The Fundamentals of Commercial Child Sexual Exploitation in Japan

I came across a website – the Nation By Nation section of – which contains some very interesting information on the status of human rights in Japan. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t give a bibliography, so I don’t know who most of their sources are, though they do reference the U.S. State Department’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Scrolling down to section 6, I found some information that was new to me.

  • Prostitution is illegal in Japan, but narrowly defined. Many sexual acts for pay that would be considered prostitution in other countries are legal.
  • The penalty for child prostitution is imprisonment with labor for not more than three years or a fine of not more than one million yen for offenders, including the intermediary and the person involved in solicitation.
  • The practice of “enjo-kosai” (compensated dating) and easy facilitation by means of online dating, social networking, and “delivery health” (call girl or escort service) sites made de facto domestic child sex tourism a problem.
  • The minimum age for consensual sex varies with jurisdiction and ranges from 13 to 18. The penalty for statutory rape is not less than two years’ imprisonment at forced labor.
  • The penalty for distributing child pornography is imprisonment with labor for not more than three years or a fine not exceeding three million yen.
  • Possession of child pornography is not illegal, which makes it difficult for police to obtain search warrants, preventing them from effectively enforcing existing child pornography laws or participating in international law enforcement efforts in this area.
  • In response to increased police enforcement, many sex business operators shifted from storefront businesses to “delivery” escort services. The shift to Internet-based solicitation and procurement made it much harder to measure the extent to which employers exploited victims of trafficking.

The site made a couple of points which I was already aware of, but I’d really like to know who their source was:

  • Along with child pornography involving real victims, some law enforcement and pedophilia experts stated that child molesters used cartoons and comics depicting child pornography to seduce children. The National Police Agency (and Japan Federation of Bar Associations) says that there is no proof to link this to the sexual endangerment of children.
  • Other experts believed the situation could be harmful to children by creating a culture that appears to accept sexual intercourse with children or violence against children.
  • Internet service providers acknowledged that the country was a hub for child pornography, leading to greater victimization of children both domestically and abroad.

The police and Japan Federation of Bar Associations say that the lack of proof to connect simulated child sex exploitation (such as the rape of children in comic books) means that new legislation isn’t warranted. I would like them to explain to me why they think it’s necessary to wait until a sufficient number of children have been sexually abused before they design and implement preventative measures.

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