To show its dedication in fighting child pornography, Japan’s Diet is set to pass in their current session a revised bill that would criminalize the possession of child pornography. The revised bill hopes to address a gap, often used by offenders to escape the law, in the current child pornography prohibition law that only outlaw production and distribution, while possession of it is still not punishable by law.
In the revised bill, which was both agreed upon by the ruling and opposition parties in the Diet, a new definition to child pornography was added. The previous draft submitted has defined it as “posing of children wearing no or little clothing” and “to escalate sexual desire or stimulate it,” the revised bill included a more precise description, establishing that “children’s sexual body parts (genitals or areas around them, the buttocks and breasts) are exposed in particular or highlighted,” are considered part of the definition as well. Authored by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, opposition parties Democratic Party of Japan, Japan Restoration Party and the Unity Party, the bill passed the Lower House’s Committee on Judicial Affairs last June 4. Apart from the new definition, three from the five party-sponsors planned on adding a supplement to the existing law, which dictates that, “the government will promote research of possible links between materials akin to child pornography in manga, animation, computer graphics and other media and the violation of children’s right.” However, the plan did not push through as the publishing industry and manga artists protested the idea, citing an example from the manga “Doreamon,” where a scene in which a schoolgirl taking a bath might be considered pornographic already if the spirit of that law is followed.
Those who will be found guilty may be fined 1 million yen ($9,800 dollars) or face up to 1 year of imprisonment. Hiromasa Nakai of the Japan Committee for UNICEF lauded the revised bill. He said that while for the longest time there have been differing opinions on whether possession should be punishable, he is glad that Japan is finally applying international standards. Before this, Japan is the only country in the Group of Seven that does not mete punishment over possession of child pornography.
[via The Asahi Shimbun]
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