Category "ZOE Japan"

ZOE Japan Team Member Writes About a Way to Prevent Exploitation of Children

April 22, 2024

THE NEED FOR SEX EDUCATION By Yuri Osborne

Sextortion is a combination of the words sex & extortion.

A perpetrator would befriend a person online and convince them to send nude images or videos, and then start to threaten and force them into paying money or complying with more extreme sexual demands such as sending more sexual images or even forcing them into prostitution.

In general, most people would immediately call the police or ask for help if they are blackmailed, but when someone says, “If you don’t want your naked pictures shared with others, you have to pay up!” then there is a sense of shame mixed in. When a victim realizes that their sexual photos or videos may be released to the public, they feel a strong sense of guilt, causing them to fear reporting the incident to the police and becoming more and more isolated.

Without exception, all children that contacted our ZOE Japan hotline between July and September, refused to tell their parents or the police about their exploitation. Often, one of the reasons cited is: “I don’t want my parents to know that I am having sexual relations with others.”

How sad to think that children are victims of sexual exploitation, but feel unable to ask their parents for help or consult with police or lawyers. One of the reasons behind this is the lack of sex education in Japan.

According to one survey, about 80% of Japanese households raising children say that they do not provide sex education at home, or that they feel the need for it but do not provide it. Culturally, talking about anything sexual is taboo and is left to schools. However, policies such as “hadome” rules are enforced in schools, which means that teachers are not allowed to teach students about sexual activity itself. Things like conception and pregnancy are taught, but the process (physical sexual acts) is not explained, causing children to become curious and seek information through other sources or try to experience it themselves.

Age appropriate sex education is essential in helping children to realize what is happening to them and can even prevent them from becoming a victim of sexual exploitation. By openly discussing such issues in a safe environment at home, it can lay a strong foundation that enables children to reach out to their parents or a trusted adult when they are in a situation of being victimized.

One survivor who came to ZOE Japan for advice was routinely verbally abused and threatened by a man she met on social media, and was at the mercy of her abuser. However, she was ashamed of the fact that she had a boyfriend and sexual relations with him, and she did not want to tell her parents or teachers because she felt like she was doing something wrong.

If this child’s parents had established a relationship in which they could talk openly about romantic relationships and sex, she might have opened up to her parents, or even agreed to talk to the police (who require that parents are informed first) so that she could receive loving support, and exploitation of other children could be prevented.

Even for small children, simple instructions like: “Run and tell mommy or daddy when someone tries to touch or take pictures of the inside of your underwear, because it’s an important body part. Remember that it is not your fault” can prevent a lot of damage.



 

ZOE Japan Team Addresses Insights and Collaborates at Conference on Human Trafficking in Japan

January 29, 2024

Recently, The National Police Agency of Japan hosted its 19th Contact Point Liaison Conference on Trafficking in Persons.

During this bilingual event, valuable information and trends were shared by experts from the Community Safety Bureau of the National Police Agency, Tokyo Metropolitan Police, Immigration Services Agency and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

This year, ZOE Japan was blessed to be invited as a guest speaker for the event! Hiromi Hataji, ZOE Japan’s Regional Director, delivered a passionate presentation on the topic of “Protecting children against sexual exploitation.”

Her presentation included some of the alarming trends in online sextortion, tactics of perpetrators, and factors that make children more vulnerable to be targeted by traffickers. 

We are so grateful for God’s favor in giving us this valuable opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless, and to continue our collaboration with the National Police Agency in the fight against child trafficking.  



“I recognized that I was a victim of sextortion.” 

March 21, 2022

A Survivor’s Story

Kanako* is a typical teenager. She likes to hang out with friends and dreams about a steady boyfriend. She has been researching her options to go to a university in a few years. When the stress of upcoming exams and strained relations with her parents became too much, she was relieved to meet a young man online who she believed understood her. “I was nervous at first, but I got to know him through video calls,” said Kanako. “He reassured me that he was someone I could trust.” 

Soon after he began pushing Kanako to send nude photos and videos of herself, and she reluctantly agreed, afraid to lose the only steady relationship in her life. “Once he got the photos I sent, he stopped talking with me and started to cyberbully me before breaking all contact.”

At her lowest point of devastation and fear, Kanako came across ZOE Japan’s content on Twitter. Reading through ZOE’s prevention posts, she realized that she is not alone and that other girls have also gone through the same thing! “I reached out to ZOE via a LINE message and shared my story with the ZOE staff. I recognized that I was a victim of sextortion and that this guy was committing a crime!” With ZOE’s help, Kanako received legal advice at no cost and proceeded with the next steps to bring the perpetrator to justice. We praise God for the opportunity to bring hope and restoration to survivors like Kanako.

*Pseudonym: ZOE protects the identity and dignity of children and does not share actual names or show trafficked children’s faces.

Definition of sextortion: the practice of forcing someone to do something, particularly to perform sexual acts, by threatening to publish naked pictures of them or sexual information about them. (Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/sextortion)

ZOE Japan 2021 Quarter 4 Impact:

  • Japan’s Hotline – Our Japanese and English podcasts extend their reach and recently surpassed 1,000 downloads with listeners in 60 different countries.
  • 14 Presentations/Awareness Opportunities
  • 20 Outreach/prayer walks
  • 30 Interviews with survivors
  • 11 Schools distributed ZOE prevention materials
  • 41,000+ Social Media Profile Visits

Child Trafficking in Japan

September 22, 2021

“As reported over the past five years, human traffickers subject Japanese and foreign men and women to forced labor and sex trafficking, and they subject Japanese children to sex trafficking”

– U.S. Department of State, Trafficking In Persons Report, June 2021

Worth an estimated $24 billion(1), the sex industry of Japan is considered enormous by any standard. The pornography industry alone reached a value of approximately $960 million in 2019(2). To meet this huge demand, it comes as no surprise then that thousands of men, women and children are living in conditions of modern day slavery(3).

What is perhaps surprising, is that the general public remains largely unaware of this terrible evil occurring in plain sight. Those that are familiar with the concept of human trafficking perceive it as something that happens in developing countries as a result of poverty and lack of education, certainly not in Japan.

Skyline of Japan with Lets fight human trafficking in the sky

Skyline of Japan with Lets fight human trafficking in the sky

It is a long and slow process for the authorities and non-profit sector to lift the veil on this terrible crime, introduce much needed policy reforms and facilitate a change in the mindset of survivors, perpetrators and the general public at large. Bi-annual meetings between the government and members of JNATIP (Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons) provides a critical platform to identify issues and develop action plans to address the gaps.

However, despite the efforts of government and activists, the lack of awareness and remaining legal loopholes provide plenty of opportunities to exploit Japanese and foreign women for prostitution, with perpetrators often targeting women (including single mothers) that are vulnerable after losing their regular jobs due to the impact of COVID-19. Many young men are also trapped in the industry, but Japanese legislation only recognizes women as potential victims, making it extremely difficult for men to find a legal avenue out of their situation.

But it’s not just sex trafficking. In recent years, labor exploitation of migrant workers has come into sharp focus in the local and international media. This is specifically prevalent in the government’s Technical Intern Training Program, which despite its good intentions, often finds sending organizations or local employers abusing loopholes in the system to exploit workers through debt bondage and poor working conditions.

Especially disturbing is the exploitation of children. The possession of child sexual abuse images (child pornography) was declared illegal in 2014, a great step forward, but still remains widely available. This contributes to the exploitation of thousands of children for prostitution, sextortion and various other forms of sexual abuse. While law enforcement is cracking down on perpetrators, NPOs such as ZOE Japan focus on raising awareness among parents and children, a key prevention strategy, and supporting survivors of child trafficking with potentially life-saving information and resources.

The It’s A Penalty Tokyo Campaign provides a fantastic opportunity to accelerate these awareness and prevention efforts. Through this campaign, we aim to provide a message of hope to survivors and to actively engage the public in the battle to eliminate human trafficking in Japan.

As an organization on the front line, we are greatly encouraged to have the backing of It’s A Penalty as we move forward with our goal to reach every person and rescue every child.

Written by Annerie van Wyk

– @ZOEJapan

Hoffman, Michael (25 April 2007). “Japan’s love affairs with sex”. The Japan Times Online. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1125880/japan-market-size-non-contact-sex-self-pleasure/
https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/country-studies/japan/

ZOE Japan Brings Awareness to Tokyo Olympics

September 17, 2021

With UK nonprofit, It’s a Penalty, ZOE Japan worked on the frontlines of a large-scale human trafficking awareness campaign for the Tokyo Summer 2021 Olympics, held July 23rd through August 8th.

 

“We are excited to have worked together with It’s a Penalty to raise awareness of human trafficking around the Tokyo Summer Olympics,” said Hiromi Hataji, ZOE Japan Regional Director.

“We prepared various campaign materials and distributed videos, posters, and other awareness materials at airports, train stations, participating hotel groups, and other key locations. The ZOE Japan team also established a new call center that was used during the Olympics and that we will continue to use ongoingly. We have received calls from concerned family members and directly from potential survivors of human trafficking.”

ZOE Japan is spearheading the call center and owns the number, but support for survivors is provided in collaboration with other NPOs that are also members of JNATIP (Japan Network Against Trafficking In Persons).

“By utilizing this professional network, we are able not only to provide support to children but also to connect adult survivors with specialist organizations that can support them,” said Hiromi.

“The call center number is the official number used for the It’s A Penalty campaign, providing a great amount of exposure.  And, now that the Olympics are over, we are continuing to use the same call center number for cases related to children.”

Learn more about the Tokyo Olympics human trafficking awareness campaign.

 

It’s a Penalty campaign video shown on the Tokyo Metro, the Haneda Airport, Shibuya Crossing, on Emirates, Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific Flights.

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.