TOKYO (AFP) ― Japan on Wednesday finally fell into line with other developed countries and made the possession of child pornography illegal.
The upper house of parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of a bill revising laws under which only the production and distribution of child pornography were banned.
The legislation cleared the lower house earlier this month.
Campaigners had long urged Japan to toughen its stance on child pornography.
The new legislation bans possession of photographs and videos depicting real children aged below 18; it does not include drawings.
The law says anyone who “possesses child pornography for the purpose of satisfying his/her sexual interest” faces being punished with imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to $9,800.
In order to encourage disposal of material, the penalties will be delayed for one year after the revised law comes, which is expected possibly in July.
The law excludes “manga” comics, “anime” video and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression.
Japan was the only member of the G7 group of industrialised nations where the possession of child porn remained legal. It is banned and subject to penalties in more than 70 countries.