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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 15:18 GMT
Japan clamps down on child porn
Child prostitutes
Child prostitution is a big problem in Thailand
A Japanese law banning child pornography has been used for the first time to arrest seven people for sex offences committed abroad.


We want to act tough on child pornography crimes

Police spokesman Fujiyasu Otaka
The suspects include the boss of a Tokyo adult movie company who is accused of making videos of Thai minors being sexually abused.

Campaigners against child prostitution in Asia have criticised Japan for its lax attitude to child pornography and paedophile activity by Japanese nationals abroad.

According to Interpol, 80% of child pornography literature is made in Japan.

Criticism

Police spokesman Fujiyasu Otaka said it was the first time they had applied the anti-child porn law to an offence committed overseas.

chiang mai
The girls were recruited in Chiang Mai
"We do not care whether a crime was committed here or abroad. We are going to pursue paedophiles aggressively," he told AFP news agency.

"We want to act tough on child pornography crimes because of mounting international criticism against Japan."

The pornography law, passed last November, bans the production, sale or possession of pornography involving minors.

Hotel

The seven suspects include video company boss Akihisa Kuga, 51, two employees, a cameraman and make-up artist.

Police said Mr Kuga held "auditions'' at smart hotels in the Thai city of Chiang Mai nearly every month to select girls.

The videos were reportedly sold in Japan for 10,000 yen ($93).

Before his arrest, Mr Kuga told Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper that girls would "flock to the auditions''.

He said they only filmed girls aged 18 and over, but admitted they may have accidentally used minors as it was sometimes difficult to confirm their age.

Shoot

Mr Kuga said the girls were paid up to $930 for a shoot and none had sex in the videos.

"In developing countries such as Thailand, poor families are often pushed into selling their daughters for money," he added.

"We've had the parents of the girls thanking us because they could send their children to school or could afford to build a house."

Japanese media said Mr Kuga had been selling pornography since 1989, with sales reaching $7.4m last year.

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See also:

20 Oct 00 | Europe
Sex 'tourist' gets seven years
15 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asia's child sex victims ignored
22 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asia's child sex tourism rising
28 May 99 | Asia-Pacific
Sex tourist jailed in Australia
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