Skip to main content

Japan passes law banning possession of child pornography

By Jethro Mullen and Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1436 GMT (2236 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Japan's parliamentary upper house passes law to ban possession of child pornography
  • Production and distribution were already outlawed
  • Campaigners say the bill should have included sexually explicit anime and manga
  • Industry says a ban on comics would restrict freedom of expression

(CNN) -- Japan has finally made the possession of child pornography a punishable offense.

The country's upper house of parliament passed a bill Wednesday, which will see people found with explicit images of children jailed for up to year or fined up to $10,000.

Uganda considers banning miniskirts
Singapore bans film over content
Library bans '50 Shades of Grey' as porn

The bill was a long time coming for activists who argued that Japan's relatively lax laws put children at risk by banning the production and distribution of child pornography, but not people found with it in their possession.

"It's been 10 years and it's finally changed. I'm so pleased that Japan finally moved one step toward the international standard," said Shihoko Fujiwara, from Lighthouse, a nonprofit group that helps exploited children.

"Under the existing circumstances, the suffering and damage has become more critical. I really hope that the law rescues suffering child victims, as well as the victims damaged in the past by stopping the circulation of child porn. This is the epoch-making event for Japan," she said.

Notable exclusions

The bill notably excludes the possession of explicit anime or manga, a point of contention for campaigners who say that cartoons depicting child sexual abuse should also be banned.

Representatives of those industries say that while they support the ban on real child pornography, any move to censor their products would be an unjustified restriction of freedom of expression.

Daisuke Okeda, a lawyer and inspector for the Japan Animation Creators Association, said it was "natural that animation is exempted."

"The goal of the law itself is to protect children from crime," he said. "Banning such expression in animation under this law would not satisfy the goal of the law."

Hiroshi Chiba, the manager of Chiba Tetsuya Production, one of the country's best known manga production houses, said that more could be done in terms of age restrictions on graphic content featuring children and to distinguish it more clearly from other comics. And he admitted that some products of the industry leave him and his colleagues "disgusted."

"But rich, deep culture is born from something that might not be accepted by all," Chiba said. "We need to allow the gray zone to exist as a necessary evil."

Child abuse in Japan

Porn site recruits teenage girls

Statistics show that child pornography remains a big problem in Japan.

Duke student: My porn career is 'freeing'

The U.S. State Department's 2013 report on human rights practices in Japan labels the country "an international hub for the production and trafficking of child pornography."

It cited Japanese police data showing the number of child pornography investigations in 2012 rose 9.7% from a year earlier to a record of 1,596. The cases involved 1,264 child victims, almost twice as many as in the previous year.

Navy: Blue Angels dove into porn

Under the new law, people in possession of child pornography have one year to dispose of it before they risk prosecution.

Sexually explicit Japan manga evades new laws on child pornography

CNN's Junko Ogura and Will Ripley contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT