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Old 2012-09-19, 01:27   Link #1
Feeling comfy
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 44
What Constitutes Child Pornography?

Since we're on the topic of adult entertainment...

Pressure grows in Japan for stronger laws against child pornography
Tokyo (Sept 19, Wed): When police in Japan's old historic capital of Kyoto nabbed three men this summer for buying child pornography DVDs online, they made history: For the first time, someone in the country faces the possibility of jail time for possessing such material.

Japan is the only member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that has not universally outlawed possession of child pornography, and activists say the new, tougher local laws in Kyoto will not change that overnight.

With various manifestations of a fascination with the young and innocent as sex objects, from graphic versions of manga, or Japanese comics, to the "junior idol" industry featuring child models in bikinis, Japan has a considerable way to go to shed an image of pornographers' safe haven.

Out of Japan's 47 provinces, only Kyoto bans possession of child pornography and prescribes a jail sentence. Neighbouring Nara is the only other province to deem it a crime, but it has only financial penalties. It has arrested several people for possession of child pornography, but the authorities could not give a number since several were charged with other crimes.

Kyoto's new ordinance that came into force in January imposes fines for possession of child pornography and introduces a penalty of up to one year in jail for buying or downloading such material.

No national consensus
There is no national debate on the subject at the moment as major parties brace themselves for general elections expected later this year. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has reservations about extending the Kyoto law nationally, while the opposition Liberal Democratic Party is for it, lawmakers told Reuters.

The DPJ has argued that local initiatives were going too far and making owning child pornography a crime could lead to abuse of police powers and that investigators should focus on those who make and distribute the material.

The Democrats have also voiced concern that a blanket ban could be extended to comics and animation, which in turn could infringe on the freedom of expression.

But a rare endorsement for tougher laws from Japan's National Police Agency (NPA), which usually avoids positions on legislation and policy, could stir further debate.

The NPA said child pornography is spreading on the Internet at an "unprecedented pace", so those who buy and possess it should be severely punished to curb its supply.

"Child-pornography producers are making DVDs because there is demand, yet we are not able to arrest buyers," the agency said in a written response to queries from Reuters. "Furthermore, some makers are encouraged by paedophiles to make increasingly brutal products that involve rape of children, and thus such buyers should be prosecuted as heavily as possible."

Police data shows a steady rise in cases of child-pornography production and distribution. There were a record 1,455 cases last year, up 8.4 per cent from 2010. This year is likely to see another record with 1,016 cases already reported by the end of July, nearly a 10 per cent rise.

There is no comparable international data, but the latest human-rights report by the State Department in the United States describes Japan as an "international hub for production and trafficking of child pornography".

The report added that the lack of a ban on possession of child pornography in Japan "continued to hamper police efforts to enforce the law effectively and participate fully in international law enforcement".

A crime of images, or one with real victims?
Japan signed a United Nation protocol in 2005 that bans all forms of involvement in child pornography, including its possession, and a 2007 government survey showed that 90 per cent of the Japanese public favoured tougher laws.

In 2010, when the Tokyo authorities banned sales of sexually extreme manga and anime films to minors, publishers hit back at the ban as an infringement on free speech and 10 major publishers threatened to boycott an annual anime fair.

Some children's-rights advocates say the portrayal of minors as sex objects has become so commonplace that the public has grown to accept it as normal. One instance is the so-called junior idol genre that features child models in DVDs and photo books striking provocative poses.

Annual sales of this industry concentrated in Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district are estimated at 60 billion yen (US$758 million).

"Child pornography cases appear to be perceived as 'crimes of images or movie scenes', and not crimes with real-life victims," said Unicef's Japan spokesman, Mr Hiromasa Nakai. "Therefore the public opinion has yet to turn into political pressure on the national Parliament."

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