Cultural relativism? Hardly. It’s the LAW

This morning (Oct 16) an opinion article appeared on entitled “The fuel for Japan’s pedophiles.” It highlighted the recent incident with Amazon Japan and “candy doll” merchandise sold through a third-party vendor.

As I thought they might, the cultural relativists and cultural apologists supporting Japan’s lax attitude toward pedophilia complained.

“Just face it, Japan’s got a wholly different culture compared to everyone else,” said one. “They’re not as reserved and as conservative as other nations out there, so stop forcing your ‘it’s immoral and wrong’ opinion down everyone’s throat.”

First of all…Japan *isn’t* conservative and reserved? Uh. Talk to PM Abe and get back to me on that.

Second, this is not an “it’s OK, it’s Japan, it’s a different culture” issue. The selling of underage child abuse images is not merely “immoral and wrong,” (as if that isnt enough), it is a violation of an international treaty that Japan is a party to, and a violation of the recent Japan national law just passed in June 2014.

Japan signed the 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. That means that Japanese companies are breaking international law. The children in the products are clearly not consenting adults; they are in what are ranked 4 to 6 in the “COPINE” scale of erotic poses. Clothed or not, such pictures of underage children are clearly an example of child abuse images. There is no “it’s OK to take pictures of 10 to 13 year olds in their underwear in Japan” reasoning that is acceptable in a court of law.

Amazon removed SOME but not all of this illegal merchandise. Rakuten removed them from the English version of their web site, but not from the Japanese version.

“Faux anger,” as one cultural relativist accused?

Hardly. This is not a laughing matter, and it is not a cultural issue. It is an ethical, moral, and legal issue. Amazon, Rakuten, and other online stores have a legal obligation to conduct the authorities, who have the legal obligation to investigate.

What’s more disturbing than the “it’s a different culture” illogical fallacy responses is one response: “link where I can buy plz.”

Japan has a strong image of being haven for odd behavior, filled with anime and cosplay otaku (geeks). Adding the image of “it’s OK to treat children like objects, it’s Japan” is not in Japan’s best interests, particularly given the number of child abuse, kidnapping, and murder cases in the past few years.

The current Japanese law still allows and encourages men to treat girls and women as sex objects, to be used and abused as they see fit, by virtue of permitting the depiction of sexual abuse of underage girls in cartoons. Companies based in Japan still sell and promote videos and photo books of actual (not cartoon) children. With or without “parental permission,” this is still child abuse.

Or is Abe no longer aching to earn that permanent UN Security Council seat? After all, the Japanese authorities seem entirely uninterested in obeying the UN treaties its politicians signed.

UPDATED: Amazon Japan removes some, not all. Tip of the iceberg…

Perhaps partly due to customer complaints made as Typhoon Vongfong swept over head, Amazon Japan removed some of the “candy doll collection” merchandise.

Some. Not all.

Evidently, somebody working at Amazon has decided that while videos of elementary school age girls in sexually provocative poses is no good, but junior high age is acceptable.

Why is this?

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An open letter to Amazon Japan: Stop selling child pornography

Dear Amazon Japan:

I have spent literally thousands of dollars on Amazon web sites during the past few years, mostly for my language education research in Japan. I even have a book being sold (Language Learning Motivation in Japan) and have generally been very pleased with your service.

Until now.

It has come to my attention that Amazon Japan is selling child pornography, in the form of “candy doll collection” photo books of scantily-clad young children in provocative clothing.
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Taking Leave: The Book


Well, I finally committed myself to a project I’ve been talking and writing about since April 2011: Turning this blog into a book.

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Sleep, perchance to…


One of the biggest differences since we moved into a house is the sleeping arrangements. When our oldest daughter was a baby, we were living in an apartment with a traditional Japanese straw mat (tatami) room and no bed. So like most families in Japan, all three of us slept on futon in the same room. No crib for the baby; she had her own tiny futon…and as she got bigger, she would roll her way around nearly the entire room at night time, sometimes eventually kicking one or both of us in the head at some point.

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Organic dining with kids

I owe my love of organic gardening to my father, who started growing his own vegetables on the Methodist Church property behind our apartment in the “oil crisis” of the early 1970s. From him, I learned how to compost, properly prepare the soil, plant both seeds and seedlings with appropriate trellises, water and mulch during hot weather, and keep away pests without using chemicals.

“Organic” has taken a bad rap in the US media, thanks to lacksidaisical labeling that allows certain percentages of chemically-based fertilizers and pesticides. My veggies may not look as pretty as the store-bought kind, but they taste sweeter, have more pulp, and have a high yield. More importantly, I know exactly what my kids are eating.


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Paternity leave: It’s a whole new ballgame

Paternity leave just got a big mention in US media this past week, thanks to baseball.

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took three days leave for the birth of his son in Florida. Radio talk show personality Mike Francesca took some pot shots at the concept of paternity leave, for 20 minutes straight, saying that he was “surprised” that men would even need three days off. In any profession.

“What are you gonna do? Are you gonna sit there and look at your wife in the hospital for two days?”

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