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Japan Outlaws Child Porn Possession

  • VOA News

Japan's parliament has approved a measure criminalizing the possession of child pornography, in a move that follows years of international pressure.

Under the new law, those found guilty of possessing child pornography will be jailed for up to a year or face a fine of about $10,000.

Japan was the only remaining major developed country that had not banned child porn possession. It outlawed production and distribution in 1999.

Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said his agency worked with Japanese officials for years to bring about the new law.

"Japan is a global leader in so many ways," said Allen. "It is a business leader, a member of the OECD, but for a host of reasons that I think includes legal, cultural and others, Japan has been really slow on this issue."

The new law is expected to take effect next month, but penalties for child porn possession will not be enforced for a year, in hopes many people will dispose of the material.

Japan's upper house of parliament on Wednesday easily passed the bill, which had already cleared the lower house earlier this month.

Although the country took longer than its economic peers to enact reforms, Allen is looking to Japan to trigger further changes around the globe, especially in Asia and Latin America.

"There [are] still some very significant countries that do not criminalize possession, including China, Russia, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ukraine, Ecuador and others. So we hope that the action of Japan will stimulate greater awareness and greater action in parliaments in the rest of the world," said Allen.

The new law does not, however, cover anime videos, computer-generated graphics or the so-called manga comics that sometimes feature sexually explicit images of children.

Some lawmakers and other critics said they feared that such a crackdown on animated images or drawings would endanger free speech.
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