The production, sale, distribution, and commercialization of child pornography in Japan is illegal under the Act on Punishment of Activities Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children (1999), and is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of ¥5,000,000. Simple possession of child pornography was made illegal by an amendment to the act in 2014. Virtual child pornography, which depicts wholly-fictional characters, is legal to produce and possess.
Manga artists and anime directors have argued that it is dangerous to try to define child pornography when it comes to artwork, drawings, and animation when regarding hentai due to it being highly ambiguous, and have cited freedom of expression to prevent it from being abused. For example, they argued that even in the anime and manga series Doraemon, the scene of the schoolgirl Shizuka Minamoto taking a bath might be construed as "child pornography".