KYOTO--For the first time in Japan, police will pursue criminal charges against suspected buyers of child pornography that could lead to prison sentences.
Kyoto prefectural police plan to punish four men in the prefecture under an ordinance that stipulates that buyers of pornography involving children under 13 face a maximum one-year prison term or a fine of up to 500,000 yen ($6,360)
The men are believed to have bought DVDs carrying obscene images of underage girls between March and June from a man in his 40s living in the Kanto region.
Some of the girls on the DVDs, sold through the Kanto man's website, were younger than 13 years old, according to sources.
Police have already obtained an arrest warrant for the suspected seller. But under Japanese laws, there are no punishments in place for simple possession or purchases of such material.
However, some local governments have adopted ordinances to criminally punish buyers of child pornography.
Kyoto Prefecture's ordinance--the only one carrying a possible prison sentence--was adopted by the prefectural assembly last October. It was created by Kyoto Governor Keiji Yamada, who has called for the eradication of child pornography.
Kyoto police have questioned the suspected seller of the DVDs and searched his home on July 19.
Sources said police discovered his website during “cyber patrol” activities and later confirmed transaction records.
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