In June, Japan banned the possession of child pornography after decades of criticism by local and international children's rights activists. However, the ban did not extend to manga or anime films - which still raises troubling questions about the state of child protection, as well as the reasons for the country's lax attitude towards children being viewed as sexual objects.
People in Japan have always had easy access to pornographic materials. This has created a culture where pornography is tolerated and accepted, and its consumption normalised, especially among men, who are the main consumers of porn. This, in turn, has reinforced the dominant male view that women and girls are sex objects and issues connected to its consumption are thus downplayed. And it means that the rights of those who do not want to see women and girls treated as sexual objects are simply ignored or violated.
In such a porn-inured society, it is difficult for the Japanese public to perceive that treating children - mainly girls - as sexual objects is a grave concern. Hence, though more than 90 percent of the public supported outlawing the possession of child pornography, according to a public opinion survey conducted by the government in 2007, people tended to passively tolerate it, rather than pro-actively want to take effective measures against it.
Perhaps this attitude stems from the fact that Japan has been and is still an international centre for the production and distribution of child pornography, according to a 2013 US State department report.
This is despite a law passed in 1999 which banned the production, distribution and sale of child pornographic materials. In 2004, that law was expanded to include material distributed through all forms of media, including the internet.