Japan makes child porn possession illegal

The law does not apply to animation or manga art.
By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  June 18, 2014 at 12:55 PM
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TOKYO, June 18 (UPI) -- Japan has banned possession of child pornography, becoming one of the last countries in the developed world to do so after ongoing international pressure.

The country was the only one in the 34-member global Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development lacking a similar law. Japan banned the production and distribution, but not possession, of child pornography in 1999.

The new amendment to the 1999 law calls for a year in jail or a fine, up to $10,000, for anyone in possession of child sex-abuse images. Those currently in possession of child pornography have a one-year grace period to get rid of their collections.

The prohibition does not apply to animation, or to the popular comic art form manga. Artists in the manga style, publishers and free-speech proponents opposed early proposals of the law, saying it would compromise freedom of expression and lead to arbitrary decisions by authorities.

Opponents of the law also noted Japan is a country that once endured severe censorship by government.

A statement posted several days ago, on the website of the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, which represents over 90 publishing companies, noted the law could "put a strain" on artists and on the publishing industry.

"The goal of the law itself is to protect children from crime," Daisuke Okeda, a lawyer for the Japan Animation Creators Association, told CNN. "Banning such expression in animation under this law would not satisfy the goal of the law."

Child sex-abuse crimes are on the rise in Japan, with 1,644 cases reported in 2013, a figure ten times higher than in 2003. Police say the majority of cases involve sharing or selling photos or videos online.

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