Bill to restrict sex in Japanese manga likely to pass
Dec 14, 2010, 9:22 GMT
Tokyo - A bill to put stricter regulations on sexual depictions in Japanese manga and animation was expected to soon clear the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, news reports said Tuesday.
The bill to amend the Tokyo government's Youth Healthy Development Ordinance was likely to pass Wednesday.
Under the bill, Japanese publishers would be barred from selling 'manga, animations and other images,' excluding photography, that 'unduly glorify or exaggerate' certain sexual acts. Such depictions 'could inhibit the healthy development of youth,' according to the bill.
The bill specifically targets 'sexual or pseudosexual acts that would be illegal in real life or sexual or pseudosexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal.'
The Tokyo government would be allowed to restrict the sale or renting of images 'considered to be excessively disrupting to social order,' such as rape.
A current law prohibits the sale and renting of 'harmful publications,' which include those that are sexually stimulating or encourage cruelty, to those under 18.
Publishers were concerned the new bill would encourage self-censorship.
'Applying the existing punitive laws to actions in a fictional work and discussing whether they are good or bad is absolutely nonsense,' said Takashi Yamaguchi, a lawyer opposing the bill.
But Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara expressed frustration over the appearance of gay men and lesbians on Japanese television programmes.
'Homosexuals are appearing casually even on television,' Ishihara said. 'I feel homosexuals have something missing from them. It may be something genetic. I feel sorry for them being a minority.'
Publishers and cartoonists criticized the bill for violating freedom of expression and stifling creativity while other opponents criticized Ishihara, noting that he and Deputy Governor Naoki Inose benefited from that very freedom of expression in their successful careers as writers.
In 1955, a 23-year-old Ishihara made a smashing debut with Season of the Sun. The novel about rebellious young people was so provocative that some criticized it for a lack of morality while young people became fans.
Protesting the bill, 10 major publishing companies decided Friday to refuse to participate in the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2011, to be hosted by Ishihara in March.
'Now Tokyo has lost the trust of the publishing industry, and this will be a huge blow to them,' Dan Kanemitsu, a Tokyo-based translator said in his blog. 'In the eyes of the manga and anime community, many feel the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has lost its legitimacy as a fair regulator.'
A similar bill was submitted in March, but it was voted down in June amid mounting opposition from writers and publishers as well as criticism by members of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest party, who said its regulations were vague.
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