Statement by Ms. Mitsuko Shino,
Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Division,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
For Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura,
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
At the High-Level Governmental Dialogue
Theme 1: "Forms of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Its New Scenarios"
The Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents
November 26, 2008, Rio de Janeiro
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here together with the ministers and representatives of governments from all over the world and who are deeply concerned with the issue of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.
Needless to say, sexual exploitation of children is a grave violation of human rights of children. Among all kinds of human rights violations, this violation is absolutely intolerable and the entire international community should be kept on high alert on this matter, since children are too vulnerable to protect their own. As the host country of the Second World Congress, Japan continues to be very much concerned about this issue and undertakes the challenge of eradicating them. For the follow-up to the "Yokohama Commitment 2001," I would like to speak on the outbreaking forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children and scenarios to combat based on Japan's efforts since 2001.
Japan has been promoting the respect for human dignity, including human rights of the child. At the same time, we are facing new challenges which occur from the recent development of IT technology and globalization. I believe that sharing our experiences in this dialogue is truly meaningful in preventing possible violations in other countries.
Due to the advancement of IT technology and spread of the Internet and mobile phones, commercial and sexual exploitation of children has taken forms which we could not imagine in 2001 and become more widespread.
For example, about fifty percent of cases of arrests in Japan for child prostitution were induced by the online dating site accessed through personal computers and mobile phones. As a background, I wish to point out that in Japan, high rate of pupils own their own mobile phones, and they are prone to catch harmful contents in the absence of parental supervision. In May this year, "Online Dating Site Regulation Act" was amended to enhance child protection from the sexual offence induced by the online dating site, including by obliging the website operator to delete the postings by adults which lure children as soon as the operator acknowledges such postings.
Child pornography on the Web, which spreads easily around the world and violates children's dignity, is a dangerous weapon causing lifelong injury. Japan has also strengthened measures against illegal and harmful information on the Internet. As a part of such steps, the Internet Hotline Center started its operation on commission by the National Police Agency in June 2006, received reports from Internet users regarding illegal or harmful content on the Internet, and has taken measures such as notifying illegal contents to the Police and requesting deletion of such contents to Internet service providers or administrators of websites.
The active movement of people facilitated by globalization could also lead to problems such as child prostitution and trafficking in children. In order to cope with these issues, international cooperation is essential along with each country's efforts. Every year since 2002, Japan invites representatives of law-enforcement agencies, judicial institutions and NGOs from Southeast Asian countries to enhance and strengthen cooperation for investigation by exchanging views and developing mutual understandings with regard to the current situation of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Southeast Asia as well as the protection of child victims.
In order to protect children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, the Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children was enacted in 1999. The said Act includes criminization of child prostitution and production of child pornography, and it is applicable to crimes committed by Japanese nationals even outside Japan. This Act was revised in 2004 to strengthen penalties for crimes such as child prostitution and the provision of child pornography to the general public, as well as to expand the scope of punishable crimes such as providing child pornography to a small number of specified persons. Japan's law-enforcement agencies have been endeavoring to conduct thorough investigations by actively applying the said Act.
In order to eliminate the child pornography itself, it is important to of eliminate the demand for the child pornography. Based on this recognition, a revised bill was submitted in the Diet in June 2008 to criminalize the possession of child pornography for the purpose of satisfying one's sexual curiosity, and the bill remains under deliberation.
Japan has been implementing various measures as I just mentioned. However, we are facing other challenges to overcome. In comics, animations and computer games, depictions of sexual intercourse with children are frequently found. Although these images of children are virtual creation and do not exist in reality, it surely raises serious problems because they generate social tendency to allow the treatment of children as sexual objects. Currently, major point of argument is how these depictions should be restricted by legislation. Furthermore, it is necessary to take measures in cooperation with IT industry and through the joint initiatives between the public and private sectors in order to protect children from the danger hidden in the Internet.
Many prominent experts of the issue and various actors worldwide in civil society are participating in this congress as in the Yokohama congress. I sincerely hope that, through close dialogues with participants here, this Congress will provide a fruitful opportunity which enables us to take a great step forward to solve the problem of sexual exploitation of children in the whole international community.
Thank you very much for your attention.
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