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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan to prosecute child porn suspect

Japan to prosecute child porn suspect

Japanese authorities have initiated criminal proceedings against a Japanese child

pornography suspect who was released from Cambodian custody under suspicious circumstances

in July 2000.

Japanese Embassy officials in Phnom Penh told the Post on Jan 15 that Japanese police

were seeking to prosecute Kazuyuki Kobata, 30, under the terms of Japan's new extraterritoriality

law on child sex crimes. If convicted Kobata faces a maximum sentence of three years

imprisonment or a $25,000 fine.

"Last week police sent documents [of Kobata's case] to prosecutors," Japanese

Embassy First Secretary Horiuchi Toshihiko said. "According to Japanese law,

the prosecutor will examine the documents and decide whether to press charges."

Kobata was charged on June 20, 2000 with debauchery involving children after police

discovered he had paid children between eight and eleven years of age to pose for

nude photographs.

Although Kobata admitted to having taken the photos, he was secretly released from

Prey Sor prison on July 3 and subsequently fled the country.

Cambodian child protection workers at the time described Kobata's release as a textbook

example of diplomatic interference in the Cambodian judicial process. Japanese embassy

officials strenuously denied any involvement in Kobata's release.

Horiuchi said that Kobata's prosecution resulted from months of cooperation between

Cambodian and Japanese police and was intended to deter Japanese child sex tourists.

"Any law has a [deterrent] effect, and the effect of this new law...will prevent

[Japanese] people from committing child pornography activities abroad," he said.

Toshiko Maya Sonozaki, a spokesperson for the Japan office of End Child Prostitution,

Abuse and Trafficking (ECPAT)applauded the decision to bring Kobata to justice. However,

she said that Japanese law on child sex crimes failed to treat offenders with an

adequate degree of severity.

"The problem is that [Kobata] is not being detained...[and] he will be freed

after being interviewed by the public prosecutor and paying some fine," Sonozaki

told the Post by email. "It seems that [in Japan] the crime of child pornography

is being treated as an economic crime rather than child abuse."

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