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35 Child. Legal Rts. J. 197 (2015)
Around the World: Protecting Victims of Child Pornography in Japan

handle is hein.journals/clrj35 and id is 203 raw text is: 






Around the World: Protecting Victims of Child Pornography in Japan

                              By Lauren P. Schroeder

       The rise of the Internet and the digital age in the last few decades has significantly
multiplied the growth of the child pornography market. Such advances have made the
child pornography market one of the fastest growing businesses on the Internet. Further,
the global nature of the Internet has made child pornography an international problem.
For instance, a recent investigation into a child pornography ring led to the arrest of 350
persons across six continents and involved over fifty countries. The worldwide scope of
child pornography and vast number of laws and legal systems involved can make the
prosecution of offenders and recovery for victims difficult.
       By 1990, it was illegal to possess child pornography throughout a large portion of
the United States. In contrast, the possession of such material in Japan was legal until
2014. Across cultures, child pornography victims face severe psychological damage. This
damage is intensified by the knowledge that images of their sexual abuse can be accessed
online and possessed across the world indefinitely. Japan's recent child pornography law
is a welcome step, as Japan has long been criticized as a major production center of child
pornography circulating around the world. Studies have shown that between 2011 and
2012, the number of child abuse victims in Japan jumped almost twenty percent. This
indicates a need for tougher laws addressing child abuse, including the abuse of children
through child pornography. Unfortunately, Japan's new law fails to prohibit the
possession of manga and anime, two popular forms of Japanese animated media, which
can depict violent sexual abuse of children. Tolerating such images of child sexual abuse
can harm children and lead to further psychological damage to victims of child
pornography. This failure is not unique to Japan and will contribute to a significant
problem in protecting victims of child pornography worldwide.
       In Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, the Supreme Court of the United States
gave First Amendment protection to virtual child pornography. This child pornography
was created through computer technology, without the use of real children, but still has
the potential for devastating effects on victims of child pornography. The Supreme Court
noted that pedophiles might use the materials to encourage or groom children to engage
in sexual activity or might be encouraged by the virtual media to engage in the creation,
distribution, and possession of child pornography involving real children. The Court
reasoned that it is impossible to ban the idea of minors engaging in sexual activity,
because doing so would ban materials beyond those imitating real child pornography,
such as prominent films and famous books like Romeo & Juliet. Fortunately, the U.S.
government followed the Ashcroft decision with legislation banning obscene virtual
child pornography. This allows for courts to distinguish hardcore pornography that
involves real or apparent minors from depictions of sexual activity with artistic value,
such as Romeo & Juliet. Japan has made no such distinction and continues to protect
animated child pornography.
       Virtual child pornography, however, like that at issue in Ashcroft or in Japanese
animation, still has the potential to severely harm children. Not only can it be used to

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