It is illegal to create, disseminate, sell, and share child pornography in Japan. Possession is currently legal and there is international pressure on Japan to make possession illegal as well.
The problem here is that currently material that would be considered protected speech in western countries such as the US may run afoul with Japan’s definition of child pornography.
As of now, child pornography in Japan is currently defined as:
1) Any pose of a child engaged in sexual intercourse or any conduct similar to sexual intercourse;
2) Any pose of a child having his or her sex organs, etc. touched by another person or of a child touching another person’s sex organs, etc., which arouses or stimulates the viewer’s sexual desire;
3) Any pose of a child wholly or partially naked, which arouses or stimulates the viewer’s sexual desire.
Many Diet members and others have expressed concern over the subjective and vague nature of the third section in this definition. A family photo could be cropped to appear sexually suggestive and then be planted upon a non-family member to make it look as if it was collected to satisfy sexual arousal. This and other concerns over lack of police oversight has lead to an intense debate in the national Diet over how outlawing possession of child pornography should be conducted.
In 2009, Democratic Party of Japan suggested that the troublesome third section be dropped, but Japanese police force and their backers in the Liberal Democratic Party insisted that the third section be left in to give authorities maximum discretion over what constitutes child pornography.
Note: This entry was edited 20130111. “genitals organs” were changed to “sex organs” to better represent the Japanese legal definition. Nipples are considered to be sex organs according to Japanese laws, and “touching” can involve contact over an article of clothing, according to Japanese police.