Japan starts to ban possession of child porn images

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Japan starts to ban possession of child porn imagesECPAT/STOP Japan

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan on Wednesday started to ban the possession by individuals of pornographic photos and videos of children amid growing international criticism that only Japan has overlooked such acts among the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

After Japan’s Diet amended the law on punishment of activities relating to child prostitution and child pornography, the revised law took effect on July 15 last year. But a one-year moratorium was put in place in order to give individuals who had such images time to dispose of them.

Under the revised law, individuals may face a prison term of up to one year or a fine of up to 1 million yen for possession of pornographic images of children.

The revised law defines child pornographic photos and videos as those which are intended to expose or focus on children’s sexual parts.

Meanwhile, “manga” comics, animations and computer graphics are not subject to punishment under the revised law in light of freedom of expression.

There are concerns from legal experts that investigative authorities might abuse the law.

The number of child pornography cases covered by law enforcement by the country’s police stood at 1,828 in 2014, nearly doubling from 2009.

“We would like to continue to gear up for the crackdown,” said an official of the National Police Agency, which conducted a nationwide intensive patrol in cyberspace over the month through Tuesday.

“Requests (from owners) to scrap porn photos and DVDs surged within this one year,” said Toru Okumura, an Osaka-based lawyer who has dealt with a large number of child porn cases.

Noting that individuals might be investigated by police based on purchase history even if they no longer have child porn images, Okumura said the impact of the law revision was enormous.

Given possible ambiguous cases including images of individuals’ own children who are naked as part of their growth records, Okumura said it is desirable to consult a lawyer if it would be hard to tell whether such cases could violate the law.

July 15, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)

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