• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 2:41pm
NewsAsia
JAPAN

Japan plans to crack down on 'revenge porn' with new legislation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 5:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 5:52pm
 

The Japanese government is planning to introduce new legislation to clamp down on “revenge porn,” a burgeoning problem that some commentators in Japan are labelling as a “new social crisis.”

The number of cases has risen rapidly in recent years, up from 8,121 incidents that police were required to handle in 2008 to 27,334 reports in 2012. When the figures for last year are released later this year, authorities anticipate that the total will have surpassed 30,000.

While the posting of indecent still images or videos of former partners - the vast majority of whom are women - is calculated to humiliate the victim, there are cases that have led to far more serious incidents.

In October, a schoolgirl aged 18 was allegedly stabbed to death by a former boyfriend after she broke off their relationship.

Charles Ikenaga was hiding in a closet in the home of Saaya Suzuki in the west Tokyo suburb of Mitaka before the attack.

Suzuki had blocked Ikenaga’s phone calls and mail messages after he began to make threats against her, including a threat to post explicit photos of her on the internet.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been stung into action by the surge in cases, with Junko Mihara, who heads the party’s women’s section, saying that the law needs to be changed so that victims have the right to demand that images or videos be swiftly removed from the internet.

“Since society is in complete agreement that acts of ‘revenge porn’ constitute a crime, we can finally begin to get moving on countermeasures,” Mihara told the Weekly Playboy news magazine.

“As female victims of such crimes fear doing anything that would anger the man they are dating, they will often give into demands that they pose for photos or allow themselves to be shot by a hidden camera,” Mihara said. “In the worst cases, they will be forcibly coerced into posing.”

The first law that needs to be altered is regulation that means it can take a week for a photo to be ordered to be removed.

The LDP announced late last year that it is examining legal changes, which might take the form of an entirely new law to deal with the problem or revisions and additions to existing laws.

“If the law as it now stands had worked properly, the number of violations would not be increasing,” said Mihara. “Nor would there be so many female victims who feel they have no means of fighting it.

“People have committed suicide over these crimes,” she added. “I think bolstering the law and increasing the severity of punishments would work to suppress them.”

But others believe there needs to be more of an element of education and better ethics among young people.

“I think one of the reasons this is becoming a problem is because technology nowadays makes it so easy to record images and then put them onto the net,” Makoto Watanabe, a lecturer in communications and media at Hokkaido Bunkyo University, told the South China Morning Post.

“That is combined with a lack of ethics in many people now, making this a new social crisis,” he said.

“Revenge porn” is a very easy but very personal and humiliating form of bullying, he said, adding that Japanese society and the media needed to take steps now to instil in young people the appropriate way to behave.

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