Anime and Manga More Harmful Than TV and Films According to Tokyo

The text of the new revision of the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths is now available.

http://yama-ben.cocolog-nifty.com/20101122seishounenjourei.pdf

Amazingly enough, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government still has not released the text on the Internet. You need to physically go to the TMG offices to get a copy or have someone do it for you. The copy above was provided by Attorney Yamaguchi.

The below two reveal the how the revision will impact the final form of the current ordinance.
http://www1.odn.ne.jp/himagine_no9/tojourei-20101130-2.pdf
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pprDalw9Cg6bkM7vlmX90AxzcpmNVKaJhy2eij6wrBg/preview?hl=ja&authkey=CMrojNwI&pli=1&sle=true#

The revision contains numerous provisions over restricting minors’ access to information and entertainment, but I will focus on how the revision will directly impact anime and manga.

It is clear the authors of the bill also had manga and anime in mind, since they state specifically that the new restrictions will not cover written text and material involving real people, i.e. photographs, TV and movies.

The new class material to be self regulated is:
Any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, or sexual or pseudo sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal*, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity in such a way that they would impede upon the formation of a healthy ability for judgement regarding sexuality of youth and there by be detrimental toward the healthy development of youth.

* To see what types of marriages are unlawful under Japanese law, go to the very end to the section titled * To note, the following marriages are forbidden under Japanese law.

The above is the exact translation of the text of the new bill, and therefore somewhat cumbersome.

To recap:

- Any character (no age restriction).
– In any manga, anime, or pictures (most likely including games).
– That feature sexual acts or sexual like acts that would be illegal in real life OR any sexual acts or sexual like acts between close relative who could not marry if they were real.*
– Where the depiction / representation of the act is presented in an unjustifiably glorified or overly exaggerated manner.
=> Is considered harmful to a minor’s mental health regarding sexuality, and therefore restricted.

Self-regulation means publishers and retailers themselves have to judge what material would constitute the above definition. If they repeatedly don’t comply, they could get face sanctions for not noncompliance, but the books themselves cannot be deemed to be harmful by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. To that requires a slightly higher threshold.

If the November revision draft is passed as is, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will have the authority to define the following additional material as harmful to youth and restrict their circulation unilaterally.

Any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, or sexual or pseudo sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal*, where the sexual acts or pseudo sexual acts involve acts that excessively disrupt social order, such as rape, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity in such a way that they would excessively impede upon the formation of a healthy ability for judgement regarding sexuality of youth and there by be detrimental toward the healthy development of youth.

Another literal translation that is hard to read, so let us recap once more:

- Any character (no age restriction).
– In any manga, anime, or pictures (most likely including games).
– That feature sexual acts or sexual like acts that would be illegal in real life OR any sexual acts or sexual like acts between close relative who could not marry* if they were real AND where the sexual or sexual like act is considered to be excessively disrupting of social order (i.e. rape and anything else that could be deemed to be highly disruptive of social order.)
– Where the depiction / representation of the act is presented in an unjustifiably glorified or overly exaggerated manner.
=> Is considered harmful to a minor’s mental health regarding sexuality, and therefore the Tokyo Metropolitan Government shall have the power to unilaterally restrict the material.

Many newspapers and advocates for this revision make it sound like this revision is simply about keeping hard core erotic material out of the hands of children. While the stipulations regarding “no depictions of sexual acts between close relatives” sounds silly, keeping erotic presentation of incest out of hands of children doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

But there is an important catch that you have to keep in mind.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) already has the power to keep anything sexually stimulating out of the hands of minors.

Right now, the ordinance regarding harmful material states the following material can be deemed harmful to minors: “Any material that may be detrimental toward the healthy development of youth because of their capacity to be sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior.”

So this new revision is saying manga and games fiction that feature non-sexually stimulating depictions of anti-social illegal sexual acts and sexual acts involving close relatives* are to be restricted by Tokyo, but TV and movies and novels can devolve into those subjects without governmental oversight.

If this bill passes, it would appear that suffers of child abuse must avoid manga and anime if they want to tell their stories, especially if they don’t adhere to the party line about social morality as espoused by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

That is just one example of the tremendous hypocrisy that I believe this bill contains, and I am certain others can point to major shortcomings to this revision.

My purpose of this blog entry is to translate the most offending part of this revision bill.

Good night, and good luck. I mean it.

* To note, the following marriages are forbidden under Japanese law.
1) Marrying to one’s self or anyone of the same sex. [Corrected on 2010/11/24.]
2) Marrying an immediate blood relative. (Children and parent, grandchild and grandmother, etc.)
3) Marriage between a relative by affinity within the third degree. (Siblings, uncle and nephew, etc.)
4) Marriage between two relatives formed by marriage in a parental relationship. (A husband and his wife’s mother or his mother-in-law.) This holds true even after divorce or if the spouse has died.
5) Marriage between an adopted child or adopted child’s spouse with his or her adopting parents, their immediate siblings, their blood relatives, etc. (An adopted son’s divorced wife and the father of one of the adopting parents, etc.) This holds true even after divorce or if the adoption is nullified.

** For more additional analysis of the text of the revision, I highly recommend the following two news articles.

http://internet.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/20101122_408878.html
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/kanto/tokyo/101122/tky1011222243015-n1.htm

Addendum: This entry was updated on Dec. 4th, 2010.
Previously I had translated the word 誇張 as emphasize, but I have decided to revise this translation to the word exaggerate. When I first translated the word, I felt that exaggerate was too broad, but as I’ve read more and more of the writing regarding Bill 156,

This entry was posted in bureaucracy, censorship, news, nonexistent youth, public morality and media. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Anime and Manga More Harmful Than TV and Films According to Tokyo

  1. Leonardo Boiko says:

    > 1) Marrying to one’s self.

    Does that imply that depictions of masturbation are now restricted?

    • dankanemitsu says:

      I looked at the wording of the bill’s text very carefully, and it appears that it specifies “…sex acts … between close relative where their marriage would not be lawful…” so it is plural. That’s a very good point, though. I had to really think about it for a while. Thanks again!

  2. Josh Taylor says:

    This bill clearly tells the seiyus, mangakas, and the rest of the anime, manga, and gaming industries to find a new occupation and get out.

    To put it in another way, it’s going cause a riot.

    • dankanemitsu says:

      I don’t think it will cause mass layoffs, at least at first. What it will probably cause is hardship among creators and publishers of shojo, boys love and cheesecake (softcore) men’s stuff. The cheesecake men’s stuff people are pretty used to being subject to governmental intervention, so they will more likely adapt. But the women’s material has never been under such a microscope, so big changes could be in store.
      Of course, it would be nice if we can all avoid this from happening.
      So many people aren’t rioting yet, but they are very scared, because what it will do to women’s fiction is not at all clear.

  3. Mika-chan says:

    Dan we need to stop these idiots before they completely messed up everything. Hope the mangakas loud their voices more that before and stop this crap, for the feedom of speech and for the sake of comics and animations. >_<

    • dankanemitsu says:

      I don’t call the people that are calling for these type of restrictions “idiots”. They have good intentions, but you know about the road that paved with good intentions, so I won’t go there.
      Authors and publishers and fans are starting to make their voices heard, but it would be nice if more attention over this issue could be coming from overseas. I think many people would realize that protecting children is a good thing, but having the government do that for you, and treating all minor the same might not be a very good idea. The part about the Government deciding what types of depictions are “unjustifiable glorifications” is also something scary.
      And most importantly, issues like these need to be debated more. The stealth tactics that the proponents are using is very undemocratic, in my opinion.

      • Matthew says:

        Dan, I don’t know if you realise, but there is a wave of “let’s protect the children” nonsense sweeping the planet at the moment. Look at what has happened in UK with the so called “Dangerous Cartoons Act” as well as Part 5, Section 63 of Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (see http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/ ) and similar legislation being proposed and looked at in Australia in terms of restricting or banning material created for and available only to adults. It’s all in the name of saving children of course!

        You’ll have to excuse my cynicism Dan. We’ve been through this before. I don’t think the issues really need to be debated, mainly because there is no issue to debate. Society is not adversely effected by anything in the media or popular culture and even less so in subcultures. Using the discredited Media Effects Model like many of the self-appointed moral crusaders use is really dishonest and really condescending to the population as a whole. It’s all about trying make people think the same way (and unsurprisingly nearly 100% of the time sexuality is involved) and shaming people for their sexual choices, or even (gasp!) jsut thinking about sex.

        • dankanemitsu says:

          Yes, I do believe “child protection” is a very powerful theme right now. It has been for some time, but that wasn’t always the case. Offending religious morals was a powerful theme before and criminality of abnormal behavior (i.e. non-conformist) was another powerful theme that was often touted.

          Children need protection based on age and maturity, and parents are best left in charge of deciding what is appropriate for their child. Furthermore, while granting tools to help aid parents in making decision is a good idea, the government should not be given a blank check to decide what is good for minors simply because parents are too busy or don’t want to take up uncomfortable topics with their children.

          I’m not an expert but I do try to keep up with censorship issues regarding manga and anime overseas. US, UK, Autralia, Canada, France, and other nations have some laws that effectively say fiction must conform to legal standards of realiity when it comes to the issue of sex, but violence or other vices.

          Many proponents of regulation in Japan often tout how laws have been established in other nations as reason why laws should enacted in Japan regarding fictional depiction of sex. If you are an English speaker and can do research on the Internet, you quickly realize the issue is not clear-cut overseas. There are different standards and the rationale varies from nation to nation. Two things that often get neglected is the disparity of crime rates between Japan and other nations, and how other nations’ comic book, animation, and game creative community is not as diverse as in the case of Japan.

          So to be blunt, even if laws are passed regarding anime and manga in other nations, it doesn’t approach the impact it would in Japan, where over 60% of the books sold are manga or related to manga.

          The best comparison to make between manga in Japan and creative fiction in other nations is novels. Would UK, US, and / or Canadians accept the same degree of censorship if it involved novels?

          These are the questions that need to be asked more, in my opinion.

  4. Surrealism says:

    Mr. Kanemitsu, what did you mean by “Good luck. I mean it.”?

    In addition, are the chances of this bill passing still so-so as similar to what happened with March’s Assembly?

    Even if this one did pass, I’ve heard of artists being able to get around restrictions in general. But this seems like an even tighter bind to the art/fiction-laws that already exist. And lastly, are a good number among the anime/manga/gamng industry, artists and writers already aware of this revised bill?

    It seems more extreme than the last one. And I’m sort of surprised this didn’t cause any bigger debates such as the ones from a few months ago.

    • dankanemitsu says:

      Hello. “Good night, and good luck.” is a phrase Edward R. Murrow used for his broadcasts. He is a very important figure in journalism. I recommend you do a search on the expression on the Internet. You might be surprised to see what you uncover.

      I added “I mean it.” because I fear that if this bill passes, it poses very grave dangers to both the democratic process and people’s right to self-expression and ensuring a wide diversity in the marketplace of ideas. I hope things work out well, and I really do mean it.

      The chances of this bill passing is uncomfortably good. It is not a “sure slam-dunk”, like some people claim, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has gone through some extraordinary lengths to insure its success. I will try to find more time to talk about that later.

      If this bill passes, those that want to deal with serious subjects involving minors and sex will have a lot more difficult time. They must second guess what the regulators at Tokyo will say about their creations. And it won’t stop with just depictions of minors and sex. Any sexual acts that would be illegal under current Japanese law involving any age group is subject to administrative oversight. Actually it doesn’t even stop there, since they talk about “rape and other sexual acts considered to be excessively disrupting of social order”. This implies acts that are not illegal could be covered as well.

      Very vague, very subjective and difficult to isolate.

      So if you are already doing adult only material, it might be a problem. If you are doing stories that feature only “wholesome” sexual relationships, it might be OK. But replicating some works of literature and doing soap operas in the realm of manga and anime has suddenly become more dangerous.

      People always adapt, but I’m not sure I want to see how Japanese manga and anime adapt to a world as defined by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

      Regarding how a bill like this came out of nowhere, please read my earlier post.
      http://dankanemitsu.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/sneak-attack-of-the-nonexistent-youth-bill/

      • Surrealism says:

        Thank you for the response.

        Actually, one error. I’m not an artist, Mr. Kanemitsu.

        Just an average person reading what he happens to discover with news, updates and ect involving media.

        Another question, if you may. If the Bill does pass, would this double the censoring and toning down of fanservice in anime by producers and animators?

        I myself am no huge fan of fanservice, but it does make me think. Say for example, an extremely “fanseric-y” filled show like Kanokon. I’ve never seen it, but I’ve seen blogs on it. Would this mean toning down fanservice content to minimum if not, to none?

        I recall “Hayate no Gotoku’s” (original work by Kenjiro Hata) first anime adaptation stripped away over 95% of the fanservice, due to it being aired in a Saturday morning block in Japan.

        Would this be the case for a lot of other shows if producers want it to stick around? Would it result to massive edits/changes to a show or just move it to a much later evening slot?

        Would this count the same for a lot of manga artists if they want to keep being in business?

  5. This sucks. I don’t want most of my favorite anime and manga to go away.

    • dankanemitsu says:

      The anime you see right now might not go away, but if this bill goes through, there is a distinct possibility that more anime and manga will be less edgy and unwilling to take up serious subjects.

      Women’s fiction will probably be influenced the most, and that’s too bad. Japan’s women’s fiction is one of most vibrant, innovative, and diverse realms of self-expression for women in the entire world.

      It’s also too bad too many Japanese people keep hearing stuff from overseas such as “Japanese anime is great, but if they would only tone down the violence/sex/stereotypes/etc.” That then gets regurgitated in Japan and provided ammunition for the proponents of regulation.

  6. Marcus says:

    So basically, some of my favorite manga and anime are gonna stop taking up the dark, serious and moving things that makes it good, if this bill is pushed through?

  7. thug4lyfe says:

    I agree with him.

  8. Wazzuphomeez says:

    Hetalia

  9. Dan Rush says:

    I not only support the Japanese government, I’d support my own government if they declared an all out ban against sexualized manga and anime period. Anime has become a bucket of foul pedophilic/homosexualized trash unfit for any eyes.

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