Why hasn’t Japan banned child-pornography comics?
By James Fletcher
BBC News, Tokyo
Japan’s comics and cartoons – known as manga and anime – are a huge cultural industry and famous around the world. But some are shocking, featuring children in sexually explicit scenarios. Why has Japan decided against banning this material?
It’s a Sunday afternoon in Tokyo and Sunshine Creation is in full swing. Thousands of manga fans, mostly men, crowd into an exhibition centre, poring over manga comic magazines laid out for sale on trestle tables snaking around the rooms.
Posters of elfin-faced, doe-eyed cartoon heroines, many of them scantily clad and impossibly proportioned, turn the cavernous space into a riot of colour.
“This area is mainly dealing with sexual creations,” explains Hide, one of the event organisers.
We stop at one table where the covers on display feature two topless girls. To my eyes they look to be in their early or pre-teens, and the stories show them engaged in explicit sexual acts.
Several other stands are selling similar material. It would certainly be considered controversial, and possibly illegal, in the UK, Australia or Canada, but here it’s no big deal.
“Everyone knows that child abuse is not a good thing,” Hide says. “But having that kind of emotion is free, enjoying imagining some sexual situation with a child is not prohibited.” His candour takes me by surprise. He then introduces me to the word “Lolicon”, short for “Lolita complex” – the name for manga featuring young girls engaged in sexually explicit scenarios. It can involve incest, rape and other taboos, though Hide’s tastes lie more with high-school romance.”I like young-girl sexual creations, Lolicon is just one hobby of my many hobbies,” he says.I ask what his wife, standing nearby, thinks of his “hobby”.
“She probably thinks no problem,” he replies. “Because she loves young boys sexually interacting with each other.”Material like this is a tiny part of Japan’s huge manga industry, which generates around US $3.6bn in sales annually. But it attracts a lot of attention and controversy.
“By 2020… we have to turn Japan into a country which people don’t call a perverted culture” Kazuna Kanajiri(Child protection campaigner)