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Japan Child Porn Ban Brings Nation in Line With Industrial Peers

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Japan Bans Child Pornography
A man walks past an advertisement for animated porn DVDs at a second-hand DVD sstore in Tokyo. The Japanese are among the world’s biggest consumers of pornography in a country that has a fascination with “junior idols.” The legislation doesn’t apply to pornographic images in popular Japanese comics known as manga. Photographer: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Japan became one of the last industrialized nations to ban the possession of child pornography, with legislation expanding a 15-year-old prohibition on the production and distribution of porn.

The lower house of parliament passed the law yesterday, making possession of child pornography punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of as much as 1 million yen ($9,800).

Japan has come under increasing pressure to take action to protect children from exploitation since the local branch of the United Nations Children’s Fund in 2008 denounced the government’s failure to act. The Japanese are among the world’s biggest consumers of pornography in a country that has a fascination with “junior idols,” young models that often appear scantily clad in mainstream fashion ads.

“Japan is known to be one of the largest exporters and buyers of child pornography, and the law is insufficient,” Hong Kong-born pop singer Agnes Chan, who serves as UNICEF goodwill ambassador to Japan, said at a March 2010 event promoting a campaign that gathered 115,000 signatures from Japanese demanding stronger child pornography laws.

The new ban on child porn possession won’t go into effect for another year and the legislation doesn’t apply to pornographic images in popular Japanese comics known as manga. The measure still needs final approval from the upper house and a vote should be held before the the end of the parliamentary session on June 22.

“In the application of this law, care must be taken not to infringe unjustly on the rights of the people,” the government said in a summary of the legislation posted on its website. “There must be no deviation from the original purpose of the law, which is to protect children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”

The passage of the legislation would leave Russia as the biggest industrial nation that doesn’t ban possession of child pornography.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Davis in Hong Kong at abdavis@bloomberg.net; Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net Russell Ward, Neil Western

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