Computer Crime Research Center


US official urges Japan to step up child porn battle

Date: April 19, 2008

OKYO (AFP) — A US justice department official urged Japan on Friday to ban individual possession of child pornography as the country comes under pressure to step up its efforts to tackle the problem.

Andrew Oosterbaan, head of the department's child exploitation and obscenity section, said the Internet was encouraging the creation and sharing of "horrific" images, including of tortured and sexually abused infants and toddlers.

"We must understand that a part of the reason this is difficult (to beat) is people everywhere have a lack of understanding why possession is as serious as any other crime of child pornography," he told a press conference here.

US police can access the computers of those who possess child porn to prevent further harm to children, said Oosterbaan, who has called on lawmakers to criminalise individual possession of such porn during his Japan visit.

"We are focusing on possessors because we know when we get that computer, there is a good chance the computer is going to show us that he was producing, that he was banking images, that he was abusing children, making images," he said.

"Or, we are going to find out that the computer belongs to a teacher or a minister or a priest. While you are not going to prosecute the problem away, it's important that you don't ignore it either," he said.

The United States and other developed countries, as well as the United Nations Children's Fund, have accused Japan of laxity in allowing child pornography.

Japan, once under fierce criticism as a major producer of child pornography, passed a law in 1999 banning the production and sale of sexually arousing photos, videos and other materials involving children aged below 18.

Possession of such materials for commercial purposes or other distribution is also banned -- though for individual use it is not.

Japan's ruling parties are now moving to review child pornography laws to close the loophole allowing individual possession.

Oosterbaan said the problem in Japan was not any worse than in other nations, adding that the United States has struggled with it despite having strict laws.

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