TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan has failed to bring child pornography under control, leaving children around the world at risk, UNICEF said on Tuesday as it launched a campaign to stamp out exploitation of minors.
Japan's government is inching towards a ban on the possession of obscene images of children, which would bring it into line with most other industrialized countries.
But the Japan branch of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) urged Tokyo to beef up its laws by banning child pornography in manga comics, animated films and computer games as well as individual possession.
"Japan, a major player in information technology, is left uncontrolled, meaning children both here and around the world are suffering sexual exploitation for the sake of child porn," UNICEF said in a statement.
A previous campaign prompted laws, enacted in 1999 and 2004, that banned child prostitution and the production and sale of obscene images of children under 18, but simple possession of such material remains legal.
"The media report child pornography cases almost daily," the statement continued. "Hundreds of cases have been brought to court, but they are the tip of the iceberg and figures are still rising."
A committee of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party set up to look into a possible ban on the possession of child pornography, as well as penalties, held its first meeting last week.