- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

LOSS OF INNOCENCE

The U.S. ambassador in Tokyo is hoping that the sexual abuse of two Japanese children on the Internet will shame the government into banning child pornography.

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer said FBI agents in Los Angeles discovered the videos of a girl identified by the pseudonym, “Mari,” who was raped by a Japanese man, and of a boy identified by the pseudonym, “Jun,” who was raped by another Japanese man.

Mr. Schieffer, writing in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, noted that the United States and five other members of the “Group of Seven” industrialized nations have criminalized the possession of child pornography.

“Only Japan allows people to posses these hideous images without penalty,” he wrote in the article posted Monday on the U.S. Embassy’s Web site (http://tokyo.usembassy.gov).

“Critics argue that innocent people will be prosecuted if Japan passes such a law. But what about the innocence of Mari and Jun? They were victims of a crime. For the rest of their lives, they will be haunted by the images that crime produced.”

The ambassador argued that the six G-7 nations “found ways to protect the innocent from being prosecuted for possession of child pornography” and that it is “time for Japan to find a way to punish the guilty.”

He noted that Japan is a “major source and center” for the “production, distribution and consumption” of videos of sexual abuse of children, and police cannot even confiscate the material.

Mr. Schieffer urged readers to lobby the government in Tokyo to ban child pornography.

“Maybe then Mari and Jun will find hope and a little joy in the New Year,” he said.

MEXICO ‘SOLID’

Unemployment is rising and the peso is falling, but the U.S. ambassador in Mexico still hopes the country can avoid falling victim to the financial crisis in the United States.

“Mexico enjoys continued economic growth, low foreign debt, strong dollar reserves, controlled inflation and solid financial institutions,” Ambassador Antonio O. Garza Jr. said in a statement on the U.S. Embassy’s Web site (http://mexico.usembassy.gov).

Mr. Garza credited the government of conservative President Felipe Calderon for “impressive” economic policies that created jobs, reduced poverty and promoted “future economic development.”

However, Mexico is showing signs of suffering from the U.S. financial crisis. Unemployment jumped to 4.47 percent in November from 4.1 percent in October. The peso fell more than 20 percent against the U.S. dollar last year. Private analysts are skeptical of government predictions of an economic growth rate of 1.8 percent in 2009.

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