The sexualization of young characters is common in Japanese porn. Michiko Nagaoka, director of the anti-lolicon organization Juvenile Guide, reports that around half of the pornographic animated works produced in Japan feature schoolgirls; (1) many also involve relationships between an adult and a minor. Most of these works are available for viewing online, though come into ‘possession’ of them in some countries and you’ll be breaking the law. The ease with which this material is accessed, and the relentlessness of some parties’ attempts to get it criminalized worldwide, has led to a great divide in the English-speaking sphere of online anime fans.
For some people, this media is at the very least ‘gross’ and unacceptable; many believe it’s a factor in the normalization of pedophilia and a primary cause of child sexual assault, and that the defence of it under the umbrella of ‘free speech’ is a red flag that someone is a pedophile. For others, including most of the media’s academic researchers, no causal link between it and CSA can be established; many see lolicons as a separate group from pedophiles with distinct goals and interests, much like those who engage in paraphilic infantism (age play). The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has fought against the criminalization of those who possess lolicon manga, and popular figures such as Neil Gaiman have spoken up about the necessity of accepting this ‘unacceptable’ media when it comes to the laws we make.
The United Nations sits on the former side of this divide. They’re adamant, with bountiful evidence to the contrary, that pressuring governments to criminalize lines on paper will help protect the children of tomorrow. The new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child seeks to pressure governments worldwide into punishing ‘virtual child pornography’, where no real or identifiable minor is harmed, as though it were actual child pornography. The UN published a draft of these guidelines earlier this year, devised by ‘persons of high moral character’, and despite comments from Japan, the US and Austria, and organizations such as the CBLDF and the Prostasia foundation, their final draft still has them set on seeing no difference between fictional ageless lolis and real, vulnerable children. Continue reading Japan vs The UN: The Fight For Artistic Freedom