Tokyo, April 4 (Jiji Press)–The lowering of the legal age of adulthood in Japan on Friday has sparked concerns that it may be more difficult to support women under 20 who are coerced into appearing in pornographic videos.
Last year, nonprofit group Paps received 81 consultations about forced appearances in porn, with 20 of them from people below 20, the former adult age in the country.
Lawyer Kazuko Ito, secretary general of nongovernmental organization Human Rights Now, warned that porn talent agencies may be scouting people in junior high and high schools to make them debut as porn actors as soon as they turn 18.
Victims are often solicited by talent agencies to become television personalities or models, and forced to sign delegation contracts, according to the international human rights group. In many cases, victims realize that they will be in a porn video only after being sent to a shooting location, and are told that they will have to pay a penalty if they refuse the work.
They could be forced to give up their portrait rights under contracts with video production firms. Videos, if released on the internet, could stay online virtually forever.
Previously, sales of videos featuring 18- and 19-year-olds could be halted by the exercise of the right to annul contracts signed by minors without the consent of guardians.
But the revised Civil Code, which sets the new adult age at 18, prevents such victims from cancelling their contracts through this route.
“We have blocked the sale of many porn videos featuring minors by using the cancellation right,” Ito said. “Younger people are more likely to be tricked, and often fall victim without really understanding what porn is.”
The Japanese government’s position is that it is possible to annul contracts that are formed using illegitimate methods, on the basis that victims were defrauded or threatened.
However, Ito pointed out that it is “difficult to prove fraud or threats by a porn video maker that is in the position of a bona fide third party.”
In response to concerns that the lower adult age could place more young women in disadvantageous positions, the government designated April as a month for preventing sexual violence against youths and launched publicity and awareness efforts.
“There are still many (forced porn victims) who suffer damage that cannot be undone,” Ito said. “Protecting yourself is of utmost importance.”