(formerly Polaris Project Japan)
We have concluded our activities as of March 2022. Thank you very much for all your support.
Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims is an NPO that works to eliminate the issue of human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, in Japan. We are committed to fighting for a society without human trafficking. Like a lighthouse that guides people who are lost in the dark to safe harbors, we hope to be the beacon of hope for survivors of human trafficking and to be their voice.
In February 2015, we published a manga, Blue Heart, based on the experiences of survivors who have reached out to our hotline. We published the manga in the hope of protecting children from the serious issue of commercialization of children’s sex in Japan. Our sincere wish is for this manga to be a tool for children to learn the issue and their rights, as well as for adults to learn the issue and stand up to take action to protect the children.
Thousands of parents, teachers, social workers, librarians, students, healthcare workers, and government officials have been utilizing the manga since publication. Blue Heart has also been covered in many media and has drawn international attention.
In October 2015, the manga was translated into Chinese by the Rotary Club of Taipei North. In 2018, it was also translated into English by a group of high school students at Yokohama International School.
There are many people who have reached out to our hotline after reading the manga and realizing that the situation they are in is very similar to the stories in the manga. Blue Heart has helped many victims to come forward.
We hope that more children and youth have access to this manga and that it contributes to the prevention of and the early intervention of sexual exploitation cases. But more than anything, we yearn for the realization of the society in which tool like Blue Heart is unneeded and there is no need for us to have to warn children to be careful of being sexually exploited.
Digital version of the manga is available on the website below. Please take a look.
Until 2004, I worked at anti-trafficking organization called Polaris (formerly known as Polaris Project) in the United States, and witnessed firsthand how communities can get together to restore the freedom of survivors of human trafficking and prevent more victims. I returned to Japan and founded Lighthouse (initially known as Polaris Project Japan) eleven years ago with a deep sense of mission to eliminate human trafficking in my home country.
The scale and effort required to run this project in Japan was a lot more significant than I initially envisioned. Lighthouse first started reaching out to people, one by one, in the hope to educating them about just how serious the issue of human trafficking was in Japan. Many of those who contacted us on our hotline were at first individuals trafficked into Japan, but more and more Japanese youth who were victims of domestic trafficking began to contact us.
Surely and steadily, we have expanded our activities while remaining focused on supporting our clients and their safety. In the past year, our caseload has doubled, and together with other organizations, we are creating a network to support our work outside of Tokyo. We have connected with parents, social workers, lawyers, politicians, and bureaucrats from local government and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
In 2015, we spoke to UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography during her visit to Japan to increase international awareness of the problems and consequences of child pornography and prostitution within the country. We also published a manga, Blue Heart, based on past cases that Lighthouse has received, which has received widespread media coverage. Through continuing our campaigns, outreach, and advocacy, our goal is to push for the establishment of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law in Japan by 2020.
Our work is just beginning. Together, we can realize a world without slavery.
Shihoko Fujiwara, Founder, NPO Lighthouse
Human trafficking takes away one’s right to freedom by, for example, harboring and transferring, and forcing one to perform a duty using threat, fraud or coercion, in order to exploit for profit. It is modern-day slavery.
For minors, Purpose and Act alone amounts to human trafficking even without the Means. Japan is the only developed country that has not ratified the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, which 186 other countries and territories participate in, leaving victims vulnerable.
Within Japan’s borders, human trafficking is rampant in the form of sex trafficking, particularly of youth. Unequal opportunities for women, poverty, domestic violence, and the sexual commodification of children in the mass media and popular culture form some of the root causes of the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in Japan.
Lighthouse receives many cases from human trafficking survivors who were involved in JK businesses or compensated dating that facilitate or lead to sexual exploitation, or were forced to appear in child erotica, photographs and videos depicting children under 18 with bikinis in sexually provocative poses, or pornographic videos. These minors are typically recruited into sex trafficking networks through social networking sites or messaging smartphone apps.
Learn more about human trafficking in Japan through this video?made by the students of Combat Human Trafficking Group at Yokohama International School. Lighthouse works closely with the group and they have been supporting our activities greatly.