Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cool Japan chilled: Ishihara gets his censorship bill

Earlier today in Tokyo, the Metropolitan Assembly passed the government's revised bill to amend the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance--otherwise known as the "non-existent youth" bill, a story I wrote about late last month, and also last spring, when the revised bill was first submitted for approval and was flatly rejected.

While restrictions on sexually stimulating and/or harmful depictions have long been in place, the new revisions specifically target "manga and anime," while exempting real-life photography (explain that one), and focus on materials that may be "disrupting of social order"--much like Ishihara's own taboo-breaking novels and plays, and his more recent nationalist, racist and homophobic blather.

In objection, ten major manga publishers--Kadokawa Shoten, Shueisha, Kodansha, Akita Shoten, Hakusensha, Shogakukan, Shonen Gahousha, Shinchosa, Futubasha and LEED--have vowed to pull their wares from the 2011 Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF), whose executive committee is chaired by Ishihara himself. Rumors are emerging that the action could prompt a cancellation of next year's TAF.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is taking the news seriously enough to post the following commentary on his blog--the first time, I'm told, that the PM has posted in the first-person under his own name:

"There is another topic I would like to talk about concerning [the strength of] the Japanese brand. Currently, there are concerns over the possibility that the Tokyo International Animation Fair could be cancelled due to controversies related to the healthy development of youth issues. Healthy development of youth is an important issue. At the same time, it is important that Japanese animation is broadcast to a global audience. I urge all parties involved to try to work toward preventing a situation where an international animation fair cannot be held within Tokyo." [transl. Dan Kanemitsu; ital. mine]

Per usual, Tokyo-based translator and writer Dan Kanemitsu nails all the ugly details down on his indispensable blog.

Any of you remember the ‘Comics Code’ in America, effectively shutting down the most creative comics artists in the US in the 1950s, as aptly recorded by David Hadju in The Ten Cent Plague? Let's hope that doesn't happen in Japan.

>>More @ The Comics Journal


ArthurFrDent said...

one quick thing... is this ONLY for Tokyo? Or is it something where 'as goes Tokyo, so goes the rest of the country'?

Dan's blog is excellent, thanks for the pointer.

I 'dun understand the need for the law, it looks like it was already covered under previous law, at least as translation seems to indicate. were they having trouble prosecuting it?

Roland Kelts said...

Definitely a case of 'as Tokyo goes, so goes Japan,' and as Dan points out, the crux of the amendment is granting the government authority to legislate morality, to determine which images/stories might be 'disrupting society' by depicting acts or behavior that would be deemed 'illegal' in the real world. That this legislation could be applied to unions between same-sex couples is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.