Bill 156 – The Nonexistent Crimes Bill (Fujimoto’s Analysis Translated)

Yukari Fujimoto, Associate Professor at Meiji University, published a simple and concise piece describing the current bill’s problems on her SNS blog. I got her permission to translate and reprint the the entry below. The text in [] are my notes.

As far as I know, Professor Fujimoto is the first one to coin the expression “Nonexistent (sex) crimes bill” and I must say I think it is wonderful summarization of the the problems invovled in this bill.

“Nonexistent Youth” Regulation is now “Nonexistent Crime” Regulation

A new bill to revise the Tokyo Youth Healthy Development Ordinance has come up now and numerous organization have started issuing voices of opposition to the bill.

The Japan PEN Club
The Tokyo Bar Association
Publisher’s Ethics Conference

The contents of the bill itself has been examined below.

Attorney Yamaguchi has pointed out specific problems of the bill in the link below.

Furthermore, how the Democratic Party of Japan is currently wavering on deciding what to do with the bill has been described in the following blog. (I must warn you, it is a long read.)

Now to the question of how I feel this current revision effort should be considered, I believe the current draft has basically focused itself on the expansion of the range of books that can be designated as being harmful publications, and in that respect it is better than the last revision bill where there was a clause included that made it a duty for the citizens of Tokyo to mutually scrutinize harmful material on a voluntary basis, which would have led to a wide spread witch hunt for nefarious books.

However, the former limitations regarding the character’s age of being 17 and below has been removed, and now any depictions that involve sexual activity which are contrary to criminal codes and stipulations [刑罰法規] or sexual activity between close relatives that cannot marry are all subject to regulation, regardless of the age of the characters depicted, so the range of material that is subject has been undeniably expanded.

In other words, while the last revision bill was concerned with regulating “nonexistent youth,” this time the bill is unique in targeting “nonexistent sex crimes”. So the logic is that any illegal sex acts that would be subject to penalty should be regulated even when they are only drawn on paper, and frankly that does seem to fit the bill of what kind of ideas law enforcement types might come up with, isn’t it?

The sexual acts that are specified in criminal codes and other regulations include rape, indecent assault, prostitution, public indecency (such as having sex outdoors) and such, but also includes ordinances that govern the sexual activities of minors (i.e. sex between a minor and an adult), so the former criteria of sexual activities of nonexistent youth is still part of what would be considered subject to regulation. (However, under Tokyo’s ordinances, sexual activities between minors are not subject to penalties, so I really would like them to be more specific regarding just what exactly falls within the category of sexual activity which are contrary to criminal codes and stipulations.)

However, the designation of harmful books must go through the [Tokyo Youth Healthy Development] Evaluation Panel, the Evaluation Panel’s judgement of what depictions would be considered as “unjustifiably glorified or exaggerated” will could enable a certain degree of limitation on the effectiveness of this regulation in how the designation is actually conducted. (But I do believe a chilling effect would still take place.)

Another very important thing is that if this revision bill passes, the impact will be particularly concentrated on the BL [Boy’s Love theme stories by and for women] genres. I am quite certain that many of you already know this, but rape and incest are common themes within BL material.

(Now I do not believe that this revision bill was aimed specifically to target BL, and I don’t think the drafters of the bill even had that in mind, but how women, who are considered to be often victims of rape and incestuous relationships, often themselves adopt these themes in their works reveals the complexities and power involved in speech [in the form of narratives and creative fiction].

In other words, speech is not always about the representations of objects of desire that exist in reality, nor about compelling parties to realize their desires in reality, but [the ability to engage in narrative speech] also provides to individuals who have the potential to be caught in such [abusive relations] with a means of not only simulating and learning how to control such situations, but also helping to heal wounds that were inflicted as a result of such situations.)

Most importantly, this revision bill embodies the extremely dangerous philosophy of regulating even representations of illegal activity. While the current revision bill limits regulation to depictions of “nonexistent sex crimes”, what guarantee is there that this will stop with simply sex crimes. At first glance, the logic of “What’s wrong with regulating acts of criminal activities when they are depicted in a positive light?” does not sound very controversial, but then it would be only natural for this line of thought to lead to calling for the regulation of all depictions of criminal activity. In that case, the regulation of works that features “unjustifiable glorification and / or exaggeration of criminal activity” would lead to the One Piece and Lupin the Third being subject to restriction. I believe the most important thing to keep in mind with regarding to the current revision attempt is how can such trends be prevented from taking hold.

One more important factor is that the regulations described above are only directed toward manga, anime and video games, and I really question why bill specifically states “live photography and filming are exempt”. So anyone doing any type of illegal sexual acts can get away scot-free as long as it involves live-action [using living actors]? What is going on here?

Addendum: This entry was updated on Dec.8th, 2010.
The sections reading “18 and below” should have been “17 and below”. This has been corrected.

This entry was posted in censorship, harmful material, nonexistent youth, public morality and media, translation and intercultural issues. Bookmark the permalink.

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