Lolita merchants feel the heat
Enforcement has been tightened up, but it hasn’t stopped
it. Asia Times
Feb 26, 2007
Japan was slow in updating its child pornography laws to
bring them into line with those of the West.
only in 1999 and 2003 that Japan caught up, with the passage
of new laws that made it illegal to produce, distribute,
sell, possess or trade in child pornography. Before 1999,
it was only illegal to produce it.
enforcement of the new laws has been lax, although that
may have changed in the past month.
and producers of a lucrative fad called "lolicon"
got a wake-up call with the arrest of a publisher last month.
"Lolicon" is a slang portmanteau of the phrase
"Lolita complex", or "Lolita icon".
industry produces photo books and magazines with teenage
and preteen models sometimes as young as eight years old.
format is usually "near nudity" or "implied
nudity", but a recent photo set featuring a 14-year-old
girl went too far.
girl's swimsuit was deliberately made to be see-through.
It was so tight-fitting you could make out the shape of
her genitalia and she'd been posed in such risque positions
that the Metropolitan Police Department decided to arrest
the maker for breaking the law banning child pornography,
even though the girl hadn't actually exposed her bust or
between her legs," a reporter told Weekly Playboy.
arrest was the first of it kind in Japan, in which the child
pornography laws were used in a case where the model was
not actually nude.
similar case in Hong Kong last year, a magazine was ultimately
cleared of a charge of child pornography after it featured
a 14-year-old model in a semi-transparent white dress soaked
cleared on the charge, the editor was admonished for his
lack of judgment.
new case in Japan is proving similar in many ways. If convicted,
the producer could face a maximum of three years in jail
and fine of 100,000 yen.
lolicon industry, up until this arrest, had been quite lucrative
for the Japanese publishing community. The Japan Times reported
that "over three million of the photo books were sold
since the arrest, makers of products featuring teens in
erotic poses have been in a state of panic.
is judged to be overly obscene, people can be arrested for
breaking the Child Pornography Law, even if the model is
dressed in a swimsuit," an employee of a medium-sized
DVD manufacturer producing material featuring models under
15 years old told Weekly Playboy.
shops and wholesalers are now on their guard and have stopped
taking materials featuring models under 15, even if the
product looks like being a surefire seller."
unclear why just the under-15 section of the industry, sometimes
referred to as U15, is being affected as the child prostitution
and pornography laws, clearly define "child" as
a person under the age of 18. Yet the industry continues
to use girls aged 16 and 17.
manga (Japanese for "print cartoons and comics")
industry also remains unaffected by the new crackdown. Pornographic
drawings and cartoons that depict children remain legal
- and lucrative.
for the total value of the Japanese child pornography industry
are hard to come by, but annual sales of manga alone in
2000 amounted to over 600 billion yen (US$5.5 billion),
nearly one quarter of the total sales of all published material.
estimated that 30-40% of manga contains sexual themes or
content, much of it representing schoolgirls of elementary
or junior high school age in themes including rape, sado-masochism
half of the 2,000 pornographic animation titles distributed
in Japan every year, including films and video games, feature
manga are usually short stories, published in media specializing
in the genre and bought predominantly by white-collar men
in their 20s and 30s.
focus of these stories is taboo relationships, such as between
a teacher and student or brother and sister. Sexual experimentation
between children is another popular theme.
October, the Japanese government issued the results of its
Special Opinion Poll on Harmful Materials, in which 86.5%
of respondents said that manga and art should be subject
to regulation for child pornography, while 90.9% said that
"harmful materials" on the Internet should be
current child pornography laws in Japan do not regulate
manga and art that depict children who are not real, or
"virtual child pornography".