In 1999, Japan outlawed the production and distribution of child pornography. The law was updated in 2004, but owning child porn remained legal. The fact that Japan was the only OECD country with legalised CSEC has often cited by agencies such as Interpol as a major stumbling block in international child porn investigations. On 4 June 2014, the Lower House’s Committee on Judicial Affairs passed a bill to change that.
The new law carries a penalty of up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to 1 million yen. However, a one-year moratorium will be set after the revised law takes effect, which means that people in possession of illegal materials need not destroy them for the next 12 months.
Since 1999, the number of child pornography victims has increased. According to Japan’s National Police Agency, 600 children fall victim to pornography producers in their country every year.
Simulated child pronography is not covered under these laws, so it is still lawful in Japan to produce, distribute and own anime, manga and computer games which depict graphic sexual violence on children.