Cultural relativism? Hardly. It’s the LAW


This morning (Oct 16) an opinion article appeared on JapanToday.com entitled “The fuel for Japan’s pedophiles.” It highlighted the recent incident with Amazon Japan and “candy doll” merchandise sold through a third-party vendor.

As I thought they might, the cultural relativists and cultural apologists supporting Japan’s lax attitude toward pedophilia complained.

“Just face it, Japan’s got a wholly different culture compared to everyone else,” said one. “They’re not as reserved and as conservative as other nations out there, so stop forcing your ‘it’s immoral and wrong’ opinion down everyone’s throat.”

First of all…Japan *isn’t* conservative and reserved? Uh. Talk to PM Abe and get back to me on that.

Second, this is not an “it’s OK, it’s Japan, it’s a different culture” issue. The selling of underage child abuse images is not merely “immoral and wrong,” (as if that isnt enough), it is a violation of an international treaty that Japan is a party to, and a violation of the recent Japan national law just passed in June 2014.

Japan signed the 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. That means that Japanese companies are breaking international law. The children in the products are clearly not consenting adults; they are in what are ranked 4 to 6 in the “COPINE” scale of erotic poses. Clothed or not, such pictures of underage children are clearly an example of child abuse images. There is no “it’s OK to take pictures of 10 to 13 year olds in their underwear in Japan” reasoning that is acceptable in a court of law.

Amazon removed SOME but not all of this illegal merchandise. Rakuten removed them from the English version of their web site, but not from the Japanese version.

“Faux anger,” as one cultural relativist accused?

Hardly. This is not a laughing matter, and it is not a cultural issue. It is an ethical, moral, and legal issue. Amazon, Rakuten, and other online stores have a legal obligation to conduct the authorities, who have the legal obligation to investigate.

What’s more disturbing than the “it’s a different culture” illogical fallacy responses is one response: “link where I can buy plz.”

Japan has a strong image of being haven for odd behavior, filled with anime and cosplay otaku (geeks). Adding the image of “it’s OK to treat children like objects, it’s Japan” is not in Japan’s best interests, particularly given the number of child abuse, kidnapping, and murder cases in the past few years.

The current Japanese law still allows and encourages men to treat girls and women as sex objects, to be used and abused as they see fit, by virtue of permitting the depiction of sexual abuse of underage girls in cartoons. Companies based in Japan still sell and promote videos and photo books of actual (not cartoon) children. With or without “parental permission,” this is still child abuse.

Or is Abe no longer aching to earn that permanent UN Security Council seat? After all, the Japanese authorities seem entirely uninterested in obeying the UN treaties its politicians signed.

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About MThomas

I've been teaching English as a foreign language in Japan for 16 years. A few years ago, I became the first male faculty member in a Japanese technical college to take child care leave. My first blog on Wordpress detailed that experience. My second blog is about my fiction and non-fiction writing, both published and works in progress.
This entry was posted in age of consent, child abuse, child safety, Japan, Japanese law, Japanese politics, Japanese society and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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