Bill 156 Locked to Go – Prime Minister Expresses Concern as Final Vote comes on Wednesday

Bill 156 has passed through the general affairs committee with supplemental resolution attached. Approval by the full assembly is expected on Wednesday. (Yomiuri report / 47 News report)

Tokyo already has the power to designate anything that is too sexually stimulating for minors OR too sadistic for minors OR too likely to cause criminal acts among minors OR cause suicide among minors as “harmful material”, and force such material to be treated as adult only material.

Bill 156, essentially stipulates all sexual acts that would be illegal in real life OR sexual depictions between close relatives who could not legally get married to be treated as adult material if they are presented in “unjustifiably glorified or exaggerated manner.”

To see complete details of the bill, go here.

Japanese politicians usually vote along parties lines, especially if the leadership has decided its policy regarding the legislative agenda, as it is in the case here. You can expect the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and the New Komeito Party (NKP) to vote affirmative on the revision. Seikatsusha Network Mirai and the Japanese Communist Party will vote against the measure. As you can see in the math that I provided here, the LDP & NKP + DPJ is almost 90% of the legislator, so it will most likely pass right through.

The proponents of the regulating more anime and manga and video games may have won, but I have no doubt this was an extremely costly victory that damaged them considerably.

As I have written previously, traditionally there is a close relationship between the governmental regulators and the business community in Japan. This is especially the case in industries where the rules and guidelines are rather Byzantine and there is a lot of room for interpretation. Regulators don’t want to look spineless in front of the electorate, but neither do they want to be so confrontational that they have to use court orders all the time to maintain a standard or an agenda. The business community also understands that that cooperative relationship can pay dividends in the form of avoiding nasty surprises and having the regulators being willing to be flexible in their enforcement. At times, this shady regulatory scheme is fertile ground for corruption and fraud, as in the case of numerous construction firms involved in public contracts.

But it worked pretty well for the publishing industry until now.

Now Tokyo has lost the trust of the publishing industry, and this will be a huge blow to them. Not only because their effectiveness in dealing with the publishing industry might go down, but because, in the eyes of the manga and anime community, many feel the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has lost its legitimacy as a fair regulator.

Public perception of the revision is harder to gauge, but this issue will not go away, as I will discuss later on in this post, so this expansion may come back to haunt Tokyo later on.

Before I end post, there are two important developments I would like to note.

First of all, the bill did have a supplemental resolution (a rider) attached to it that specifies that, with regard to the material that would be classified as harmful based on the new expanded definition, these works must be “carefully regulated, with the work’s artistic, social, educational, satirical criticism based merits be taken into account in the evaluation process.”

Furthermore, Tokyo Youth Healthy Development Evaluation Panel (the panel subordinate to the TMG that deliberates and chooses which books are to be designated as being harmful) is instructed to respect “the intent of the revision and take necessary steps, such as increasing the time involved in the evaluation process.”

Information via Mangaronsoh (1) (2)

It is clear that the protests and strong reaction to the bill did have an impact, enough that even the strong proponents of the bill, the LDP and NKP, were forced to accept the supplemental resolution suggested by the DPJ.

Secondly, it appears the publishing industry will continue to fight this revision and the mentality behind it for quite some time, so the heat will probably increase in the coming weeks and months.

This is Kadokawa’s president Mr. Inoue’s message following the news of the bill’s passage in committee:
“So [Bill 156] was approved. That’s unfortunate. But we should continue our opposition. We must continue to raise our voices. With [the help of] wisdom and courage, let’s stick it out.”

Furthermore, 47 News reports how Mr. Shimizu, CEO of Kodansha and current chair of the Big 10 Manga Publishers Association expresses how their members are furious over how a bill that was previously defeated could be resuscitated and brought up to a vote so rapidly.

Even more striking is the statement conveyed via newspiece on Jiji. At Shueisha’s rookie manga author awards ceremony, Shueisha senior managing director Mr. Torishima was quoted saying, “I want new manga authors to produce manga that would blow away [Tokyo Governor] Shintaro Ishihara.” A senior editor at Shueisha, Mr. Araki asks that manga authors “don’t let the chilling effect [of increased regulation] stop you from doing material you want to do. Jump will feature anything [we feel] is exciting [to read]”.

It’s clear the Big 10 have no intent to back down following their announcement to pull out of the Tokyo International Animation Fair, and event sponsored in part by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

With the Big 10 being made up of Shueisha, Shogakukan, Kadokawa Shoten, Kodansha, Akita Shoten, Hakusensha, Shonen Gahousha, Shinchosha, Futabasha, and LEED Publishing Co., Ltd., all huge industry giants, their lack of presence in the Tokyo International Animation Fair is starting to worry the Prime Minister of Japan.

In his first personal blog entry since becoming prime minister, Naoto Kan states:
“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.”

According to what is stated on Naoto Kan’s blog, this is the first time he is writing an entry himself on a subject that concerns him. Every other entry is written by his staff. The blog entry also talks about discussions he had with rice farmers in Yamaga Prefecture, but he ends his first personally written post on worrying about if next year’s Tokyo International Animation Fair takes place.

Now the Prime Minister is personally expressing his concerns over what’s happening.

This is not a the end. This is the beginning.
Of what, I don’t know.

PS: I’ve gotten a lot of emails and comments from people overseas regarding how they could get their voices heard. I was lucky enough to relay some of those voices last Sunday, but if you want to get the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to hear your opinions, you might want to visit their website and find their contact information. They should have it printed there in English.

But please be polite and considerate. Verbally assaulting them and/or being rude (via regular snail mail or email) won’t make us look any better in their eyes.

I recommend writing to them, because they may have a hard time reading English, but the simple fact they are getting a lot of international mail over something is something they can understand pretty easily.

Also, I don’t mind getting comments as well! I try to approve and reply to as many as I can. I’m sorry for being rather tardy these few days, but I’ve got a lot of writing and translating to do!

PPS: Takeshi Nogami was featured in a Mainichi news article with regards to opposition to Bill 156. You can read it here. I work with him in translating his Strike Witches doujinshis and Azure Century Chronicles doujinshi series.

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

34 Responses to Bill 156 Locked to Go – Prime Minister Expresses Concern as Final Vote comes on Wednesday

  1. Surrealism says:

    I go to a lot of anime/manga forums.

    Many of them (some having only heard the news just today or even the existence of this Bill) bursted in heated panic and debate, threads full of “anime is over” paranoia and what not. I agree the wording of this Bill is vague but I dont think its an “anime apocalypse”. Not like 80% of the shows (that aren’t scoped as hentai/18+ only) have softcore, rape or incest intercourse broadcasted. (though I feel material like Yosuga no Sora and School Days’ anime, both adaptations containing a lot of sex/rape scenes, will be prime targets)

    But I agree it’ll be harder for yaoi/yuri manga-ka and others who try putting “edgy sexual” content in their manga that would be classified as “18 and up”.

    Yeah, it’s dissapointing that this Bill passed. But it seems the anime industry isn’t just going to give up without a fight (if legal issues do come in after it takes full effect in July 2011). And people are going to keep raising their voices.

  2. Nanta555 says:

    Thank you for your Hard work, Mr Dan.
    I am very grateful that I’ve got this news.

    I have to agree with the prime minister.
    The anime might be considered “Unhealthy” and need regulations, But the Cancellation of Tokyo Anime Fair would be an enormous Impact on both Global Image and Economy.

    It would be nice if a foriegner can raise voice about it too.

  3. KonataIzumi says:

    thank you very much.
    i hope this will be just the beginning

    in case of the tokyo governament mais is;
    i’m supossed to be writing to them right now

    thank you very much

  4. Surrealism says:

    In addition Dan, do you know of Neil Gaman of the Comic Book Legal defense Fund (CBLDF)? He helps w/ free speech cases in comics but also helped the otaku case, mostly w/ Christopher Handley’s case in 2008-2009 in the US. Perhaps you being able to talk to him involving this issue is a start?

    And I also agree Mr. Kanemitsu, I’m glad to see people raising their thoughts and the PM giving his comments.

  5. The Japanese government always upsets me with the gaffs they consistently make but nothing has infuriated me so much like Bill 156. This is an attack on freedom of speech and the otaku culture. With a nation that is still suffering a great economic malaise, preventing the anime, manga, and game industry from doing what they do is only going to worsen matters.

    Ishihara is the devil and that’s the truth.

  6. Erica says:

    Dan, thanks so much for a much more coherent look at this Bill than I can ever hope to present. I’ve added a link to this post on my reaction post.

  7. August says:

    I wonder if I should be concerned about run-of-the-mill type shonen series that typically feature destruction of public/private property, bullies beating up hero and hero beating up bullies, and healthy teens furtively buying smut rags as examples of objectionable offenses? This doesn’t even frame the typical shojo series that usually dwell on more esoteric themes. It seems absurd to regulate unless they’re hoping for the affected industries to bow out and quietly comply. In a sense this seems like having your friend’s father always looking over your shoulder–he’s enough of a stranger that it feels more offensive than it does awkward, but he’s not afraid to confiscate things from you he feels are inappropriate despite knowing nothing about you.

    Thank you for keeping us up to date. I know of several sites that have discussion topics on this subject who have been reliant on your efforts.

  8. Rika-chan says:

    Thanks so much. I will write to tgm, prolly will be useless as foreigner, but is something i have to do from the deep of my heart.

    Mangakas should continue to draw the manga they want, how they want and where they want without these stupid restrictions, they shouldn’t be afraid by this attack of the freedom of speech but continue to fight hard.

    Keep the hard work Dan.

  9. Matthew says:

    I feel so sorry for Japan for electing such disgraceful politicians.

  10. Big Daddy DC says:

    Couple of questions. But would this law apply to Online Distribution as well? Say a Manga that has sexual content was pulled from the magazine and then placed online for viewing by the publisher. Would that be exempt?

    Also, seeing as how this applies only to titles that are are not “marked for adults”, couldn’t a publisher instead label their manga title to “Adult Only”? How would that effect the sales of that specific manga?

  11. çekmeköy says:

    Dan, thanks so much for a much more coherent look at this Bill than I can ever hope to present. I’ve added a link to this post on my reaction post.

  12. Liam Zwitser says:

    The PM is of the DPJ — can’t he force his party to vote against wednesday?

    “Also, seeing as how this applies only to titles that are are not “marked for adults”, couldn’t a publisher instead label their manga title to “Adult Only”? How would that effect the sales of that specific manga?”

    If the Tokyo government would start designating 90% of the shows as harmfull (which I find unlikely since the current regulation is actually already much broader then what they are introducing now), then everybody would just throw an 18+ logo on front of their work and it’s value would be decreased to 0.

    • Webbmaster62 says:

      You just answered your question right there. ^^ This would affect the sales greatly of anything they were doing before. There would be no point in even slapping a 18+sticker on the stuff. They would have to just cancel the manga/anime. In the bill itself, it saids no more school uniforms, no school area, violent acts of fighting, etc… You know how many manga/anime is full of that? To Love Ru Darkness just got started again and now it’s gonna be canned? I doubt he’ll move it to 18+bins. Alot of the stores in Japan don’t even have an 18+ area unless they sell adult material in that shop. As Dan said, this is just the beginning if it goes through. This law is not gonna last long. Also I doubt now alot of publishers are gonna abided by it thanks to Mr. Shimizu’s statement today. Seriously, taking school plots outta manga/anime? That’s 90% of the industry right there. XD

      • ot4ku says:

        So there is hope this LAW will be canceld or going away (sorry my english)? please tell me if this is possible, im so frustrated at the moment, you would really give me hope again if this is true.

    • Reader says:

      “…then everybody would just throw an 18+ logo on front of their work and it’s value would be decreased to 0.”

      Its value would be decreased to 0 only if no *adults* want to buy it. A publisher claiming that its business would be destroyed if it can’t market its mature-themes manga at kids under 18 is telling a big “Fuck You” to us adult readers.

  13. drmchsr0 says:

    Well, you did do your best. It couldn’t be helped that the opposition was using despicable tactics to get this bill passed.

    I would like to say one thing here. The Bill will NOT be passed.

  14. xenocross says:

    the 11th episode of Ore no Imouto clearly violate this new law, when there is scene of protagonist playing eroge and having ero-magazine collection. But that’s normal for japanese highschool teenager, right? Would you censor such realism?

    I wonder about the future of anime and manga. Many have touch the theme of violence, sex, abuse, crime, etc. Heck, manga Death Note clearly glorify murders in the name of justice. Will they ban that or throw it into adult only section?

  15. Nanta555 says:

    The best way for us is to raise our voice by sending e-mails though I doubt they will reply, They will notice the foriegners are opposing just as much as the publishers.

    However, like Mr Dan said “be Polite and logical.” We are talking with a government.

  16. moe moe ~kyun~ says:

    1st of all, thanks Mr. Dan for all the hard work

    Second…. I don’t know what to say. A lot of people go to panic and say whatever they want —> now I’m panic as well, even though I trust you in your brief explanation over this shit. I’m a hardcore otaku, with more than 90% of my 2TB HDD full of hentai in most kind and ecchi —> this is a D-Day for me myself.

    However, like most people here and from ANN, this bill can NOT be passed. EVEN if it does get through, all they need to do is to bring it to even the surpreme court. This is ONLY the beginning, and Mr. Ishihara, well, as far as I know, makes himself MORE and MORE clearly that he IS a RACIST.

    Correct me if I wrong, but I don’t think all the publishers and all the opposing groups just sit there doing nothing. Cut off their favorite titles mean they’ll lose a BUNCH of money —> and they just blindly do that? Why don’t they, as well as we, just make it to the court —> The court has to RESPECT the law NO VIOLATE THE FREEDOM OF CREATIVITY, right? right? right?

    Shit… I’m really panic. In worse case, why don’t all of us just get the hell out of Tokyo. I know it’s extremely hard, but also, it WILL hit a fatal blow on Tokyo’s economy:
    1. Thousand of people will lose their jobs —> the problem bigger for Tokyo
    2. Million of people will lose a lot of money, since TAF or Comiket will go with us —> another bigger problem for Tokyo
    All of that happen, and that soon-to-retire old man just sit there and laugh? Well, if it DOES happen, we all move out of Tokyo, I would GLADLY see people hang that Ishihara on the tree —> ha ha ha…now I laugh —> and after all those shit, LOTS of people will gladly welcome us back WITHOUT stupid bill/law.
    If it DOES happen, I don’t think it’s gonna take long. Just a temporary retreat from Tokyo. Beside, don’t you think Tokyo become harder and harder to live/work recently? Perhap it’s time to go to another fresh city?

  17. SU says:

    I’m not sure what the future holds. I get all my manga from French publishers as I live in Belgium. Yaoi has been really popular in France for the past years. While Yuri hasn’t had the same level of popularity around here, a french publisher recently announced a new line of Yuri manga to start around March-April with the manga “Girl Friends” (I think it was that one). Seeing as they announced it not too long ago I’m now starting to wonder if they’ll ever really launch the line as getting material from Japan might get harder. Also will overseas publishers be forced to label these works as 18+ from now on if they do get them?

    I’m alos conserned about other media like DVD/Blu-Ray. I’ve recently preordered the first 2 volumes of Yosuga no Sora. Many features of the anime will surely be against what is written in teh bill, so I’m also wondering if I’ll get my hands on the later volumes as 18+ material doesn’t usually get exported outside of Japan by the mose commun websites as Amazon Japan and others.

    The most important thing I fear is that the bill will block any material that people overseas are even too ashamed to talk about or even consider talking about (such as such as Yaoi, Yuri, … you name it.) I respect the authors in Japan for writing about those subjects but now they’ll be forced to stop or adapt their works according to this new bill. It will surely have an impact of the overseas market too as I’ve alraedy seen many comments of French manga fans being conserned about there Yaoi. I’m sill waiting to see how they publishers in France are going to react or comment about the bill once it passes tomorrow.

  18. cement bambi says:

    Thanks Dan for your excellent work.

    So it doesn’t look good now for games, anime and manga. However, I’m not sure how this law will affect fine art and galleries? Any ideas?

    I’m encouraged to read that publishers are still determined to fight on. Whatever happens though, I’m sure that in the long term artists and publishers will adapt to the new law without much compromise. It is, after all, not ban. All power to the artists in Japan.

  19. ot4ku says:

    This is so cruel, i dont know what will happen to me, this is the end for me :( This feeling that i cant see Brother Sister relationships anymore like “Yosuga no Sora” Episode 11 is tearing me apart from the inside, this cant be true, please!

    Im Collection lolicon Mangas to, if next year Amazon japan removes allt he Loli mangas this will be mostly impossible to finish my collection :/ All i can hope is that mandarake still somehow let me order them, i feel so frustrated at the moment i cant even think normaly anymore… please someone help me!

    This feels like the End… is there no hope left? Would it be possible to Make the Bill canceld if another goverment comes to rule Japan in next Years? Would it be possible? Please if theres hope let me know, im so sad at the moment !_!

    • Robin says:

      You can still buy books glorifying older brothers raping their little sisters, you just have to wait until you’re an adult yourself to do so.

      Are you afraid that your parents will have made you move out of the home you share with them and with your little sister by that time?

      • dankanemitsu says:

        Bill 156 singled out manga and anime as being more dangerous than live-action film and novels. The content you mentioned can be sold as general audience material in cases of text and live-action film, but must be sold as adult material in the case of manga and anime. This is not absolute and there are exceptions to this ordinance, but many of us in Japan feel that it unfairly singles out a medium of expression available to all ages and genders.

  20. Nando says:

    If the Japanese government is anything like the US, no matter how much outrage is fostered by this, they will pass it anyway, knowing that the likelihood of being punished at the ballot box is low.

    What truly frightens me is the slippery slope this bill creates. It begins with these subjects that can easily fool some of the public into sounding noble, then how far does it go? Does it only stop when everything is nothing but brain-dead goop with no plot, no ambition, no anything?

    It’s nothing but outright censorship, and it’s disgusting. Some of the more questionable subjects covered by this may not be my thing, but there are people who do enjoy it, so what right do I have to say otherwise? Anime and manga are some of the most vibrant forms of media today, and they’re most effective when they take on more challenging and deep topics. With this in effect, I doubt you will see much of that anymore.

  21. With you, and BIG respect for DAN.
    Next to the east of Tokyo Prefacture, from Chiba, Japan.
    Bill 156 has just been passed. From Live at “TOKYO-MX TV”
    Until they are reported in the English language will still take considerable time.
    Mr.KANEMITU (DAN) yesterday met with someone in the office building of the Japanese Diet, and has written on Twitter.
    Bill 156 is being run from July of 2011, you’d also need to know whether the thing. (Continued)

  22. (This article is written using the Google translation’s help. Even when I read the written Mr.DAN, even when reading your comments, uses Google translation and dictionary.)

    As one Japanese-man, very frustrating, and very sad.

    My grandfather was Taiwan Citizen.
    But as I speak only Japanese, and be understand the beauty of the Japanese-language, be “a good Japanese people” with a conscience, discipline was strict parents.

    As a person who has taught Japanese to become the conscience and autonomy (especially ethical), Bill 156 passed on, we received quite a shock.
    Syukan-ASAHI (a Japanese weekly magazine) article from, National Police Agency of retirees employers, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and aims to strengthen the clout, and this is plotted to certain senior(Class I:国家公務員公安職I類) government officials Written.

    If this is a fact that if. No, I do not even want to imagine the situation is…

    Good night, our Motherland Nippon.
    Until dawn, I do not know what I will continue to stand in a meadow or a cave.

  23. Thank you very much for moderate comments. And I concerned about your health a little.-> Mr.Dan

    What you(Commenters) can do:

    DO NOT PANIC. And you are not driven by intense emotion. You should never give up.

    DVDs & Blu-rays and Manga, you continue buying in the future. that “paying the price”.
    Mr.Dan translation works you might buy. It goes without saying. A list of titles here. And if you feel you have something from the work. Distributor of each country through a translator, studio, original-author “paper-mail” write of appreciation or support.

    Learning Japanese, learn Japanese of face very strict. Learn the they rules, they cultures (ex: bureaucratic culture), and efforts should continue until the dawn to talk to them.

    Manga / Anime culture, increase people to understand. If you were talking about manga, and you are just talking on the net, it is very hard. Take the pride of our culture. Each word and continue talking. But NOT forced to. Absolutely.

    You write “paper-mail”. To artists, animators, and studios, and publishers. And the Tokyo gov. The battle continued in June just before, and some people are very very tired. Some people with depression seem to Tweet Leave. Please caring for their minds and bodies, restore your heart. It is better in Japanese, English can be. Add one descriptive words, or even your drawings accompanied. You maked Dojin-shi(FanZine) sent him/her? Great. I try to do too.

    Hideaki OE@Chiba(Close in Tokyo) over 20:30

  24. MegaGundamMan says:

    Great, this puts a serious dent of some of the Touhou doujins and Comikets. Does this mean that GAINAX have played their last song? is this the end of their GAR industry?
    Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is coming to an end.

    My motivation is dead now. Way to go Japan. I may never look at you the same way again.

    • Nando says:

      Panty and Stocking isn’t the only GAINAX this thing’s gonna kill. Remember a certain giant robot show that had a 14-year old girl with huge breasts running around in a bikini top, and then a giant nude scene in space with the questionable parts removed?

      And don’t even start me on the “fictionalized crimes” stuff….

  25. Annette says:

    Perhaps I will write to the TMG even though I’m a foreigner. They need to realize how bad this is making them look in the eyes of the rest of the world.

  26. DVD Game PC says:

    Interesting information very useful.

  27. Relgoshan says:

    So….series like “Kodomo no Jikan” will probably slip through this unscathed. While other titles like “Ore no Imouto” may need a revised adaptation (given the original novels stand exempt).

    Not sure how clearly this will impact very weird stories like “Nana to Kaoru”.

  28. I love manga says:

    Well…I don’t care about which kind of manga/anime series will be cancelled.Even if only one manga was affected it would be really sad…All those guys who write manga this period when they were kids they dreamt of becoming manga artists.This Ishihara is ruining it and he can’t understand that it doesn’t matter what is the content of the manga.WHATEVER it is he doesn’t have the righr to cancel it.I think we should all help to stop the law.The thing is that I don’t know which action would be effective…If I could do something useful I would do anything…

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