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FINDING NEW WAYS TO BE A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS IN JAPAN

February 10, 2021

Japan,

the land of the rising sun. It’s a name that is associated with state-of-the-art technology, a superb transport infrastructure, attention to detail, quality workmanship, and a humble, polite culture. No wonder that people are surprised to learn that below the shiny surface, things are not always what they seem.

 

A long history of sexual objectification of women and children has led to a society that has become numb to the sexual exploitation of children. Thousands of children are trapped in various forms of trafficking with nowhere to turn!

 

But there is HOPE.

 

ZOE Japan is called to be a voice-for-the-voiceless, and we are fully committed to the kingdom goal of eliminating child trafficking in Japan. God has blessed our small team with a unique set of skills that enables us to reach out to vulnerable children and victims in new ways.

 

For example,

Japan is the home of manga, a unique style of Japanese comic books or graphic novels. It is a powerful communication tool with great potential to be used for prevention work. After all, Jesus himself was a great storyteller and although He did not use manga, His parables continue to convey crucial messages to us until this day. Our trial project to produce our own short manga story was an interesting learning experience, and we are encouraged to see that our format seems to appeal to Japanese young people. New stories are now underway.

 

In addition to various speaking opportunities and outreaches, we have just launched our own podcast channel in English, with a Japanese version coming very soon. Each episode helps the listener to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges that Japan is facing, the various initiatives by the government, ZOE and other NPOs to combat child trafficking, and the additional programs and resources that are required to make a true impact. Our first three episodes can be found on any major podcast app by searching ZOE Japan, or directly on our dedicated web page www.gozoe.jp/podcast.

 

We are also excited about:

New doors that are opening to reach Japan through the performing arts, and have taken the first step by producing a beautiful music video in collaboration with a local Christian artist. The video is sure to touch the heart of any vulnerable teenager, and provides a bridge for us to share the gospel of Jesus, and to educate them about the dangers of trafficking. See the video on the ZOE Japan YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xbRRC8dl1E

 

God is moving in Japan, for sure.

 

If you feel the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart strings, then don’t hesitate! Partner with us today, because together we can reach every person and rescue every child.

Collaborating with Law Enforcement to Recover Human Trafficking Victims

February 5, 2021

ZOE collaborates with human trafficking task forces in Thailand, Japan, and the United States, including law enforcement, government, and community agency partners. In Los Angeles, ZOE is a partner of the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force. Such collaboration is vital to identify and recover victims and investigate and prosecute traffickers.

In January 2021, ZOE had the privilege of speaking before the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, along with other community organizations and survivor leaders, to express support for the City Council to fully fund the Los Angeles Police Department’s Human Trafficking Task Forces in the midst of possible department budget cuts.

ZOE staff on ZOOm for Human Trafficking task force meeting

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, budget cuts limited human trafficking operations outside of regular business hours. These cuts reduced opportunities to recover human trafficking more victims, including children.

Human trafficking investigations and operations require many hours, and usually months, of building rapport with and interviewing victims, investigations, and collaboration efforts to successfully identify and recover victims and investigate and prosecute cases against traffickers.

During the meeting, ZOE’s Chief Operating Office Dave Cox told the commission the following quote:

“Without dedicated law enforcement efforts, child trafficking will grow in our city.”

In the end, the commissioners voted to recommend that the City Council fully fund the human trafficking task forces.

We are thankful for our dedicated law enforcement and other partners who work tirelessly to help recover our most vulnerable children from human trafficking.

 

Author Ester Yu

Love-less Love Hotels

January 28, 2021

Japan is notorious for its sex industry, more often referred to as the adult entertainment industry. All major train stations are surrounded by izakaya (a Japanese traditional bar), hostess bars, karaoke venues, and Love Hotels. Sadly, these “Love Hotels” promise everything but love.

 

Love hotels offer customers elaborately decorated rooms that can be booked for anything from one hour to multiple days. All kinds of sexual toys, cosplay clothing, food, and accessories can be ordered for room delivery without ever encountering any hotel staff face-to-face. Even the check-in process is completely contactless in order to protect the privacy of customers. An article on May 12th in Japan Today reports that the demand for this so-called “love” did not decline with the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead has increased in suburban areas.

 

Regrettably, these hotels are not frequented by married couples looking for a romantic getaway, but instead are often used to exploit women and children or engage in extramarital affairs. It is even considered a common and acceptable business practice for business colleagues to go to an izakaya for drinking after work, followed by karaoke in a hostess bar, finally leading for a Love Hotel for a few hours before catching the last train home. If only we could stand on the rooftops of these hotels and shout out: THIS IS NOT LOVE!  

 

The Bible teaches us about real love:  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13

 

In a recent case:

in the Machida/Yokohama area, a 10-year old girl was groomed through TikTok by a 34-year old perpetrator. Excited to meet her new online friend face-to-face, the young girl was probably surprised to find that he was an adult male that had more than friendship in mind. Already familiar with her school name and home address, it was easy for him to threaten and manipulate the frightened child to accompany him to a Love Hotel where he sexually assaulted her. If only we could’ve accelerated our prevention efforts and ensured that the hotel staff were trained to identify and report this trafficking case before the abuse could take place.  We could’ve saved this child from the guilt, shame, and fear that she had to suffer! This is just one of many cases that happen daily in Japan.

 

There are several ways that you can partner with us to stop the exploitation at Love Hotels. Firstly, make sure that the children you have contact with are aware of the dangers of grooming through social media. Secondly, pray for ZOE Japan as we work with various stakeholders to call for stricter regulation over the Love Hotel industry, including mandatory training for hotel staff and the availability of awareness and prevention materials in hotels to provide information to potential victims. Thirdly, consider a one-time or ongoing donation to ZOE Japan so that we can expand and accelerate our prevention efforts.

 

May those who purchase services at Love Hotels and the staff discover the TRUE LOVE of Jesus and invite Him into their lives to fill the void in their hearts and set them free!

 

Author:

Annerie Van Wyk, ZOE Japan Missionary

Cuties and the Exploitation of Children

October 20, 2020

On August 19, 2020, Netflix began promoting a French film called Cuties, which was set for worldwide release on September 9, 2020. The film (originally called Mignonnes) by French Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré and Netflix’s marketing campaign brought about worldwide criticism, petitions to remove the film from Netflix, and campaigns to #cancelNetflix due the public’s concerns that the film promotes the sexualization and commercial sexual exploitation of children and appeals to the appetites of pedophiles.

On September 23, 2020, a grand jury indicted Netflix for the “promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child.”

Although Doucouré has stated that her intention was “to show that our children should have the time to be children, and we as adults should protect their innocence and keep them innocent as long as possible,” in the making and promoting of the film, young girls were exploited in the process and continue to be exploited every time someone views the film. The lead actress is just 11 years old.

Legal Exploitation

Imagery in films like these normalize the sexualization of children and are legal forms of online child sexual exploitation. Individuals and companies are profiting from the exploitation of children in this film. Exploiters can easily take images and videos from this film and upload them to sites profiting from commercialized sexual abuse imagery of children. In addition, with children watching films like these, they are being exposed to and influenced by sexualized behaviors and media representations of children.

Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)

As a society, we need to take a stand and draw the line against media imagery that fuels the demand for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), their CyberTipline has received over 65 million reports of the online exploitation of children, 312 million images and videos have been reviewed, and over 18,900 victims have been identified by law enforcement. NCMEC further reports that survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) “speak to the long-lasting damage and impact of their images and videos being circulated on the internet.

Subscription-based Services

The lack of control of both the files’ existence and circulation leaves the survivors struggling in their recovery.” In 2018, “teen” was one of the Top 10 search terms from the most consumed pornographic website. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that “[s]ome child traffickers adjusted to the reluctance of buyers to meet in-person to engage in commercial sex. Some traffickers are now offering options for subscription-based services in which buyers pay to access online images and videos of the child.”

The sexual abuse imagery of children exists because there is a demand for it. Let us fight to protect the dignity of children, especially in media, imagery, and the internet.