On March 13, a 20-year-old Osaka woman was arrested on suspicion of obscenity. The circumstances were unusual. Normally, says Shukan Jitsuwa (April 5), it’s the purchase of sexually explicit images that police clamp down on. Targeting the purveyor represents something of a shift. The point, the magazine assumes, is to send a warning to the growing number of women selling nude selfies online.
The woman in question is a university student who police say sold five pornographic self-images to a man in his 50s for 5,000 yen, which allegedly was transferred to the woman’s bank account.
This sort of transaction is as old as the internet – much, much older, of course, if one thinks non-digitally. In terms of seriousness, it pales against “revenge porn,” typically involving a man rejected by a former lover posting erotic footage of her where everyone can see it. It’s hard to know where to draw the line, however, since much revenge porn starts out as selfies sent voluntarily. Relationships turn sour, tempers turn ugly, and the police are called. It happened 1,144 times during the first six months of 2017 – the most ever, a 12.1 percent increase over the previous year, according to the National Police Agency. The woman’s arrest, Shukan Jitsuwa figures, is part of an attempt to attack revenge porn at the root.
Why, one naturally wonders, would a young woman with higher education expose herself to the obvious risks? Easy money is one answer, but not the only one. Easy attention is another, and easy popularity, or at least the feeling of being popular.
“At first,” the magazine hears from a 21-year-old university student, “I did it for pocket money. Then I began hearing from men, dozens of them, who told me they want me. I’d always been a quiet type. Being popular like this made me feel very happy.”
She sounds like precisely the sort of woman at whom the police would be directing their warning.” It would make people who think purely in terms of easy money hesitate,” observes journalist Yukio Ishihara. The money isn’t easy if being arrested is a possibility. If that happens, “it’s all over. And what if it gets in the news? It can damage your whole future.”
But laws are as old as crime, if not older, and yet crime persists all the same. This one probably will too, Ishihara speculates. Money and popularity can be irresistible lures – doubly so if the two come in tandem.
In Tokyo’s Shibuya in January, police arrested three people – a girl, a boy and a young man. The girl is a first-year senior high school student. A photo, her face blurred, shows her holding a sign reading “Furii oppai” (“free breasts”) – apparently an invitation to passersby to fondle her. The males with her, an 18-year-old high school student and a 23-year-old company employee, seem to have been filming the scene. The idea, police say, was to post the footage on YouTube and draw as many hits as possible. Hits draw ads – the more hits, the higher the ad prices.
It’s not only police who are up in arms against this, Shukan Jitsuwa points out. Hardcore “YouTubers” pursuing the same ad revenue without erotic content are similarly indignant. Unfair competition, they call it.© Japan Today