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Japan Subculture Research Center

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Child pornography, government corruption color 2010 US Report On Human Rights in Japan


May 13, 2011

One that totally flew under our radar:

On April 11, the US State Department released their 2010 Human Rights Report for Japan, detailing human rights conditions on everything from the right to collective bargaining to institutionalized hazing. While Japan is hardly a major violator like, say, friendly neighbours China and North Korea, it is surprising (and in some cases, unfortunately, not so surprising) to see some of the areas where the country falls short of ideal.

As brought to our attention via Polaris Project:

“Child prostitution is illegal, with a penalty of imprisonment with labor for up to three years or a fine of up to one million yen ($12,150) for offenders, including the intermediary and the person involved in solicitation. However, 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 country continued to be an international hub for the production and trafficking of child pornography. The distribution of child pornography is illegal; the penalty is imprisonment with labor for not more than three years or a fine not exceeding three million yen ($36,460). … The law does not criminalize the simple possession of child pornography, which often depicts the brutal sexual abuse of small children. While this continues to hamper police efforts to effectively enforce existing child pornography laws and fully participate in international law enforcement in this area, child pornography investigations increased 40 percent in 2009 to 935 cases. New measures announced in July included instructing Internet service providers to voluntarily block Internet access to child pornography, increased cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies, and boosting resources for investigations … But children’s advocates criticized the measure to block access, noting that it does not require Internet service and cellular data providers to block the images and, in fact, the law prohibits providers from censuring any user access.

“The new measures also do not address the unfettered availability of sexually explicit cartoons, comics, and video games. While the NPA maintained that no link has been established between these animated images and child victimization, other experts suggested the situation harms children by creating a culture that appears to accept sexual abuse of children.”

This one is hardly a revelation, as any long-time JSRC reader would know. Other highlights:

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

“The government continued to deny death-row inmates and their families information about the date of execution. Families of condemned prisoners were notified of the execution after the fact.”

“An NGO reported that prisoners facing the death penalty were sometimes kept in solitary confinement for decades and concluded that a number of these prisoners had become mentally ill as a result but that requests for mental health records of death-row inmates were summarily denied.”

Trial Procedures

“According to NGOs, the majority of indicted detainees confessed while in police custody. Safeguards exist so that suspects cannot be compelled to confess to a crime or be convicted when a confession is the only evidence. In 2009 the National Public Safety Commission issued regulations prohibiting police from touching suspects (unless unavoidable), exerting force, threatening them, keeping them in fixed postures for long periods, verbally abusing them, or offering them favors in return for a confession. Defense counsel is not allowed to be present during interrogations.

“NGOs asserted that the new rules were not adequately enforced and that prisoners continued to be subjected to interrogation sessions of eight to 12 hours in length, during which detainees were handcuffed to a chair for the entire period and aggressive questioning techniques were used. NGOs also stated that, although the practice is illegal, interrogators sometimes offered bail in exchange for a detained person proffering a confession.”

“The language barrier was a serious problem for foreign defendants. No guidelines exist to ensure effective communication between judges, lawyers, and non-Japanese-speaking defendants. Several foreign detainees claimed that police urged them to sign statements in Japanese that they could not understand and that were not translated adequately. No standard licensing or qualification system existed for court interpreters, and trials proceeded even if no translation or interpretation was provided, despite the government’s claims that trials cannot proceed unless translation or interpreting is provided.”

Protection of Refugees

“The UN CAT, NGOs, and lawyers criticized the indefinite and often long period of detention between the rejection of an application for asylum and deportation. The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants expressed concern about the policy of detaining asylum seekers and other irregular migrants for prolonged periods, in some cases for as long as three years.”

“Refugees faced the same patterns of discrimination that other foreigners did: reduced access to housing, education, and employment. Except for those who met the conditions stated above, persons whose refugee status was pending or on appeal did not have the legal right to work or receive social welfare, rendering them completely dependent on overcrowded government shelters, illegal employment not subject to labor law oversight, or NGO assistance.”

Official Corruption and Government Transparency

“Independent academic experts stated that ties between politicians, bureaucrats, and businessmen were close and that corruption remained a concern. During the first half of the year, the NPA reported arrests in 20 cases of bribery and four cases of bid rigging. There were regular media reports of investigations into financial and accounting irregularities involving high-profile politicians and government officials, including a decision by a civilian panel requiring that prosecutors indict former DPJ secretary general Ichiro Ozawa.”

Persons With Disabilities

“According to NGOs there were an estimated 20,000 homeless persons who could not receive old-age pensions, disability pensions, and livelihood protection allowances because they were considered to be without residence. NGOs reported that, due to inadequate protection by the social safety net and the social stigma against homelessness, a significant number of elderly citizens and homeless individuals committed petty crimes to obtain the food and shelter provided by life in prison. Surveys showed that persons with mental disabilities may have accounted for up to 60 percent of the repeat-offender population in some prisons. Surveys also showed a significant percentage of repeat offenders were homeless persons who were not receiving social services. Police and prison authorities were particularly slow providing treatment of mental illness and had no protocol for offering psychiatric therapy.”

And the list goes on. Despite these infringements, Japan received positive remarks on things like “Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life”, “Internet Freedom”, and “Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. According to the report, anti-Semitism was absolutely no problem in Japan as of last year, meaning Jake is safe in Japan from Jew haters.

Jake–Mazel tov, Sarah-cham! Wow, that’s a depressing read.  I wonder if freedom from being recklessly exposed to nuclear radiation by a criminally negligent power company that rhymes with KEPCO is also a human right? Because if it is, wow, our human rights have all been violated.

23 thoughts on “Child pornography, government corruption color 2010 US Report On Human Rights in Japan”
  1. “The new measures also do not address the unfettered availability of sexually explicit cartoons, comics, and video games. While the NPA maintained that no link has been established between these animated images and child victimization, other experts suggested the situation harms children by creating a culture that appears to accept sexual abuse of children.”

    This is the only part of the report I have a problem with. Did they go into any detail about who these “other experts” are? If they didn’t, it’s an example of weasel words known as the unsupported attribution.

    Of course, the claim that sexually explicit anime creates a culture that victimizes children is patently absurd to begin with. Did first person shooter video games create a culture of violence? Did The 120 Days of Sodom create a culture of amoralistic murder orgys? Of course not. Freedom of expression protects our right to depict illegal and immoral acts in fiction, provided nobody is actually harmed in the process of creation.

    Harsher measures against child pornography are certainly welcome. However, as long as no children were victimized in the creation of these sexually explicit anime, then they should be protected as free speech.

    1. I find sexually explicit anime distasteful but inclined to agree that they may deserve protection as free speech. However, banning them to children under 18, I see as reasonable. Thank you for commenting.

  2. I would hope that the U.S. State Department would issue a similar report on the U.S.

    I find it interesting in light of recent events in Wisconsin, Indiana and elsewhere that the “US State Department released their 2010 Human Rights Report for Japan, detailing human rights conditions on everything from the right to collective bargaining…”. If the State Department considers collective bargaining as part of Human Rights, I wonder how Wisconsin’s current governor rates.

    I’d also love to see their ratings of U.S. Internet freedom (Wikileaks), official corruption (lobbyist influence), Trial Procedures (military commissions), Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman… (Manning). If they are going to rate other countries, it would be good to see the U.S.’s own rating in comparison if that is assumed to be the standard to be judged by.

  3. It is painful to read some of this. What is the logic behind the rule that you need an address in order to get social services even if you are homeless? In a society where the family is supposed to support you first before the state, is it just a last ditch effort to deny that homeless people do in fact exist?

  4. Jon – Comments like yours are the reason I can no longer defend anime. And just the fact that you try to defend it on grounds of “free speech” is really sickening. Yes, manga/anime depicting children in sexual situations creates a culture that either allows or turns a blind eye to the sexualization of children. It’s wrong and repulsive and should be banned.

  5. I find offensive the idea that works of fantasy, even sexually depraved fantasies, could somehow affect what is acceptable in reality. Rape fantasies are never going to make rape acceptable in reality. Murder fantasies are never going to make murder acceptable in reality. Similarly, child sex fantasies are never going to make child sex acceptable in reality. To imply otherwise is ridiculous.

    Children understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Why do some people think that adults don’t?

    1. The main caveat I have is that comic books depicting sexual intercourse between adults and children are often used to indoctrinate the victims. I see no issue with limiting access to those materials to those over 18.

  6. The issues highlighted in this report all deserve to be publicized. They are areas that Japan clearly needs to improve. Still, I find it difficult to stomach the concept of a human rights report published by the Americans. Shouldn’t they work on their own human rights issues before criticizing others? Not to defend Japan’s record, but America’s human rights record is clearly far worse. American arrogance never fails to amaze me.

  7. I kind of feel like…antisemitism isn’t a problem in Japan because.. people.. don’t know what it is? Can anyone verify this for me? People used to look at my friend like she was crazy when she said she was Jewish – they had no idea what ユダヤ人 meant. They were like… what does that mean? Tell us about Christmas.
    I dunno. Maybe it was just because we were out in the sticks in Tochigi?

  8. Bridget: I agree with you. I have heard Japanese people at times say some awful things about Jews and when I questioned them it becomes clear that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. It seems to me that most of what could be called anti-Semitism in Japan is based on ignorance, second-hand bigotry derived from anti-Jewish sentiment in the American or European media, and the occasional wacky anti-Jewish conspiracy theory paperback either written by some Japanese nutcase or translated by one.

  9. Jake: Excellent point. As an American who values free speech and as a fan of creative works and comics in particular, I’ll often jump in to defend them. When it comes to how they could be used in actual crimes in the real world, I am woefully naive. Thanks.

  10. Why would foreigners sign a document in police custody if they don’t know what it says? Do they bring it in with a bowl of katsudon and tell you it’s a receipt or is your mind in too much anguish from having to sit seiza for hours that you can’t think straight?

    1. Bob, they are often given a summary translation of what the documents says verbally by an underpaid and incompetent interpreter and then sign it. A foreigner should never sign a document not written in their own language in police or legal matters.

  11. I agree wholeheartedly, Jake. It’s like the old adage, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Protecting sexually explicit anime as free speech but limiting them to 18+ audiences seems like the best solution.

  12. Jake you are not safe.
    Anti-semitism is alive and well in Japan. Where has State been?
    In the Henken Jizai column in the December 23, 2010 edition of Shukan Shincho, Masayuki Takayama wrote an article called “Bamboo Strings” basically calling Lester Tenney a lying Jew for telling his story of surviving the Bataan Death March and the tortures he endured as a POW of Japan.
    You can find the translation here: http://newasiapolicypoint.blogspot.com/search/label/POWs

  13. Armchair Asia is right, Jake. You’d better get the hell out of Japan! The anti-Semites are after you! Of course, my money is on the yakuza to get you first.

  14. EJH, don’t worry. Jake is protected by the Mossad and CIA. 😉

    I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I just want to give my opinions on the child porn anime/manga debate. I actually know personally some people who like to watch hentai with pretty young looking girls in it. And though I’m not interested in that stuff, I have no problem with their hobby, since I know they view these animated girls, and real persons in a completely different way, and would in no way enjoy seeing an actual real person tied up and being raped by tentacles.

    What is ACTUALLY creating a culture where child abuse is viewed as tolerated and silently accepted is legal posession of child porn, unwillingness by politicians to take up the issue, teen idol business with their bikini shoots of children in their early teens that you can see in magazines sold in every kiosk, and all that other stuff.

  15. “While the NPA maintained that no link has been established between these animated images and child victimization, other experts suggested the situation harms children by creating a culture that appears to accept sexual abuse of children.””

    That about says it all doesn’t it? I wouldn’t even fucking believe it except I live here….so I know that quote is not some sick fucks attempt at a joke. They are serious(ly) fucked up in the head.

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