Starting April 1, Japan will lower its legal adult age from 20 to 18, which may allow some high school students to legally star in adult films.
The new law will give those who are 18 and over all of the rights and responsibilities that come with being a legal adult, including the ability to sign credit card, loan and marriage contracts or apartment leases. The motive behind the change in civil code involves the notion that people should participate in society sooner, against the backdrop of Japan’s low birth rates.
However, many in the country have voiced fears that actors as young as 18 years old, many of whom may still be in their final year of high school, will be able to legally star in adult films once the new law goes into effect.
There is ongoing debate between Japanese lawmakers on whether there should be an amendment that would continue shielding 18- and 19-year-old people from the adult film industry. The concern is that young women could be victimized or tricked into partaking in pornography, or that adult films depicting young girls will become an increasingly popular category.
In a meeting at the National Diet building, where Japan’s legislative sessions are held, a former adult film actor shared her experience with being pressured to appear in pornography as a college senior. She pleaded that the court uphold Article 5 of the Civil Law, which protects minors who were tricked or pressured into appearing in adult videos, to have their work removed from sales. Without the amendment, 18- and 19-year-old actors will no longer need parental consent when they sign contracts starting April 1.
“I have heard that some people committed suicide after having similar experiences,” she stated. “There should be a measure to respond to such circumstances, even if the legal age of adulthood is lowered.”
The AV Human Rights and Ethics Organization, a nonprofit committed to protecting the rights and interests of adult film actresses, recently established a third-party committee to address the issue of forced adult video appearances. They also sent notices to adult video studios to “strongly [recommend]” that only actors aged 20 and over be continued to be filmed.
Experts in Japan have also raised the issue of 18- and 19-year-olds no longer being protected from purchase scams by their parents or guardians. Since adults will no longer be able to nullify contracts or purchases on behalf of 18- and 19-year-olds, the worry is that young consumers will be heavily targeted by false advertisements such as the promise of instant weight loss or be roped into pyramid schemes.