New Japanese Law Bans Child Abuse Images, Yet Anime and Games Still Allowed Suggestive Depictions
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Fines and prison terms introduced for the former
One challenging reality that faces gamers, and the press, is the sexualised portrayal of children in some games and anime from Japan. Though some examples can occasionally be seen in Western products, it's an issue prevalent in Japan due to different laws and attitudes in the country. Recent examples on Nintendo systems include Senran Kagura Burst and Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars; the latter took a — mostly — subtle approach to a concept of 'classmating' though had plenty of sexual jokes, while the former is a little more explicit (by 3DS game standards) in showing teenage girls in sexual poses and outfits.
There are plenty of examples out there, and it seems that'll continue to be the case. The country's parliament has passed a new law that now criminalises the possession of child abuse images, with up to one year imprisonment and fines confirmed — there'll be a one year period of grace for those that own this content to dispose of it. While that has been praised by child advocates, the exclusion of these rules in comics, anime and video games means that we're unlikely to see any change in these virtual portrayals of young girls. These exclusions were apparently included as some argued that to ban these kinds of media would violate the country's constitutional right to free speech.
Everything we see in licensed games goes through rating processes, of course, and primarily utilise allusion and suggestion above explicit portrayal — that won't stop the debate over whether these games should be part of the mainstream market, of course. The recent law change in Japan is certainly a step forward in many respects, though we expect plenty will argue that steps to apply tighter rules on entertainment such as video games are still needed.
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