Proposed Virtual Child Porn Law Trucking Along

Won't someone think of the children? The imaginary children? Don't worry, Japanese politicians are.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government is moving forward on legislation that sets out to ban provocative "visual depictions" of characters who appear to be 18 years-old and younger.

According to website Anime News Network, the proposal, submitted on February 24, would amend the Metropolitan Tokyo youth welfare law on child pornography and limit the manner in which "nonexistent youths" are represented as well as clauses that call for the filtering of images of minors online and via mobile phone.

The "visual depictions" are understood to encompass underage characters in manga, computer games and video games — i.e., virtual characters.

If the legislation does pass, it would be law in Metropolitan Tokyo and not elsewhere in Japan. So that would seem to mean that companies based outside of Tokyo (like Osaka-based visual novel companies Leaf and Key) would be exempt. However, Tokyo legislation sets precedent for the entire country.

The impact of this would not only drastically effect the Japanese game industry, but the anime and manga industry. How does one judge what is provocative and what isn't? One could argue that it is sexually provocative when Shin-chan from Crayon Shin-chan draws an elephant on his wennie. It's not — it's stupid and funny. But, how do you judge what is age appropriate for virtual characters? By whether or not they wear sailor suits? Who sets the moral standards?

As CNNGo's David Marx has pointed out, Japan should worry about actual child pornography in Japan. You know, pornography with real children being taken advantage of and not imagery ones. While the sale of children pornography is prohibited, it is apparently still legal to own pictures of children 12 years-old and up.

And actual pornography aside, the cottage industry of DVDs and photobooks of little girls (some as young as four years old!) wearing swimsuits and thongs, eating bananas and licking ice cream are certainly more pressing issue than virtual characters. This is real people (real children, dammit!) getting taken advantage of.

In recent years, the Japanese government has cracked down on child pornography and "junior idols" — necessary and much needed steps to prevent the exploitation of children. But certainly politicians can tell the difference between what is real and what isn't?

Thanks, Matt!