Manga Censorship Panel Liveblog

This is a special panel discussing the various issues facing manga censorship in Japan. With the advent of the Youth Ordinance that passed in Tokyo recently, this panel features several speakers who were active in opposing the law and are on the front lines of navigating the tough issues on the subject.

Panelists include Yukari Fujimoto (Meiji University), Daniel Kanemitsu (Translativearts.com), and Takashi Yamaguchi (attorney from Tokyo), and is moderated by CJ Suzuki (City University of New York). This is a more academic conference than most panels.

13.21

The panel is now over. Thanks everyone, to my new followers and faves on Twitter! #SDCC

13.19

The police have very broad power to determine obscenity. The working criteria is showing genitals. No longer applies to text. #SDCC

13.17

There is no political dissent aspect of this censorship. It really is an issue about obscenity, and that definition can change. #SDCC

13.13

Japan comes from a civil, not common, law tradition. We can share similar ideas but have very different details. #SDCC

13.11

Japanese courts tend to be reluctant about overturning laws as unconstitutional, so that route is an uphill battle. #SDCC

13.10

That amendment in a way reveals the real intent of the law. The current law is a face-saving political compromise. #SDCC

13.07

The rejected amendment from June 2010 tried to create the “non-existent youth” class and also fund moral watchdog groups. #SDCC

13.05

“Sexual or pseudo-sexual acts that would be illegal in real life”—does that include two high school kids having sex? #SDCC

13.03

The big change with the Youth Ordinance law is that it names manga and anime specifically as potentially harmful material. #SDCC

13.03

The Youth Ordinance are local laws, and actually most prefectures have similar laws. #SDCC

13.01

Anime/manga don’t currently fall under the child porn law, but many want to change it. #SDCC

12.57

Three criteria: 1.) Violating the sexual sense of shame; 2.) Strongly titillating; 3.) “Decency” and “social convention” #SDCC

12.56

The famous pubic hair law is a directly result of Article 175.#SDCC

12.55

The obscenity law was essentially forced upon Japan by Western treaties during the Meiji period. #SDCC

12.54

Relevant laws: Article 175, Child Porn Law, the Youth Ordinance. Article 175 is the obscenity law. #SDCC

12.51

Censorship in Japan is legally defined ONLY as forbidding publication beforehand—not afterwards! #SDCC

12.51

Article 21 of the Japanese Constitution guarantees free speech and no censorship. But it’s interpreted narrowly. #SDCC

12.49

Takashi Yamaguchi, a lawyer from Tokyo: “Legal Backgrounds concerning ‘Censorship and Manga’ in Japan.” #SDCC

12.49

Japanese censorship is now an international issue, with the involvement of NGOs and other groups involved on the issue #SDCC

12.46

Part of it is b/c of a conflation between “virtual” and “real” child porn; the latter has real victims. #SDCC

12.44

Foreign pressure does play a role in these censorship efforts. There is a perception that Japan is a child porn haven for instance—but it’s not actually true. Less than 10% of such things are hosted in Japan. #SDCC

12.41

Nowhere else in the world than in Japan do women have so much agency in fiction and comics. #SDCC

12.39

Now with lots of overseas attention to Japanese pop culture, governments are looking at it. They didn’t much before. #SDCC

12.38

“Adult” material in US comics was always breaking ground—going against the Comics Code, etc. Not in Japan. #SDCC

12.34

We tend to think of preventive censorship; Japanese censors try to remove ideas that are already out there. #SDCC

12.33

The cultural context is vastly different and a different set of concerns, drive those kinds of decisions. #SDCC

12.31

Japanese artists and publishers are not necessarily going to fight censorship laws as much as Americans might assume. #SDCC

12.30

Next up: Dan Kanemitsu, on the disjunctions of perceptions of censorship in Japan vs America. #SDCC

12.27

Women aren’t necessarily uniformly in favor of the censorship laws. There’s a lot of erotica aimed at them too. #SDCC

12.21

And now a discussion about “ladies’ comics” and BL. Fujimoto insists—it’s made by women, for women, vs some American expectations. #SDCC

12.17

It might be possible that manga helps children distance themselves from the worse impulses via its depiction in manga. #SDCC

12.16

And yet, crime in Japan is much lower. Rape rates, for adults and minors, have gone down a lot since its peak in the 1960s, just as the self-censorship of manga ended. #SDCC

12.14

“There is no doubt that sex and violence plays a larger role in manga compared to other nations.” —Fujimoto #SDCC

12.11

Fujimoto: half of all manga produced, and more than half the revenue, is for manga intended for adults. (Not porn.) #SD

12.10

Fujimoto: In fact, it’s better to compare manga to films and novels in America, not comics. It’s much more mainstream. #SDCC

12.08

Yukari Fujimoto: the Japanese manga market is much larger and more diverse than the US comic book market—by 15 times. #SDCC

12.03

The original title of the panel was specifically about the Tokyo Youth Ordinance bill, which forbids the sale of 18+ manga to minors. #SDCC

4 thoughts on “Manga Censorship Panel Liveblog”

  1. (sighs) The only thing I can think about is, that U.S. lived through eight years of Bush, so I can only imagine that Japan would eventually work through their issues.. so it is as hopeful as events on how they passed gay marriage in New York.. so perhaps later then? Thanks for the live post.

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