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Japan Fights Animated Child Porn

Japan Fights Animated Child Porn
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May 25, 2005 6:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
TOKYO – Despite stringent laws against the distribution, sale and display of child pornography, Japanese government officials are battling an entirely new sub-culture of anime and hentai adult comics that feature animated depictions of child pornography.

Typical anime-style comics portray female characters as schoolgirls, but a new trend being spotted in the underground market of magazines, videos and video games has reportedly pushed the envelope even further into a grey area that has activists and lawmakers up in arms.

According to The Japan Times, animated pornography is regulated by Article 175 of the Criminal Code that prohibits obscene publications but does not cover animated depictions of child exploitation. Additionally, Japanese lawmakers are debating whether the anime market is protected by free speech.

Japan's recent predicament mirrors similar arguments in the United States over whether morphed depictions of non-real children in sexual imagery constitutes actual child pornography.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out a federal law outlawing images that resemble nude children under 18 years old on the basis that if the image was generated by a computer, no actual child was harmed in the process. Justices felt that banning "morphed" porn was similar to "prohibiting dirty thoughts."

The 6-3 ruling, which overturned the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act, claimed that Congress went too far and violated the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech.

Estimates on the anime cartoon market claim there are currently 2,000 magazine and video titles in circulation.

So far, lawmakers have failed to curb the problem, but various ethics organizations have formed with the intent to track the growing problem and censor obscene and illegal images of children.

"Using real children in pornography is an abuse, and those children suffer an additional ordeal as those materials are distributed," Hisashi Sonoda, a professor of criminal and information law at Konan University in Kobe, said. "Comic books and animation computer games involve no real children as victims."

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