Japan's Child Porn Ban Excludes Anime and Manga

Tokyo Metropolitan Government has placed separate restrictions on the sale of explicit manga.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government has placed separate restrictions on the sale of explicit manga.
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TOKYO – Japan's newly enacted law banning possession of child pornography will not apply to anime or manga comics, which will still be allowed to feature images of pedophilia. The law passed Japan's upper house of parliament on Wednesday, making it the last country in the developed world to outlaw child pornography.

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A 1999 law made production and distribution of child pornography illegal, but didn't cover possession of such material. Japan has faced external pressure to fall in line with the rest of the world, but also opposition domestically from the large and profitable manga and anime industries, which have argued that it is a freedom of expression issue.

The new law will give offenders a year to dispose of offending material before prosecutions are brought. Those who fail to do so will face up to a year in jail and fines of up to ¥1 million ($10,000).

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been restricting the sale of manga with some sexual themes to minors since 2011.

“We must fight against a tendency of looking at children as sexual objects," Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki told parliament on Tuesday during the debate of the bill.

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While Japanese manga and anime have fans worldwide, much of the more extreme material gets little exposure outside the country. Depictions of violence, rape, incest and a whole host of fetishes can be found in manga and anime. Many believe the fantastical nature of the medium mean the themes are harmless, as Japan enjoys some of the lowest crime rates in the world.  

Japan's sexual mores can be more than a little puzzling to outsiders. Public displays of affection are rare, though the country supports a huge sex industry and commuters will openly read explicit manga on trains.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair

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