What is the Big Deal with Child Pornography in Japan?

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.

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7 Responses to What is the Big Deal with Child Pornography in Japan?

  1. Liam Zwitser says:

    Doesn’t the DPJ have a mayority in the Diet? can’t they simply throw it out?

    Or, in a nice display of dirty politics, frame one of the LDP diet members? Might change their mind?

    • dankanemitsu says:

      The revision to the Child Pornography Law was taking place in spring of 2009, prior to the landslide election that brought the DPJ into power. The LDP had control of the lower house, and the DPJ had control of the upper house in the spring of 2009.

  2. Epke says:

    That 3rd section would make most publications with those Kid stars illegal.

    • dankanemitsu says:

      As I said elsewhere, the fact that the Japanese police does not uniformly enforce the law as it is written makes things very complicated.

      The police claim they are being considerate. I say they are using the threat of illegality to cower publishers who they think don’t follow the rules, and at the same time encourage risk-taking publisher to flaunt the rules until things are too late.

  3. Jeffrey Rolek says:

    I was recently in Japan a couple weeks ago.
    I’ve read lots of Lolicon samples while I has there.
    Including one that features 2-year-olds.
    And I’ve noticed that the Japanese around me act like it’s the most normal thing in the world.
    I have total respect for Japanese illustrators and animators to draw and/or animate what ever they please (as long as it doesn’t involve actual children).
    But back home in America, it’s a whole different story.
    Back in 2003, former president George W. Bush signed the Amber Act into law that makes stricter laws on possessing anything that resembles child pornography (including illustrated cartoons such as Lolicon).
    I’ve read that a man was sentenced to 15 months in prison for possession of pornographic images of Bart Simpson.
    I think that this is very hypocritical.
    I do not see Lolicon as child pornography.
    My definition of child pornography is that it involves the filming and causing harm to an innocent child.
    Since Lolicon is illustrated, no children were involved and no children were harmed in the process.
    I’m starting to realize that American politicians are extremely paranoid about what is child pornography, whether the people are real or not.
    America should be more liberal and open-minded as the people of Japan.
    It would be like if I was arrested for drawing a Lolicon that features only stick figures.
    I wanted to bring Lolicon back with me from Japan, but felt paranoid myself that I might be arrested and possibly convicted.
    So basically, my country’s government has us (including myself) scared to death.
    And I don’t think that’s right.
    My country is supposed to be an independent country who should have not right to tell it’s citizens what they should read and NOT read.
    Lolicon is a work of art, not an act of crime.

    • Robin says:

      The term “Lolicon” is short for “Lolita complex.” The term “Lolita complex” is used for any sexual attraction to female children. Even a salaryman who skips the porn altogether, and tries to have sex with actual middle school girls instead has a “Lolita complex”.

      Do you still think lolicon is a work of art and not a crime when it’s a 40-year-old actually coercing a 12-year-old into having actual sex instead of a picture?

      • dankanemitsu says:

        I do not think it is a good idea to confuse depictions in fiction with acts involving real people.
        You posed a questions to me and while I realize that answering a question with another question is rude, I believe it does illustrate the fallacy of the question.
        “Do you still think [works involving murder] is a work of art and not a crime when it’s a 40-year-old actually [killing] a 12-year-old instead of [reading about killing a 12-year old in fiction]?”
        Why are you juxtaposing actual crimes with fictional ones as if the two are inseparable? A crime comes about because a perpetrator acted, not because the idea existed in the world.

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