Japan Leading the Fight against Child Exploitation
John de Boer (University of Tokyo)
Between December 17-20, Japan will host the second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. The objective of this conference is to create "zero tolerance" of child prostitution. Over the past week, the media has stepped up its campaign against the sexual enslavement of children with most demanding that concrete measures be developed to combat this crime.
According to June Kane, the communication advisor to the congress, Japan has made significant progress in its fight against child porn since the first world congress held in Stockholm in 1996. Refuting a Daily Yomiuri article that trashed Japan's track record (December 13), Kane pointed out that while Japan was the major source of child pornography until 1998 when it produced 80 per cent of all child pornography found on the Internet it has since cleaned up its act. Japan no longer figures in the top three sources of child pornography. According to a recently published Unicef report entitled "Profiting from Abuse," the US tops the list followed by India and Thailand (Letter to the Editor, December 16). Despite Japan's progress the battle against this crime is a difficult one. 'Save the Children' (an international NGO that campaigns for children's rights) estimates that over one million children are forced into the sex industry each year (Oneworld.net, December 14). Today, the child sex trade represents a multibillion-dollar industry.
What is needed is a coordinated global strategy against criminals who abuse these children. Surprisingly, laws banning child pornography and rape have been slow in coming. According to June Kane, it took until 1999 for Japan to adopt a law banning child pornography and prostitution. Unicef reports that the most common causes for child exploitation are poverty, gender discrimination and war. Child traffickers and child molesters take advantage of the vulnerability children face in these situations to abuse them even further.
Japan has taken vital steps towards the protection of children and the prosecution of offenders over the past several years. It is also playing a central role in the fight against this crime by hosting the second world congress. Expectations are high, yet a significant amount of work remains. It is imperative that Japan takes the lead to ensure that a globally coordinated strategy be created in order to punish perpetrators of this heinous crime.
- June Kane, "Letter to the editor: Info vital against child porn," December 16, 2001
- Rafael D. Frankel, "Child trafficking takes new forms in Southeast Asia," Christian Science Monitor, December 16, 2001
- Kalyani, "Tougher Measures Needed to Stamp out Child Sex Trade, says UN," OneWorld South Asia, December 14, 2001
- "Confab to fight Net child porn," Daily Yomiuri, December 13, 2001.