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Japan Targets Child Sex Trade

February 2, 2000 · 

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Published in Today
(February 02, 2000)

TOKYO — Naked girl still beckon from the magazines read with nonchalant aplomb by salarymen headed home from the office on the crowded subways.

But Japan is hoping a new law on pornography and child prostitution will help it shed its image as one of the most licentious capitals in Asia.

The law, which took effect in November, makes it a crime to distribute child pornography or solicit minors for sexual purposes either in Japan or abroad, where the Japanese have a long and sordid reputation for their “sex tourism” and recruitment of Asian women to work in Japanese brothels.

The Diet, Japan’s parliament backed away from making possession of pornography a crime leaving untouched the titillating, maazines and adult comics read openly here, many with explicit pictures of young-looking girls.

But the message already is having some effect. The largest daily newspaperYomiuri himbun, announced this month it would no longer accept advertising from two racy weekly magazines. The leering ads, with suggestive models and bluntly sexual language, had been regular and lucrative advertisements for the daily newspaper.

The newspaper said it was making the move because of complaints “both inside and outside our company” about the sexual content of the ads. While,Yomiuri Shimbun did not mention the new law, it is clear the legislation — passed after three years of debate — is helping set a new tone for Japanese sex-related consumerism.

“What we are doing is to punish what was not being taken seriously in the past in this country. It requires a change in the Japanese public’s way of thinking,” said Mayuini Mofiyama, the chiet’spotisor of the legislation in the Diet.

“In Asia, Japan has the, worst record of child sexual exploitation,” Korivama: told an Asian-Pacific, conference on Human Trafficking in Tokyo last week. “It is said that 80 percent of the child pornography distributed in the world is made in Japan.”

And Japan’s unrepentant attitude about the subject has sullied its image, she said, evidenced by a Time magazine cover stor last year entitled “Japan’s Shame.” “It is a grave situation when Japan’s dignity and honor are questioned” because of sex, Moriyama said.

The statute makes it illegal to pay for sex with anyone under age 18, as well as to traffic minors for sex, and to produce, distribute or sell child pornography.

Japanese whether they are in or outside the country, a sweeping move that put a quick chill on advertisements for “sex tourism” to Korea. Thailand, the Philippines and other Asian countries.

By DOUG STRUCK
The Washington Post

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