The last time revision of the child pornography law was considered was in 2009. I talked about the major pitfalls of the current law here.
After winning back the lower house of Diet in December of 2012, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan made it known they would want to revise the child pornography law in a direction that failed to win support from opposition parties in 2009. The earliest confirmation of this was reported by Nikkei in March.
In 2009, the then opposition party–the Democratic Party of Japan–proposed making it clear that the ban would be restricted to images of real child being abused and making the act of attempting to possess child abuse photos illegal. The idea was since the definition of child pornography was so murky in Japan, as the police can claim images of child that might be included in the National Geographic or any family album as being “child porn” if someone could be proven to be stimulated by it, it would be better to provide a tool to the police to prosecute those who actively seek out material that should be illegal. Remember that producing, duplicating, and distributing child pornography is already illegal in Japan, and thus the DPJ solution was to remove the loophole where someone sending the image could be prosecutable while the who ever was receiving was not.
And yet the Liberal Democratic Party insisted that the definition was just fine, the police can be trusted regardless of the fact that the police has been forced to admit extracting false confessions from innocent people time and time again, and even further, laying the groundwork toward defining images not featuring real children as the same as images of child being actually being abused.
Now we have confirmation from a Minna-no-Tou (Your Party) member of the lower Diet that the 2013 draft of the child pornography revision will be almost identical to the 2009 draft. Taro Yamada has revealed that Sanae Takaichi, the chairwoman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, came to his office and asked that Your Party cooperate with the LDP’s desire to revise the child pornography law. Yamada stated his opposition, citing how the revision does not exclude fiction, that the law should be renamed to “child sexual abuse prohibition act” to better reflect the purpose of the law, and that there are laws already available to empower the police to prosecute manga that is found to be obscene.
Yamada revealed that it was hardly unorthodox for the head of the powerful LDP Policy Research Council to come directly to a member of a different party to ask for their cooperation, and that the current LDP draft does not change the vague definition of what constitutes child pornography and yet makes its possession illegal. In cases where the accused can be proven to possess child pornography to satisfy his or her sexual curiosity, monetary penalty and incarceration can be levied. Furthermore, and more importantly for anime and manga fans, an investigative provision has been added that requires the government to conduct research into how acts of violations of human rights of children could be linked to manga, anime, CG, virtual child pornography that are similar to child pornography.
It’s important to note that child doesn’t mean someone that hasn’t gone through puberty. In law, a child is a minor, someone under the age of 18. Furthermore, child pornography is defined in Japan as an act that features 1) any pose of a minor engaged in sexual intercourse or any conduct similar to sexual intercourse; 2) any pose of a minor having his or her sex organs, etc. touched by another person or of a minor touching another person’s sex organs, etc., which arouses or stimulates the viewer’s sexual desire; 3) any pose of a minor wholly or partially naked, which arouses or stimulates the viewer’s sexual desire.
This means any manga, anime, and/or computer generated artwork that featured a character under the age of 18 that involves any nudity or sexual act could be targeted in an investigation where a link to “acts of violations of human rights of children” will be sought out by the government using taxpayer’s money.
If that doesn’t revolt you, this might. There is nothing in the revision draft that states the investigation will be conducted by an external third party. The government could appoint harsh critics of manga and anime involving adult situations and craft a report that cobbles together anecdotal evidence and philosophical assertions that justifies expanding the definition of child pornography to include manga and anime.
Some might argue such apprehension is unreasonable and paranoid, but this is exactly what happened in the process that lead to the creation of Bill 156, the December 2010 revision to Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths that specifically targeted manga, anime, and video games.
In the case of Bill 156, the 28th Tokyo Youth Affairs Conference summoned on December 2008 was responsible for the drafting of the revision of the ordinance to include regulation of “nonexistent youth” involved in anti-social sexual situations and other controversial provisions.
Sankei and NTV has just reported that the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito Party, and the Japan Restoration Party will co-sponsor the revision to the child pornography law. It is rather ironic that one of the leaders of the Japan Restoration Party is Shintaro Ishihara appointed the members of the 28th Tokyo Youth Affairs Conference and helped enact Bill 156 while he was governor of Tokyo.
When questioned by Yamada why while manga and anime are singled out, novels will not be subject to scrutiny, former Prime Minister and current Minister of Treasury Taro Aso (LDP) stated: “…children don’t read novels. Children tend to read manga…” In other words, free speech issues can be shelved if something is easier for children, even if numerous rating systems and zoning provisions exist that is designed to keep sexually explicit material out of reach of children.
I hope to write more regarding this subject soon.