Arama They Didn't

Tokyo Metropolitan Police interviewed staff members at publisher Kodansha regarding whether an erotic photograph of a member of pop group AKB48 constitutes ‘child pornography,’ reports the Sankei Shimbun (Jan. 18).

On January 17, officers from the juvenile affairs division questioned the publisher over an image featuring a topless Tomomi Kasai being fondled from behind by a young foreign boy — a potential violation of child prostitution and pornography laws.

According to investigators, it must be determined whether the photo is real. “The act of (a child) touching a woman’s nipples (as in that photo) is prohibited by law,” investigators are quoted by the Sankei.

The photo was originally scheduled to be published in an issue of the Kodansha comic book Shukan Young Magazine set to hit newsstands on January 12. Instead, the release was postponed and later cancelled. In explaining its decision, Young Magazine wrote in a message on site on January 11, “The photo contains an inappropriate expression.”

Investigators are reportedly taking into consideration the fact that the publication of the photo was scrapped, but are also looking at building a case against Kodansha. “In comparison to Japan, penalties in Europe for using a young boy in child pornography are more severe,” the Sankei quotes the investigative team. “We are taking into account that this could be a problem at an international level.”

The article notes that in Japan a guilty verdict for violating child pornography laws carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of five million yen.

The photo in question comprises the original cover shot for Kasai’s debut photo collection called “Tomo no Koto, Suki?” (Do You Like Tomo?), which is scheduled to be released (also by Kodansha) on February 4. A promotion for the book was supposed to appear in Young Magazine. The photo has also been pulled from inclusion in the book.

The photograph appeared in various sports newspapers on January 10. That evening, the editorial staff of Young Magazine decided to postpone the release of its upcoming issue.

“In the future, we will endeavor to do our best to respect the freedom of speech of an author, writer, cartoonist, or photographer,” Kodansha said in an apology posted on its site on January 17. “We are committed to working with more compliance measures in place as we continue to engage in our publishing activities.”

Regarding the inquiry by investigators, a spokesperson from Kodansha refused to comment due to a lack of confirmed information.


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