Opposition Grows as Fate of Nonexistent Youth Bill Looks Bleak

In addition to readers, authors, publishers, and other industry groups, on May 31st the Writers Guild of Japan has joined in the opposition to the current draft of the Youth Healthy Development Bill that would creates the category of “nonexistent youth” over any character that resembles minors (under 18) and restricts any sexualized situations involving them. The Writers Guild of Japan is the largest screenwriters group in Japan and significantly expands the scope of the opposition to the “nonexistent youth bill.”

On June 1st, Gin Tama, the serial manga that runs in Shonen Jump, featured a character yell out “I object to the Ooedo Youth Healthy Development Ordinance Revision Bill!” where Edo is the name of Tokyo prior to the Meiji Restoration. (Ooedo is “Greater Edo.”) I went to my local convenience store and bought a copy, and sure enough, its there. See also here. In Episode 300, there is a slight divergence as the petition against he bill is mentioned prior to the lines I translated above, but then it goes on– “One should regulate their own heart before attempting to regulate free speech!! There were lolicon far back in the past before there was manga, the Internet, anime!! What’s important is to have the heart to face those desires and control them instead of trying to put a lid on them!! Now let me just state that I’m not a lolicon, but instead a feminist.”

This goes on even more when the characters reminisce about how Shinsuke was devoted to overthrowing the Shogunate, but the moment is give a comedic twist as a stand-in is instead says, “Destruction is my purpose… Destruction of the Ooedo Youth Healthy Development Ordinance Revision Bill…”

Now many English speakers might think such protest speech would be expected from authors, but that is not the case in Japan. As author become more and more popular, there is a tendency for the author to avoid controversial subjects, as there is the fear that one’s personal opinions regarding politics and social issues might bring on trouble that would negatively impact those that are involved in the popular title. In other words, as the boat grows bigger, the Captain of the boat gets more and more worried about what he says out of fear that it might hurt people that are riding on the boat.

The fact that the number one weekly manga publication in Japan featured such a strong voice of protest reveals just how unpopular this bill has become.

Another facet of protest over the bill has arisen from non-manga mainstream publications. The Japan Magazine Publishers Association has prepared an industry wide protest opinion piece against the bill, where both manga/anime as well as mainstream news publication such as Shukan Post, Asahi Geinoh, Friday, and Flash are printing this page. The scope of the protest has broaden exponentially to say the least.

Regarding the bill itself, there is some confusion regarding what will become of it. The cases of the bill passing in its current form seems to have become all but nonexistent, based on numerous reports such as here and here.
Kyodo reports that the Governor Ishihara will withdraw the bill and revise it before attempting to submit to debate in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, but NHK reports Ishihara stating that he wants the Democratic Party of Japan and the opposition to outright defeat the bill before he will direct the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to draft a new bill. Governor Ishihara still seems to be confused over the function of the bill as he states that if the DPJ and others defeats the bill, then he’ll put their feet to the fire and question them in the Tokyo Metro. Assembly meeting why they would oppose a bill that would prevent minors from reading material where children as young as 7 or 8 are involved in sexual situations. In fact, the Tokyo Metro. Government already has the power to regulate such material(see section 2 of “What are the specific provisions in the bill?”), since the existing definitions of harmful books already includes the clause “material that compels criminal activity,” and sex with anyone under 13 is statuatory rape in Japan.

That’s all I’ve found out in the last few days. While we’re a not out of the woods yet, things do look a bit more promising. And even if the bill is defeated or withdrawn, I fully expect another attempt similar to this to come up in the future, early as autumn.

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1 Response to Opposition Grows as Fate of Nonexistent Youth Bill Looks Bleak

  1. It’s honestly extremely heartening to see the Japanese artists and publishers standing up like this. I had worried that the social pressures of Japan might win out over the idea of free speech and kept the complaints to a fairly small community of less circulated authors.

    Had Japan sat back and let this bill go through, I think the ramifications could have reached America as far as confidence in trying to prosecute Americans who purchase loli materials under the PROTECT Act. Them fighting the bill on the grounds of free speech should do a lot to bolster arguments in favor of protecting an artist’s ability to draw anything he or she likes.

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