Japan to ban possession of child pornography except comics

Japan, the only country among the G7 nations that does not prohibit possession of child pornography, has taken an important step towards making it illegal although the law does not include comics.

IANS| Last Updated: Jun 05, 2014, 21:36 PM IST

Tokyo: Japan, the only country among the G7 nations that does not prohibit possession of child pornography, has taken an important step towards making it illegal although the law does not include comics, animated drawings or digital simulations.

The main parties reached an agreement Wednesday in a parliamentary committee that will pass a draft bill once approved by the House in its current session which ends June 22, Japanese daily Asahi reported.

The current legislation, passed in 1999, bans the production and distribution of child pornography, but not its possession.

The draft includes a penalty of one million yen (7,170 euros) and imprisonment of up to one year in case the norms are not complied with.

Japan, along with Russia and the United States, is the largest generator of internet traffic with respect to child pornography.

The definition of child pornography still remains limited to only real images of children, excluding any type of illustration in the form of comics, animated products or digital creations.

Three political parties proposed the inclusion of a section in the future law stating "the investigation of possible links between materials related to child pornography in manga (comics), animation, computer graphics and other media and the violation of the rights of the children".

The publishing industry, audio-visual content creators, cartoonists and popular illustrators are pressing for the withdrawal of the draft.

These influential industries have blocked various initiatives aimed at limiting the production and distribution of such contents.

They argue that these recreations do not violate children`s rights and that an expansion of the definition of child pornography could result in a vague and subjective concept that would curb the freedom of expression.
The groups in favour of expanding the law argue that these products promote undesirable behaviour.
Once approved, the law will have an enormous economic impact on the publishers and producers, as 30 percent of the manga industry constitutes erotic content, in many cases depicting sex with or between minors.