In 1991, Asahi Press issued the nude photography book “Santa Fe,” featuring actress Rie Miyazawa. Photographed by Kishin Shinoyama, the book caused a sensation, eventually shipping a whopping 1.55 million copies.
Given that Miyazawa was probably under the age of 18 at the time of the shoot, Nikkan Sports (Aug. 17) uses the book as a talking point for what impact may lie ahead as a result of recent revisions to the child pornography prohibition law. As of July 15, the possession of explicit material featuring minors became illegal. Previously, only the production and sale of such content was against the law.
Toru Okumura (@okumuraosaka), an attorney in Osaka who specializes in child pornography cases, says that “Santa Fe” could come under scrutiny.
“If the police apply the meaning of ‘simple possession’ strictly, then a copy of ‘Santa Fe’ in one’s home could be a criminal offense,” says the lawyer.
Upon its release on November 13, 1991, Miyazawa was 18 years old. However, during the shooting it is very likely that she was a minor. (Her birthday is April 6.)
“Santa Fe” gained landmark status for its erotic portrayal of the then young actress. Shot in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the book shows a fully nude Miyazawa lounging in a number of seductive positions both outside among the desert landscape and indoors. But it was the non-obscured glimpse of her pubic hair — an unheard of display at the time — that caused the real sensation.
With the book maintaining its popularity today, Okumura says that a crackdown on its owners would cause a huge stir.
“If the police do take action, there will be a lot of criticism regarding abuse of power,” says the lawyer.
In July 2014, the Diet enacted the revision to the law. A one-year period was used to allow for the disposal of possibly illegal material. Lawmakers have said that Japan’s current laws lag behind the rest of the world, and that the nation’s reputation is at stake.
The number of child pornography infractions handled by law enforcement has been steadily increasing since 2012, according to data from the National Police Agency. In 2014, there were 1,828 cases handled by law enforcement, the highest figure on record.
The revision may also cause manga and anime works to fall under scrutiny if any erotic scenes are deemed to include children. Kawamura says that works considered to be art could also be targeted, which could lead to complications.
Violators of the revised law face up to one year in prison or a fine of one million yen.
As to “Santa Fe,” Okumura offers little in the way of advice to owners intent on keeping the book.
“All they can do is pray that Miyazawa was 18 years old at the time of the shooting,” says the lawyer.