Making a Bad Law Worse – Japan Closer to Revising Child Pornography Law

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.

This entry was posted in censorship, child pornography issues, harmful material, news, news coverage, public morality and media. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Making a Bad Law Worse – Japan Closer to Revising Child Pornography Law

  1. Kevin says:

    They would ban sex, but not violence. If what they see are truly considered “acts of violations of human rights of children” and single out nudity but ignore bloodshed, wouldn’t that be hypocritical of them?

  2. dark says:

    another case make Japan closer to the kind of New Zealand. The latest of such case is a Germany tourist got 10 months in jail for “possessing of drawing of sexually abused children”, simply because “whether real or fiction, a child abused is a child abused, and that’d be prohibited in NZ”

    Oh it’s not just “doesn’t revolt” me, Mr.Dan. It is EXTREMELY revolting me. It’s just that i’m so tired, pissed, disappointed and very much break my imagination’s limit because of all these from times to times, one after another. I bet if u dig deeper, u will have a bunch of US feminists/activists involved in this, since now, japan officially joint the US-led TPP. And the maint architectures of this stupid would be shintaro ishihara (again?) and, unfortunately to said, influent people like the head of Ghibi Studio.

    It’s always surprise me how paranoid some old people from the West, especially from US, can be when regarding things like anime/manga. Instead of learning more about them, they just want to change all of them to suit their tastes, no matter how stupid they are. The same can be applied to old people in Asia, and in our case, in Japan. They just want everything return to their times, regarless of others’ opiniond, and the goverment take it as a chance to make people forget about real problems we’re facing.

    The only hopes I’m cling to are:
    1. More bigger problems surface, forcing LDP pay more attention at them, thus set this crap aside.

    2. The bill, if become real, is so vague that it’s hard to actually apply to real life. Remember Bill 156 and the cases of To Love ru Darkness & Yosuga no Sora.

    3. The opposing is enough to stop it. But I dont put my money into this, also learning from bill 156’s experience.

    In the end, as someone who live oversea, the only thing i can do is pray. Other than that, i don’t know what i should do.

    • lorddivides says:

      So, Dark, I realize it’s a bit of a late reply, but I just wanted to say: Please stop trying to blame this on the Western feminist community.

      I realize there’s at least one idiot on here trying to hide behind what are at least supposed to appear to be “feminist” principals as a red-herring, but they are not representative of the community as a whole, who in my experience actually looks on this kind of censorship as an AFFRONT to the rights of women and minorities (for one thing, anytime you try to pass a law that restricts creative expression you potentially create a precedent that can be used to attack minorities. The argument that in this case it may also be harming minorities economically has also been brought up, but I’m not prepared to cite or defend those points right now).

      To make this short: There are exceptions, of course (feminism is a very broad and generalized socio-political movement), but I think you’ve been lead by the nose a bit if you think people like “Angel” are representative of the bulk of the community.

  3. Chris Chan says:

    Japan’s ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), along with co-sponsors New Komeito Party and the Japan Restoration Party, are proposing an amendment to the country’s current child pornography laws. The bill is being submitted to the National Diet of Japan this week, and looks to make possession of child pornography a crime. Currently, possessing child pornography is not illegal in Japan so long as the owner is not selling, distributing, or creating the images. The amendment would make possession of sexual images of individuals under 18 illegal, with a fine of 1 million yen (about US$10,437) and less than a year in jail if the subject is found to have the images for “the purpose of satisfying sexual curiosity.” The bill would also provide for greater measures to prevent child pornography from being transmitted online.

  4. Reina says:

    This is sad to read.. There is hope that this crap will not pass?
    I don’t know politics in Japan but there should be hard opposition both from democratic party, manga and anime industry and fans. Loud your voices and stop this censorship that will only damage our hobby and save nobody.

  5. lorddivides says:

    “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.”

    So, I’m still a little confused by this. Is this a one time investigation that will be performed if this bill is passed, or would this be conducted individually for every incarnation of lolicon and fanservice involving an under-18 character (or is this separate from the bill altogether, or am I misunderstanding something crucial XD)? And if it is a one time investigation, what happens if they fail to come up with a passable argument that lolicon actually can cause violence against minors (yes, I understand the point about how they’re likely to just BS something. I’m still curious about the hypothetical possibility that they don’t).

  6. Mike Creig says:

    What about the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party?

    No mention from them?

  7. Mike Creig says:

    What about Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch? These organisations are recently mad at Japan for hanging people and detaining them in a police stations for 23 days! Couldn’t they do anything?

    • lorddivides says:

      Do you think they would consider such an obfuscated attack on freedom of speech something worth acting against? (Or do you have another reason for hoping they might intervene?) *Genuinely curious.*

  8. Hiram Bowen says:

    The Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) posted a statement of opposition on Thursday to the bill containing a proposed new revision to the country’s current child pornography laws. JAniCA notes that it opposes the amendment because Article 2 of the revisions mentions that the government will conduct an investigation on if manga, anime, and CG images that are “similar to child pornography” have any connection to the infringement on the rights of children. Three years after the investigation, the article states, the government would then decide based on the results if it should take measures to regulate these anime, manga, and CG works. JAniCA notes that there would be a very high risk of the decline of Japan’s animation culture if the revision is passed, and it would be also seriously restrict freedom of expression.

  9. Some societies such as Canada and Australia have laws banning cartoon, manga or written child pornography and others require ISPs ( Internet Service Providers ) to monitor internet traffic to detect it.

  10. Angel says:

    I have never seen this many weirdos making a stink over a law that could potentially ban the depiction of animated children involved in sexual acts. As if the preservation of manga and anime is some sort of priority. Decorum and civility be damned. Here’s a tip, Japan:

    Stop drawing kids in sexual situations. This shit is fucking simple.

    We have comics and cartoons in America, also. Somehow our illustrators have managed not to draw a minor with a dick in their mouth and try to pass it off as “creative expression.” Go figure. Get with the program, Japan! And while you’re at it, start making it legal for women and young girls to carry pepper spray to better combat the prospect of getting their asses groped on public transit.

    Good God that country has pissed me off so much. And I used to LOVE anime and manga and everything Japanese. Now I want nothing to do with any of it It’s just a damn shame, really.

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