Earlier today, an article was published by Vice, a news publication that had built a name for itself using cutting-edge, investigative journalism, documentary-style on-the-boots reporting, and well-written articles that challenged the status quo and compelled their readers to think outside of their comfort zone.
But this article is not that. This article is an egregious and repugnant departure from that, and it’s as manipulative and biased as the rhetoric it’s trying to promote, all the while including patently false information about the subject matter at hand.
I’ll paste a link here, and maybe we can get some productive dialog going on.
Below is an email I wrote to the editor-in-chief for Vice World regarding the matter.
The article starts off with backstory and testimony by a “Takashi Kato”, a man convicted of over 11 contact child sex abuse offenses over the course of 24 years, followed by a brief overview of exactly what lolicon/shotacon is, as well as the controversies existing behind their content, their legality and how Mr. Kato would interact with them.
It goes on to quote Mr. Kato directly, where he describes the cognitive distortions he had and that the “law was the one that was wrong”. followed by pointing out that Japan was the “last of 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (a coalition of nation states within the United Nations)” and had not banned the mere possession of CP/CSAM until 2014.
While it is true that Japan did not outlaw simple possession of CP/CSAM until 2014, it shouldn’t go unsaid that receipt, production, importation, sale, and distribution of said materials have been criminal throughout various prefectures of Japan since the late 1980s, with existing prohibitions on such content being expanded upon and enacted at the national level in 1999, with very little dispute or resistance. in 2014, they extended this ban to encompass ‘mere possession’ as well, not necessarily out of pressure from the world (though that was there), but because not criminalizing the mere possession of such materials was observed to have a meaningful effect on the government’s ability to properly enforce the law, even though ‘receipt’ was still illegal.
The author includes these points so close to one another so she can emphasize what she perceives to be a “socialization effect” brought on by the legality and availability of these materials, a heinous and grotesque attempt to overstate the social problems that Japanese society has had with regard to their decision not to ban mere possession of such materials, all the while feeding into this false hope that, should these fictional works be banned, that it would have an effect on the way Japanese people view children.
Discussion goes on from here to discuss the legal controversies as they relate to the lack of scientific evidence to support the contention that such materials have a relationship with harmful/abusive acts, which would justify legal prohibitions against such imagery.
The article then asserts that “anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise” (likely referring to the testimony of Kato) and then using this a springboard to focus on those critical of lolicon/shotacon and would want to see it banned, while closing with “Scientific evidence is also impossible to obtain, they say, as any experiments testing the comics’ effect could further harm children.”
This is a rhetorical tactic often employed by pundits or political idealists trying to validate or promote their own, or someone elses worldview by presenting some sort of meaningful link with a real-world issue punctuated by a preclusatory dilemma which is skewed to one side. It is also simply wrong.
The author is making an overstatement of the importance of Kato’s position, backstory, and testimony on the matter, and more, without due consideration of his psychology in relation to his consumption of these images and how they relate to society as a whole.
Individuals like Kato, as unfortunate as it is to say, will offend without regard to the availability of these outlets. Studies have consistently failed to illustrate a link between the etiology of sexual offending behavior and the consumption of pornographic imagery or fantasy engagement.
Very little academic research delving exclusively into whether a connection between lolicon/shotacon, or other forms of distinctly fictitious images, have been conducted becuase, as one might easily point out, individuals like Kato are an anomaly, and make an insignificant minority of child sex abuse cases, and of those who do, the veracity of their accounts varies, with many offenders trying to off-load the burden on “the culture” surrounding these modes of expression to earn a lesser sentence.
These facts surrounding this subject matter have been consistent among researchers and clinicians throughout the years, with those specializing in researching the effects that actual CP/CSAM have on contact offending behavior.
This research has ultimately lead to the recognition of an ‘offender typology’, which is broken down into contact offenders (COs), CP/CSAM offenders (CPOs), mixed offenders (MOs), accompanied by their own sets of risk assessment profiles. CPOs are considerably less likely to engage in offending behavior and be more pedophilic, while COs tend to fluctuate on whether they are pedophilic, and MOs tend to exhibit both high levels of sexual interest and moderate to high degrees of CP/CSAM engagement. MOs are observed to be the minority, and how their consumption habits are observed tend to be more sporadic. How such practices or behaviors affect the risk of an MO to perpetrate a contact offense are contested, but one thing that remains largely uncontested is that they do not stimulate such aggression.
Later on in the article, the author even admits that Kato’s pedophilic inclinations began long before he ever picked up a manga book.
(quoted from the article:“Kato, who was once a massive consumer of this manga, said his sexual attraction to children began before he picked up a comic.”)
It is even implied (if not outright stated) at the beginning of the article that Kato had experience consuming CP/CSAM (images involving real children).
"At adult book shops, he’d visit the section selling comics that show children having sex. Once home, he’d masturbate to these images. The comics were “completely different” from pictures and videos of real children engaged in sex, according to Kato.
Overlooking this little detail, without going into further explanation with regard to whether they still regularly consumed CP/CSAM, but off-loading much of the focus onto manga seems disingenuous.
Arguing that such comics had a catalytic effect on his contact offending behavior, or that had public sentiment towards such content been different, he would not have offended as much as he did (if at all), is essentially the conclusion she is hoping readers will reach.
This is furthered by her inclusion of testimony from a Kazuna Kanajiri, a representative of “People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence”.
According to the article, Kazuna makes the baseless and unsupported claim that the Japanese government is “letting child abuse be tolerated” by allowing lolicon/shotacon manga to remain legal.
This is patently false, as Japanese society draws a careful distinction between fictional characters and actual children, between the concept, as contained within the realm of fantasy, and a hypothetical, practical, or real example, as evidenced by the research of anthropologist Patrick Galbraith.
Collectively, the view on things in Japan is that the things shown or written about in works of fiction would not be appropriate in real life, on the simple basis that they are not real. They are not tangible, not conceptual of anything outside of the means of artistic expression. Even in cases where sincerity can be expressed or observed with how they interact with such materials, a line always remains drawn.
Furthering this view, the author references testimony from one Akiyoshi Saito, a psychiatric social worker who has treated roughly 150 “child sex offenders”, who, according to the article, are all heavily invested in such lolicon/shotacon manga, an observation to which Saito is described as being worrisome, or troubling, who asserts that “By consuming those types of media and masturbating to them, the barrier is lowered to making children sexual targets”.
Again, this is not true. As explained by Michael Seto’s “Motivation Facilitation model”, sexual preoccupation alone is not a significant predictor for contact sexual offending, and studies have still failed to show a consistent, plausible link between the act of sexual fantasy engagement and contact sexual offending against children.
Nowhere in the article does it mention how such content is consumed, or how it affects the onset of risk of re-offending within Saito’s patients, or even what types of offenses they were convicted of. I feel that, without explaining those details, readers who are not properly informed on the matter have no reason to suspect that they are being mislead into taking a side in a debate that is really far more complex and nuanced than Ms. Montomery is presenting it to be.
And finally, the largest issue which is a blatant and prove-able falsehood, is this claim:
"But the abusers aren’t the only ones at fault. Japanese society is also a culprit, he said, because no one is born sexually attracted to kids. "
The etiology of pedophilia (defined as a sexual interest in children) and pedophilic disorder (defined by the DSM-5-TR/ICD-11), as well as numerous other papers studying the etiology of pedophilia unanimously conclude that pedophilia IS, in fact, something people are born with.
It cannot be cured. It cannot be acquired. It is not something that is ‘discovered’. Granted, it is non-exclusive and can be non-primary, but that doesn’t make it something you inherit or acquire. It is difficult to gauge whether this was a quote from Mr. Saito, or something that Ms. Montomgery included herself, but it is still false.
In sum, I urge you to please look into this article and consider my grievances. There is no evidence that these images will cause the social harm that they are claiming, and even when referencing Kaito’s testimony, there are still questions that need to be answered, and aside from his personal history with the comics and his insistance that the comics should be banned, there is very little to substantiate the claim that they do.