New Law Criminalizes Child Pornography in Japan: Part 1

June 18, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

On June 4, the House of Representatives in Tokyo passed much-awaited legislation making the possession of child pornography illegal. It may come as a shock to many readers that it took so long for the country to pass such a law, though cybercrime defense attorneys have been in the know on this fact for years. Japan has long held the dubious distinction of being the only developed country that hadn’t yet banned child porn.

Japan: A Different Attitude

To understand this phenomenon, one must account for cultural considerations. Japan has been historically tolerant towards recreational sexual exploitation of children, even more so than that of adults. A July 2012 arrest of four Kyoto men for purchasing kiddie porn was the first such occasion since World War II.

Creating anti-child pornography legislature presented many challenges and strong resistance from various parties. Because Japan produces and consumes more child pornography than any other country, it represents a significant part of the economy and culture for its creators and users. An estimated 10 percent of men own or watch child pornography, and 80 percent of internet child porn originates in Japan.

The fight against child pornography began in 1999, when creation and distribution were criminalized. It continued in Kyoto in October 2011, when a new ordinance created fines and possible jail time for offenders. Finally, the Liberal Democratic Party introduced the current bill, which will impose a million-yen fine or a year in prison for those caught possessing such materials.

Opposition to Needed Change

Opponents of the law included the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, as well as the anime and publishing industries – and, of course, the consumers themselves, who may not have been as willing to identify themselves. Although the new law does not eliminate materials such as manga, anime, and computer-generated images depicting children engaging in sexual acts, creators of such materials fear the legislation will lead to future restrictions on their activities.

The Future of Child Porn in Japan

The recently passed law is a significant step towards the complete eradication of child pornography in Japan. However, resistant populations and an entrenched culture of exploitation will likely present difficulties during its implementation. Our next post will discuss the remaining challenges facing Japanese anti-child pornography initiatives.

If you are facing false accusations of child pornography related offenses, a Florida cybercrime defense attorney can help you clear your name. Contact Seltzer Law today at (888) 843-3333.