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Japan's Planned Child Porn Law Exempts Manga, Anime

posted on 2008-03-11 12:48 EDT
UNICEF Japan urges inclusion of "virtual" pornography in proposed ban

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party* and its coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, are preparing legislation that will make possession of child pornography illegal for the first time in the country. The tentatively planned legislation does not ban so-called "virtual" child pornography — material such as some manga, anime, and games that explicitly depict fictional children. A committee of party members, specifically assembled to address the issues, met for the first time last Thursday. The committee members also met with Thomas Schieffer, American ambassador to Tokyo, this week. The Japanese government actions were prompted by Schieffer's recent statements that compared Japan's lack of a possession ban to the laws in the other Group of Eight (G-8) countries besides Russia.

The Japanese branch of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is leading the campaign to include virtual child pornography in the new proposed legislative ban. The Japanese government issued the results of a controversial poll on the issue last October. The United States passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 that addressed virtual child pornography, but it was struck down in 2002 for being overly broad. Clauses of America's PROTECT Act of 2003 were designed with the earlier court ruling in mind, but the constitutionality of this new act is also being challenged in court.

There are already laws passed in 1999 and 2004 that ban the production and sale — but not possession — of child pornography in Japan. According to Japan's Ministry of Justice, there were 25 cases of child pornography indictments in 1999, 214 in 2003, and 585 in 2006.

* Despite its name's connotations in other languages, the Liberal Democratic Party is the main conservative faction in Japanese politics.

Thank you to Kumi Kaoru and Tyshuun Felton for the news tip.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, Guardian, Reuters


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