There is a lot to like about Japan; the food, the countryside, the history, the safety. Similarly there is a lot to dislike; the conservative streak that makes change very hard, the homogenous nature of society that leads to cultural ignorance of anything outside of Japan combined with a national pride that is often uninformed, the trains during rush hours, working conditions. But there is one thing that creeps me out particularly, that makes my skin crawl whenever I encounter it, which is often: the sexual objectification, sometimes subtly but usually not, of young girls. Aside from the culture of the celebrity Japan also seems to adore the nymphet.
Though the term “lolicon”, which with typical Japanese concision is derived from “Lolita Complex”, is used with derision the media world in Japan has no gripes with portraying young girls gyrating for the pleasure of an adult audience, with Humbert Humbert’s most desired nymphet age group being the main source for such talent. Though all-girl bands like Morning Musume, with ages ranging from 10 to 20, could optimistically be said to be aimed at kids, other bands, like the more recent AKB 48 are squarely aimed at the older male, in the latter case at Akihabara geeks, hence the name. The band’s producer organizes the website where creepy men in their mid to late twenties can adore their chosen favourite by reading up on their biography and watching little web-movies. And though actual sexuality isn’t mentioned or intoned, one has to wonder what an adult male is doing idolizing 12 year old girls.

The actual “Lolita” and “Lolita Goth” fashions are more to do with dressing up than age but it is undeniable that the ideal image of the woman in Japan revolves around youth and innocence. Grown women wear childish clothes, enjoy Disney fetishes, speak in young girl’s voices. Titillation photography books often has women of legal age dress up in school uniforms, as does, I wouldn’t presume the assumption of knowing for a fact, hard-core pornography. Underage girls pose seductively in bikinis and other revealing outfits but only remove that last slither of gauze protecting their innocence until they reach legal age.
Even the real thing is dubious, with actual schoolgirls being forced to wear uniforms with skirts that are no more than glorified belts, ending as they do just below the pelvis and forcing them to cover their behinds with their hands or schoolbags whenever they need to climb a staircase. Whoever designed those uniforms had issues.

Games enthusiasts may be aware of the syndrome with female characters in games often being terribly young despite sporting a bosom that would take far in excess of 12 years to cultivate. Again, absolving myself from any admission to factual investigation, hentai games too can feature more explicit sexual content with characters which are clearly under-age. Of course the phenomenon of skimpy outfits on busty females in games isn’t unique to Japan, but at least in the West they don’t make a big deal out of the girl being 15 years old, or even younger.

More sensationalist rags and tabloids also report on occasion the pocket money some schoolgirls spend on Prada handbags, with a stipend handsomely increased by profits from selling suggestive mobile phone photographs to perverts. Indeed the scandal of schoolgirl prostitution occasionally crops up in such magazines too, though I always feel there is a certain exaggeration and scaremongering involved in such doom-and-gloom portrayals. Let’s face it, the Japanese schoolgirl has a hard enough time as it is with perverts “accidentally” brushing their hands against portions of skin in busy trains, if not a flat and robust laying on of hands. This “chikan” syndrome is of course illegal but so ineffectual has Japanese law been in combating the problem that Japan Railway has had to resort to providing female-only carriages during rush-hour.

That isn’t to say Japan is a lawless society of pedophiles, it clearly is not. There are laws protecting underage children from exploitation and sexual deviance, child pornography is of course outlawed but lolicon manga, for example isn’t. Nor is the subtle sexual objectification in mainstream media, and most egregiously, nor are those schoolgirl skirts. The widespread availability of pornography in Japan has been said to have helped the sexual crime rate drop dramatically since the 70s and on the whole Japan has fewer such crimes than any other developed country in the world. However, there is an obvious pressure on women to be cute, helpless and act young with, if at all possible, high-pitched voices. And possibly because I feel no uncertain amount of disgust at the whole affair I am probably painting a bleaker picture of Japan’s nymphet-philia than is probably true, but it is undeniable that the media and the public at large spend a lot of time adoring young girls, and it’s not always innocent.


  1. I like your blog very much
    keep it up!

  2. One thing I think is important to remember is the vast majority of child sexual abuse goes unreported.

    Society makes a big deal about creepy old men hanging out near playgrounds in vans, but most most children are victimized by family members or friends of the family. The victim is made to feel a tremendous amount of shame, and usually go their entire lives without reporting the abuse.

    Having only experienced Japan only by proxy from videogames and such I don't know how they deal with this problem, but I think there have been big strides in the US regarding awareness of child sexual abuse, and still most incidents go unreported. Given Japan's conservative bent and the pressure for people not to stand out or make a fuss it's possible Japan could have a huge out of control child sexual abuse problem and not be aware of it because it largely goes unreported.

    It's just a thought, though. Maybe the easy availability of lolicon manga and whatnot makes it easier for people to get out their kinks in healthier ways. I don't pretend to know.

  3. It seems to me that the Nipponjin have much darker and more vivid fantasy lives, perhaps because their everyday existences tend to be so restricted. So yes, the eromanga stuff tends to be everywhere -- you even see people reading it on the Yamanote line for Chrissakes -- but I get the sense that it's OK because so few of them could ever imagine doing it in real life. They seem to feel the same way about our ultraviolent entertainment -- you're not really going to go down the street with a sword and kill everyone, will you? The Japanese notion of "sex is fun; violence is dirty" seems much more the product of a civilized society than the opposite American attitude. Hey, have you reconsidered your membership yet? You belong with us. You know how to get in touch with me...

  4. Former JET here, which means I was teaching in a public Japanese high school. Those school uniform skirts? They aren't designed short. They're regular length, but for some reason the girls all want to hitch them up into handkerchief sized miniskirts.

    I dunno if you know much about school in Japan, but, unlike my native lands of America, schools here have pretty much 24 hour jurisdiction, which means the school can tell students how to wear their uniforms, not only while they're at school, but also on the way to school, on the way back home, and pretty much any other time. We had a really strict school (nicknamed "自衛隊", only because there was an even stricter school nicknamed "軍隊"), and we STILL had problems getting girls to wear their skirts long; they had a tendency to wear them long, but then roll them up at the belt to shorten them once they got out of teachers' sight off-campus. So the blame doesn't really lie in the uniform designers or the schools. It would either be on the wearers, or society as a whole.

  5. I'm confused. If they hike up their skirts themselves why go through all the trouble of walking with a bag or hand over your arse? But you're right. Society's to blame, damn that society!

  6. This post is useless without pics.

  7. A while back, in my previous company, I used to work with a genuine Lolicon. He was a very friendly and talkative guy and even though I couldn't really have a very long chat with him (my Japanese wasn't that good back then and he didn't speak any English) I thought he was very nice. But when I discovered about him being a Lolicon... well I couldn't help thinking what was going on in his head. I mean, there you had a 28 year old man with portraits, calendars, filers, etc of 12 year old girls on his desk at work like if they were family pictures. He also used to order some stuff from Amazon (Lolicon merchandise) and whenever he got them he used to show us his new acquisitions.
    One of those days, just after getting one of "those" DVDs, I asked him if it was a Morning Musume DVD and his answer was: "Oh no, it's Berryz". Then I asked him: why? got tired of Morning Musume? And he replied: "yeah, they are too old already".
    I couldn't help thinking what age was "too old" for him so I asked him and he answered that he wasn't interested in girls over 13 or 14 years old.


  8. The movie Hard Candy comes to mind when reading the post and comments... Over 13-14 too old? Scary thought :/

  9. What many people don't realize is that what is child abuse in America can sometimes not be child abuse in Japan. The age of consent for sexual intercourse in Japan is 13. The nation does strive for the younger girls, and if it is consented they have every right to do so. It is their culture. What is right for some of us is not right for others and vice versa.

  10. I'm from the United States where the death penalty is commonly accepted - and I'm not and never will be a supporter. Just because a country or culture supports something doesn't necessarily make it right. Not a great analogy, I know but....

    Maybe, just maybe - if the ages of those involved were close - it might be acceptable.

    However, if we are talking about someone who is considerably older (like 28) and more experienced who is or wants to be involved with someone who is 13 or less - and the 13 year old has been encouraged to act and think like a child - well, I don't really agree with that or accept it. I think that's pedophilia.

    To me the sexualization of young children at an early age tends to be associated with pedophilia, at the very least. If someone finds the age of 13 to be too old - well, what's too young for them? 8 - 10 years olds? And I'm talking about many cultures, not just Japan.

  11. Yeah when I first discovered this lolicon stuff I was turned off from anime and manga for a while. Now I'm slowly getting back to it, but anything that resembles lolicon really irritates me. And I have to do much research before picking up material.


  12. it seems that the sexualization of children is all over the place--not just in Japan, but in the States as well. Although here we don't have panty vending machines, we DO have an unhealthy obsession with youth, beauty, celebrity and sex, as reflected in the media. My feeling is that Japan needs some strong women as role models for girls--women who are authentic, unique and assertive, instead of manufactured, submissive cute girls.

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