From the same news publication that has ran a sympathetic piece putting forth the idea that an attraction to actual minors is nothing more than an understandable sexual orientation, Vice News has taken to calling for the censorship of Japanese manga featuring loli-style art on the grounds that said works are “pedophilic” and contributing to real-world abuses.
Vice News delivered their extra-hot take in a recently published video report bearing the accusatory title, Inside the Pedophilic Manga Industry of Japan.
First airing on VICE TV on September 29th before being uploaded to the site’s YouTube channel on November 21st, the roughly seventeen-minute hit piece centered primarily on the outlet’s outrage that while Japan’s 2014 banning of child pornography addressed real-world images of sexual abuse, it did nothing in regards to such illustrated depictions of fictional characters.
Hosted by Vice News correspondent Hanako Montgomery, the piece saw Montgomery discuss the topic with a variety of individuals hand-picked by the outlet to be presented as definitive representatives of each respective side of the debate.
Montgomery opens the video by speaking with a manga artist identified only by the name Shinji, who explains to her that lolicon works – which the outlet, who has run numerous stories under a ‘virtuous pedophiles‘ tag, attempted to translate as “animated child pornography” – were “fiction that has no victims.”
“People have the right to enjoy themselves in their private worlds,” says the artist.
“I’m sure there are people who get sexually aroused by these drawings,” he adds, “[But] you just can’t force someone to stop just because you’re disgusted. And you can’t create personal laws just because of personal objections.”
ushing back against Shinji’s argument, Montgomery asserts, “On the other hand, in Japan, the number of cases sexual violence against children has been increasing every year. If you can prove that there’s a link.”
To this hypothetical, the artist admits, “Well if you can prove that, then I suppose it would be banned.”
“But why do we have to wait until there’s proof?”questions Montgomery in turn. “Meaning that if proof has been found, that means a child became a victim.”
However, unswayed by this appeal to emotion, Shinji counters, “On the other hand is it wrong to wait for proof?”
The video then moves to bolster their fear-mongering by attempting to claim that “under US Law anyone found owning a magazine with animated child porn can get you up to 15 years in prison and labeled a sex offender for life, but not [in Japan].”
However, as per US Code 1466A, one can only be criminally charged for possessing or producing loli art if it is determined to be legally obscene under the twin standards that any media in question both “depicts an image that is, or appears to be a minor engaged in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse” and “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
Next, Montgomery speaks with Kazuna Kanajiri, the Chief Director of PAPS (People Against Pornography and Sexual violence), an organization which provides support to victims of sexual assault, including children who were pressured into child pornography.
Questioned by Montgomery as to whether there was any link between loli manga and real-world sexual crimes against minors, Kanajiri alleges, “It’s impossible to measure how it’s affecting children abuse, but I believe it has a big impact.”
“It condones child grooming and abuse,” says the PAPS director. “In fact if young women and children are exposed to this manga, it normalizes the idea of sex with adults. We have made a society in which children are forced to learn from experience early on that the have sexual value.”
Though the outlet ostensibly deferred to Kanajiri in an effort to bolster their own call for censorship, Vice News would reluctantly confirm that there were no studies currently available to correlate loli manga to actual assault, stopping just short of acknowledging the various pieces of scientific research which provide strong evidence to the contrary.
Instead, they chose to deflect by reaching to draw a correlation between loli manga and the apparent ongoing child abuse crisis, as reported by the country’s National Police Agency, facing the Land of the Rising Sun.
To this end, the outlet acknowledged that while Japan isn’t the only democratic country where kids are sexualized, it is one of the slowest to reform their child sexual abuse laws.
Unsurprisingly, Vice News did not provide any specific countries for comparison, nor did they distinguish whether the children being sexualized were real-world victims or fictional characters.
In further support of their accusations, Vice News attempted to capture footage of the loli manga section of Akihabara book store Melon Books.
Though their requests to film inside the store were denied multiple times due to the piece’s potential to direct bad publicity towards the business, the team eventually succeeded in their goals thanks to their use of a hidden camera.
However, the results of their stealth filming would be blurred in the final footage, as according to Montgomery, “what’s on the shelves is too sexually graphic and this whole aisle here is just sexual abuse, child pornography.”
“It’s like every other page we can’t film because there’s just so much sex in it,” she proclaims, near everything except for her body blurred in the accompanying footage.
Next, in a truly underhanded journalistic move, Montgomery sought to bolster the connection between loli manga consumption and real-world abuse by speaking to Takashi Kato, a convicted pedophile who credits his assaulting of 11 children, some as young as three-years-old, to his consumption of loli manga.
During their interview, Kato – who has confessed to abusing girls in public, teaching boys to masturbate and even soliciting child prostitutes for sex abroad – asserted that while his sexual attraction to young children began in his middle school years, his affinity for loli manga during his college years was what finally nudged him to embrace his suppressed pedophilic fantasies.
“I was in middle school,” Kato recalls. “I’d look at children and get very aroused. When I was in college I found these porn magazines. There was a manga that depicted sexual abuse with young children. That very quickly became my whole sexual world.”
“I started reading this manga often, and more and more my desire to sexually assault children increased,” he adds. “After seeing these depictions, those images were seared into my brain. I’d think of those images when I carried out those assaults.”
Yet, despite Vice News’ disingenuous attempt to present Kato’s story as a cautionary tale for the general population rather than the result of his disgusting individual choices, the outlet’s entire argument was immediately undercut by Ota Ward Assembly member Minoru Ogino.
Sitting down with Montgomery to discuss her alleged correlations between loli manga and child abuse, as well as the outlet’s call for the genre to be banned, Ogino explained, “The comics aren’t influencing people. First, these crimes are already occurring, whether or not the manga exists.”
“There’s no evidence that this material leads criminals to their acts,” he continued. “When the state thinks about laws or regulation, there has to be a scientific basis.”
Unsatisfied with his refusal to bend to her emotional arguments, Montgomery then asks Ogino, “Many countries have introduced regulations for moral reasons. Why is Japan the exception here?”
Standing firm, the Ota Ward Assembly Member explains, “I think those rules are influenced by each country’s culture, set of values and customs.”
“There are countries that have outlawed the depiction of same sex couples,” he notes. “It’s based on the will of the people. That’s democracy.”
Further seeking to put Ogino’s beliefs to the test, Montgomery then hands the politician an unidentified collected volume of loli manga and asks him to “explain what’s depicted in this comic book”, which results in the following exchange:
Ogino: There’s a little girl and I guess this must be an old man. He’s licking her underwear. Is this really an old man? He’s drawn like a monster.
Montgomery: What are you thoughts after reading that?
Ogino: It’s a comic book for adults that depicts a child that’s it.
Montgomery: Do you think this type of work should be protected?
Ogino: Yes I do. I don’t see anything out of the ordinary. I think it should be.
Montgomery: So no issues?
Though the Cuties–celebrating outlet conceded that it was unlikely Japan would take any steps to ban the controversial manga sub-genre, Vice News ultimately drew their video to a close with the warning from Tokyo Psychiatric Social Worker Akiyoshi Saito that of his 150 pedophilic clients, several – including the aforementioned Kato – described their introduction to loli content as the unlocking of their own pedophilic “Pandora’s Box”.
“I don’t think people are born thinking they’ll become pedophiles they’re likely conditioned to be pedophiles through Japanese society. ” Saito attested. “Not everyone will act on ‘this conditioning’, but if ‘this material’ can motivate a person to become a perpetrator, then a serious debate must be had about their existence.”
Interestingly, despite supposedly being produced after months of cautious and arduous work, it seems Vice News is not open to discussion of their report.
As of writing, not only has the video had its comments section turned off, but it has also been voluntarily rendered unavailable for Japanese audiences.