One thing is criminals consume media with any kind of relationship with their mental illness and another very different is that the media caused or made worse that illness. If you have no objective evidence of damage then you have to accept that you have no basis for banning it.

And that without even going into the fools errand that is to try to decide morals on imaginary people. Ah but of course, as long as you are saying "what about the children?" people take it as permission to become irrational.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

smithinjapanJul. 15, 2015 - 07:47PM JST

So if you're sticking up for such manga, why stop there and why not support full on video of children being raped or posed for the sexual gratification of the consumer?

The whole purpose of Child Pornography Convention is to protect children from exploitation.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPSCCRC.aspx

If no child is involved in the creation of manga, there is no child who is exploited. Whereas, in the case of a video recording a child being gang raped, the child so raped is a victim of exploitation. Freedom of expression does not allow exploitation of others. There is big difference between the two.

Let us read the definition of child pornography in the international convention.

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

Article 2

(c) Child pornography means any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 1

For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

In many countries including Japan and the US, "a child" in the treaty is interpreted as a real child.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@Franchesca ..... Glad to be of service :) I'm worried about all the thumb-downing freaks on here today.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

CH3CHO: "Freedom of expression does not allow exploitation of others. There is big difference between the two."

Doesn't explain the double standards when it comes to a female artist depicting her genitalia. It is not literally her genitalia on display, since that is in her pants, same as it's not a child on display or being exploited in a manga. I don't want to buy her 'art' any more than I want to see any manga porn, rape or otherwise, although the image of a vagina is far less offensive, but still if the police and government stick up for one, why not the other if it is TRULY about freedom of expression and not just the complaints of a particular group who may well cater to the tastes of the people making the rules?

And I'm quite sure the definition of 'exploitation' is open to interpretation, especially in Japan where clearly pushing through laws which contradict the very Constitution can be interpreted to be abiding by it, as an example of exploiting vagueries.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

mistie710Jul. 15, 2015 - 07:46AM JST

@Tahoochi: You make it sound like all manga violates the law or are pornographic!

I know it doesn't and that's not what I meant.

smithinjapanJul. 15, 2015 - 07:20PM JST

It's illegal -- except where it's inconvenient or causes some to complain.

But isn't that what you and others stating that pedophilia in manga should be banned are doing too? Aren't you being convenient? Pedophilia is sick, but so is murder and rape. Drug dealing, kidnapping, and human trafficking are also very serious crimes, but why aren't those banned from TV, movies, and books? Have you ever watched a movie that depicted a person or people being murdered? Oh, you are very sick then! Right? Actually, no, because we know that it's not real. Same with child porn in manga.

Do you believe imaginary children being abused is more serious than imaginary murder? If THAT'S not convenient, then I don't know what is.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I hate this stuff with a passion, yes, even the drawn stuff. But as much as it kills me to say it, I have to admit that the people talking about freedom of expression make a valid point. It is kind of like the very non-Japanese people trying to get the kimono wednesdays shut down in Boston right now - it hurts no one, but offends their delicate sensibilities therefore they want to impose their will on everyone. Yes I know - completely different scenario but same principle applies.

I would never want to lump myself i with people like that so all I would say that - as disturbing as it is to me that there is such a huge market for virtual reality violent pedophile porn - go ahead and keep it. Just keep it well away from me and mine.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I'm thankful for the amount of info/links provided in your posts.

@CH3CHO . .me too. Thanks posting the links to case law.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

gogogo there is no thing as global law. Manga is drawing and not reality and I understand the problem with the stuff that duplicates child rape. The problem is where is the dividing line between acceptable and criminal? Of course why stop with the physical, how about making criminal their thoughts. If a person has a "unhealthy" thought they are put in prison.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Stood next to guy on the train in Tokyo reading these types of manga. Really disgusting.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

YuriOtani: There are standards, Japan is far behind with child protection and pawn laws. If people buy this crap they must like it, hence it has affected their social well being. I think everyone agrees that child porn is wrong but cartoon pawn is just as bad as the real thing. No one gets hurt? How about the minds of the people buying it?

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

@smithinjapanJUL. 15, 2015 - 07:47PM JST

You're equating the images of children being gang-raped and gawked at for sexual pleasure with "unpopular stuff".

B/c ultimately, that's what it is.

And before you say in that case it would be harmful to others, what if it physically does not harm them (I'm not arguing it doesn't, I think it is abuse any way you slice it) and they agree to it? And how about the people with such ease to it who take the next step and act out on the material so easily available to them? Shouldn't you eliminate these parts of the problem?

Ah, but how can you forget the unspoken masses who gain some closure from having access to such material and not take the next step.

Second, as a person who's main objection to such acts is indeed based on best available science (saying there will be psychological damage) rather than visceral ickisms, I counter-question you thus: If, as you propose, we temporarily grant the presumption that there will be no physical or psychological damage, in what way is this abuse? Why should it not be allowed?

Doesn't explain the double standards when it comes to a female artist depicting her genitalia

You actually have a good point here, but people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Taking all the legal mumbo-jumbo and other BS aside, what happened is that the female artist was not allowed her expression, though it is harmless, because people (including the involved judges) thought it was icky. They just had a different ickism than you.

Perhaps the correct conclusion here is that banning things based on ickisms rather than clear, present, significant and objectively determined harms is a shoddy idea.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Judging by the down votes, never knew JT had so many people that think child porn is okay.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

About damn time!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I didn't see anybody mention this;

Now anyone who “possesses child pornography for the purpose of satisfying his/her sexual interest” faces imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to one million yen.

So I can possess and sell it, as long as I don't pleasure myself watching the pictures or movies? A big loophole in the law, unless there are more not written in this article.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@LarsK

So I can possess and sell it, as long as I don't pleasure myself watching the pictures or movies? A big loophole in the law, unless there are more not written in this article.

Good luck enforcing that one! ^_^

@gogogo

Judging by the down votes, never knew JT had so many people that think child porn is okay.

From what I have seen so far in this thread, that hardly seems to be the case. Pornography involving children is certainly frowned upon and should be illegal, just as the law states. Pornography involving drawings is something completely different and harms nobody, as laws in a number of countries including Japan confirm.

Of course if you can provide actual proof that this is not the case, then please do so. I'm sure that we would all love to see it.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

gogogo: Even if there were a way to police people's thoughts, are you saying that you would support it?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I see child porn even in manga form as an instigator to actually performing child porn. Ban it all, get some of the perv label of Japan.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

LarsKJul. 16, 2015 - 01:22PM JST

So I can possess and sell it, as long as I don't pleasure myself watching the pictures or movies? A big loophole in the law, unless there are more not written in this article.

No such loophole.

CH3CHOJul. 15, 2015 - 10:51AM JST

Possession of child pornography for distribution purpose was illegal even before the law change this month. What is prohibited this month was so called "simple possession".

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@LarsK

I see child porn even in manga form as an instigator to actually performing child porn.

I issued a similar invitation to gogogo; if you have a link to anything currently relevant that proves that the actions in "child porn" manga is reliably imitated, please post it.

The trouble is that so many see such manga as distasteful and wish to ban it based on their own morals but use children to justify their stand on such things without actual proof. Personally, as I have already stated, I have no interest in child porn and wouldn't mourn its loss (for me it's all about the story. Porn, generally, tends not to be about stories) but in order to actually ban this sort of manga, you need proof that it does what you say it does. The fact that so many countries, not just Japan, have this so-called "loophole" would seem to suggest that we don't have that proof.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Illyas "Because the US is one of the few countries that still provides robust protection for free speech, it's the largest and most important Western country, and most commentators are likely Western themselves" Right... because all westerners are american. Looks like Illyas also forgot about Europe.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is not about foreign pressure. Women should not be portrayed as a child... either physically, nor emotionally. This is a control tactic and sexism. Just because it is in manga doesn't make it any less innocent. THis is more than just child porn. This is about how we choose to portray women.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@that person

Geez, and Americans get stereotyped as being of low intelligence. Reading comprehension would do you well.

@Aaron

lol so what, feminists are now saying it's sexist to depict female children?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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