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Japan's Lack of Laws on Virtual Child Porn Criticized

posted on 2008-11-27 03:53 EST
Japanese manga, anime spotlighted at global conference on sexual exploitation

A participant at the ongoing World Congress III Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents criticized Japan on Wednesday for not restricting manga and anime with explicitly sexual depictions of children, or "virtual child pornography." Dr. Ethel Quayle, a prominent psychologist from Cork, Ireland, addressed a session attended by all the gathered representatives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. According to Quayle, the United Kingdom and other countries outlaw comics with sexual depictions or abuse of children. Qualye said that Japan does restrict photographs of actual children, but does not restrict manga or anime. She asserted that this allows "problematic" images to spread throughout the rest of the world.

A law is circulating through Japan's parliament that would amend Japan's child pornography laws, but not regulate the virtual kind. Instead, the government has decided to study the issue of virtual child pornography for three years, despite protests from the Japanese branch of the United Nations Children's Fund. The parliament will consider the results of the study before making a future decision on the issue. Nobuto Hosaka of the Social Democratic Party introduced a petition that called for illustrations and other fictional portrayals to be specifically exempt from the pending child pornography ban.

The other Group of Eight (G-8) countries besides Russia have laws that ban child pornography, but one ban against the virtual kind, the PROTECT Act of 2003, is being tested in American courts. A trial is about to begin on December 2 for an Iowan man accused of receiving and possessing obscene Japanese manga.

Neil Gaiman, an award-winning British writer who now lives in the United States, has spoken out on behalf of the defendant in Iowa. Gaiman noted to MTV's Splash Page that he "wrote a story about a serial killer who kidnaps and rapes children, and then murders them. We did that as a comic, not for the purposes of titillation or anything like that, but if you bought that comic, you could be arrested for it? That's just deeply wrong. Nobody was hurt. The only thing that was hurt were ideas."

3,000 representatives from the governments and non-governmental organizations of 140 countries are attending the global conference in Brazil. They plan to issue a joint declaration on Friday, the final day of the conference.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun


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