Japan Just Now Got Around to Banning Possession of Child Pornography

Japan finally banned the possession of child pornography—as of today. Apparently, until today, possession of child pornography was totally legal in Japan!

Did it just, like, keep falling to the bottom of their to-do list? "Well, you know, it got busy during the holidays, and then there was alllll this email to sort through, and before you know it another week's gone and you still haven't banned possession of child pornography." Happens to the best of us.

The New York Times reports that Japan banned the production and distribution of child porn in 1999, but didn't touch possession. But many began clamoring for stricter rules; Tokyo instituted a citywide ban three years ago, for instance:

Social pressure had also built up, as the Japanese police blamed the continuing legality of child pornography for a surge in criminal cases involving its production and circulation. Across Japan, the number of such criminal cases has jumped tenfold since 2000, to 1,644 cases last year, according to the National Police Agency.

Anybody who currently possesses child pornography has a year to get rid of their stash. (Which seems like a pretty generous grace period? Goddamn, y'all.)

"For too long, there was a poor understanding of children's rights. Ultimately, that's why it's taken so long," bill backer Kiyohiko Toyama told Reuters. "By outlawing the possession of child pornography with the intent to satisfy sexual interest, we make it harder for people to trade in such material."

However: The law does not apply to sexually explicit content involving young children in anime and manga. Japanese publishers apparently fought hard against any restrictions; it seems worth noting that manga in particular makes an assload (technical term) of money. Ultimately, legislators made an exception based on freedom of expression and the fact its production doesn't involve real children. Wouldn't want to get CRAZY, here!

Photo via Perati Komson/Shutterstock.