An Industry Seen Through the Eyes of One Pornographer

For the most part, Sekiya Saida is comfortable in his work.

He writes erotic novels, produces videos, and contributes to a child pornography magazine called "Alice Club." He estimates that about 40 percent of this work involves sexual depictions of children. He's been in this profession for 20 years.

Mr. Saida's amiable personal style suggests an easygoing prosperity. He writes with a Mont Blanc, keeps time with a Rolex, and wears jeans and casual shirts. His peace of mind comes from the absence of any Japanese law that specifically prohibits child pornography.

"There are cases where child pornography has led people to try to seduce children," he acknowledges. "But other people who use this material find an outlet for their frustrations. There are two sides to the coin."

Even so, he admits to some reservations about visual pornography involving children. No matter how sensitively children are handled, he explains, they are not able to make a fully informed decision about whether to participate in pornography.

For this reason, he says he would immediately heed any regulation outlawing such material.

Saida speaks from experience. In 1987, when it became more difficult for pornographers to use Japanese children, Saida and a cameraman went to Thailand to make a series of videos.

An agent procured nine girls for Saida and brought them to a rented bungalow in the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai. They kept the girls for three days, recorded 10 hours of video tape, and once back in Japan, produced six, 40-minute video tapes.

The girls were supposed to be 15 years old, but Saida says they looked younger, as the videos demonstrate.

"In this kind of production you have to take care of the models. If they get angry, everything is ruined," he says. "We tried to relax them and gave them little tips [of money]. I didn't force them. I just tried to be kind. So I don't think I harmed anyone."

In one of the tapes, the girls are seen in groups of three or four inside and around the bungalow. They are usually naked, although the girls often try to shield parts of their bodies from the camera. Their expressions range from embarrassment to amusement to boredom.

To conform with the self-administered guidelines of Japan's child-pornography industry, there is no sexual activity and the girl's genitals are most often hidden behind blurry circles.

Pornographers sometimes claim the money the Southeast Asian girls earn from making such videos means they will not be sent into prostitution by their families. "I don't agree with that [rationale]," Saida says. "I know I'm not doing anything laudable."

Saida paid each of nine girls a total of 30,000 baht or approximately $50 at prevailing exchange rates and paid the agent about $80. The tapes have sold for years for 10,000 yen or 14,000 yen each - at today's rates $83 and $117. Saida won't be specific about his profits, but says each one has sold past the break-even point of 300 copies.

Saida was open in describing the project, saying everything he does is legal and that he never again went abroad in search of children to videotape. Instead, as a producer, he has used the work of freelance cameramen.

But he asked that his real name be kept out of this article, in favor of his pen name, to avoid any future difficulties in traveling.

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