For Your Information – Articles on Bill 156

Tokyo bans sales of sexually explicit comics to minorsLA Times
“The ordinance also outlaws certain images, stirring a debate about freedom of expression.”

Bill 156 does not ban anything. It does not outlaw the creation of any specific type of subject matter. It attempts to restrict anime, manga, and video games some consider inappropriate for minors, and thereby impacts what subject matter can be debated in a general audience setting. Japan already has restrictions on minor’s access to sexually explicit material. Bill 156 goes beyond that.

Japanese manga publishers threaten to boycott festivalThe Telegraph
“The 10 largest publishers of comic books in Japan have vowed to boycott next year’s Tokyo International Anime Fair in protest at the city government passing a law that bans the sale of sexually explicit manga to minors.”

This article actually does a pretty good job, but it would be better if it would address the fact that selling “highly sexually stimulating material” is already restricted in Japan. Bill 156 inviting so much criticism from creators and publishers because it goes way beyond that and because they had so little input.

Tokyo cracks down on sexually explicit

“Under new regulations passed this month, Tokyo authorities are seeking to block the sale to anyone under 18 of comics or animated films that “improperly laud or exaggerate” incest, rape and other sexual activity that contravenes “social norms”.

The rules – which also seek to promote internet filtering for minors and crack down on child pornography – highlight efforts by politicians, parents and teachers’ groups to tame an industry known for its explicit exploration of sexual taboos. But critics say the capital’s attempt to tighten censorship could have a chilling effect on a comic and animation sector seen as one of Japan’s most successful cultural exports.”

Remarkably, the article is actually fairly balanced. I’ve read far worse articles come out of Japan. It’s too bad that they didn’t mention how Akisora actually has a decent plotline. (Added 2010-12-25)

Extreme sexual ‘anime’ face curbKyodo News
“A Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly panel Monday passed a controversial bill to toughen regulations on the sale of comics and animation containing depictions of “extreme” sexual acts.”
“Subject to curbs under the bill will be depictions of rapes and other penal offenses and those “unduly lauding or exaggerating” incestuous affairs”

Another example where Bill 156 is characterized as being an anti-pornography ordinance. This is really typical and misleading since the article does not mention anything about pre-existing regulations. (Added 2010-12-27)

Cool Japan chilled: Censorship rules JapanThe Comic Journal
“While restrictions on sexually stimulating and/or harmful depictions have long been in place in Japan, 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 decades’ old taboo-breaking novels and plays, and his more recent nationalist, racist and homophobic blather.”
“…Japan’s real youth are thin on the ground: The nation’s notoriously declining birth rate is among the lowest in developed economies, and jobs for those youth who actually do exist in the form of university graduates have grown scarce. What’s more, government officials are not doing much to help them.”

Very good article, but I helped out with writing it, so I am biased. But I recommend this article a lot because it helps describe the context within which Bill 156 appeared. Tokyo, and Japan overall, has some really serious social and demographic issues, and Bill 156 probably won’t do much to address those issues even within Tokyo. (Added 2010-12-27)

Tokyo introduces manga restrictionsBBC
“Tokyo has banned the sale and lease of anime films and manga comics depicting rape, incest and other sex crimes to under-18s.”
“A bill, introduced by the metropolitan assembly, calls on the industry to self regulate by toning down graphic comics and films on general release.”
“Manga comics, popular with both adults and children in Japan, deal with themes including high school romance and literary classics as well as sometimes hardcore and violent pornography.”

While the BBC manages to point out that manga is a near universal medium, they also fail to point out that there are numerous pre-existing safeguards already in place prior to Bill 156. (Added 2010-12-27)

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22 Responses to For Your Information – Articles on Bill 156

  1. ChocoSnipe says:

    The government is just being unfair, they should really inform the publishers,creators etc of what they were planning in the beginning, IMO the bill is a bit overboard, even if they(the Tokyo government) did not ban anything, but still restricting animes/mangas just because of little inappropriate content is a bit too much… of course people would get mad…

  2. Nobody says:

    The more I read of this bill, the more I wonder what the hell the politicians are trying to pull.

    The proponents, and certainly the English media, claim it prevents sexually explicit material from getting to minors. But they already had the ability to do that.

    And then there’s the wording of the bill itself. “unjustifiably glorify / exaggerate”. That could mean everything or nothing at all. If the committee applies the same standard to that as they currently do for “sexually stimulating”, almost nothing will get restricted.

    So yeah, what was the point? Are the politicians hoping that the publishers will overreact and stop publishing anything even remotely close to the new restrictions? Were they deluded into thinking they were doing something else? Was it all just for show?

    • Liam Zwitser says:

      Exactly, almost nothing will change.

      And it’s quite easy for the commitee to justify that since they have a majority of the council on their side (see the attached resolution passed by the DPJ). Probably just for show, yes. And wether that is smart or not… we will know in a few months. My guess is “no”. If you make a media industry angry, expect a difficult re-election campaign. What I would do right now is make a commercial manga of Ishihara’s own works about raped schoolgirls. That would even diminish his popularity amongst *proponents* of the bill. (and the bill only goes into effect *after* the elections.)

      And offcourse give a few million dollars freely to another candidate… in exchange for his word to pull the law.

      More harsh but cheaper option: have Ishihara-baka (eh… san, sorry) get a UCA: Unfortunate Car Accident.

  3. jadams says:

    Both of those articles state something along the lines of “bans images of fictional characters that appear to be underage and are engaging in sexual acts”.

    Where did they get that from?

  4. tungwene says:

    I am really sorry that this may be very off topic but I wanted to ask you for clarification and your opinion about what it means that a new season of Seikon no Qwaser was announced right on the heels of OYAPS. I ask because I have no idea what Seikon no Qwaser is classified in Japan. In the US the manga (only version available legally) is rated M/18 and is available through Amazon, and any mainstream bookstore that carries manga where it is shelved unsegregated from all-ages titles in clear shrink wrap. I also don’t think bookstores bother to check IDs when you buy manga so I don’t think store employees care if a minor buys an 18 manga. Often times a customer has already ripped off the shrink wrap and read it in the bookstore before it was sold. Things like that are all very common occurrences in the US.

    Again, I don’t know what Seikon no Qwaser is classified as in Japan but I’m going to take a stab and guess it’s not 18 so that would mean it is one of the titles targeted by OYAPS. Judging from the wording of the 2nd season announcement the anime was already in the planning before OYAPS and they were going to announce it in February but they decide to go ahead and announce it now a little early. So I guess what I want to know is what will happen to this show that I am 100% sure is not going to follow the new OYAPS regulation guideline and will come out after the April 1 “self-regulation” deadline and what it all means.

  5. Veselina says:

    This mean explicit manga will continue to be but not to be available for sales to minors? Or explicit manga will be stopped for a sale as a whole? I mean genres like yaoi (omg! I can’t even think about this to happen!), yuri, hentai, ecchi, gore.

  6. DarkMirage says:

    tungwene, your guess is right.

    In general, only actual pornography (i.e. manga depicting sex almost every page) is classified as 18+ in Japan. Since there is no other classification system, manga targeted at young adults are sold without age restrictions.

    18+ in Japan is a classification closer to AO than M-18 for video games in the US. It will be commercial suicide for non-pornographic titles to be classified as 18+.

    • Shance says:

      But if we are to consider the already strict restrictions noted out on “one of the comments in the previous post, I think Seikon no Qwaser does violate some parts of the law.

      Also, I don’t think there is discrimination for restrictions on materials, whether with or without age restrictions, since late night shows were already targeted.

      The law needs more revisions. Everything feels so rushed to the point where they wanted it to become law first before they even think of refining it.

      • tama says:

        And even when season 1 of SoQ violated the old law, it didn’t get punished at all you mean?

        It’s stupid to stamp everyone who is between 0-17 years old as a child. It doesn’t make sense to have regulations for titles being 15+ or 13+ or whatever.

        • Shance says:

          I think if we are to find a show that actually “got away with it”, it’s Yosuga no Sora. Because, while the government guys are busy trying to implement the bill into the current law that is it now, Yosuga no Sora is showing us the no-holds-barred opposite.

    • tungwene says:

      Thanks for answering my question about classification in Japan and Seikon no Qwaser’s current classification. I guess we will all have to wait see what the TMG’s response will be since it already looks like publisher’s are openly ignoring the self-regulation deadline.

    • anoner says:

      It’s actually like that in the US too — a strict 18+ should be synonymous with “adults-only” or porn, very clear cut definition; otherwise you’d have all these other works with themes disagreeable or offensive or deemed “unhealthy” to some group or another being effectively treated no differently than porn.

      All of the ratings, the MPAA for movies, ESRB for games and FCC TV ratings, publisher ratings for anime and manga are all self-ratings and none have any legal force whatsoever. (In addition, you also have “Unrated” versions of movies that are actually more explicit, uncut versions)
      For example:

      Businesses may choose to restrict access but that’s their own choice. Except for obscenity (which is a whole other can of worms) everything else falls under protected speech. There are a couple of ongoing cases (with preliminary injuction, forcing states to stop enforcement) but so far, all attempts to implement similar restrictions have failed when challenged in court:

      • anoner says:

        It’s also interesting to note in that case above among the tons of documentation:
        the final court decision doc cites some examples in the problematic nature of such laws:

        Consider, for example, the well-known drawings of sex acts in The Joy of Sex;

        ( )

        or the fantastical sex scene between Charlotte and Lord Griffin in Kentaro Miura’s manga, Berserk.

        The courts state that works with sexually explicit scenes–even if they solely intend to titillate– or when you have many explicit scenes but are an incidental part of the whole work is not enough to restrict (and criminalize access) and runs afoul of 1st Amendment rights.

        In the Amicus Brief:

        To find sufficient a mere requirement that the materials may arouse a minor implies that sexual excitement in minors is always unhealthy, shameful, or lascivious.

        (implying that teaching sexual arousal is bad to minors is itself a bad thing)

        This is particularly true of older teenagers, who may legally (and with acceptance of the community) view scenes with sexually explicit content in films rated R. For this reason, the requirement that materials have the purpose of “titillating” a minor is not legally adequate.

  7. alex says:

    “Seikon no Qwaser … So I guess what I want to know is what will happen to this show…”

    – it will just get an 18+ stamp and that’s all ? I guess

  8. Duv says:

    At this point, the bigger question is… what happens now? I sincerely think that the industry that is centred in Tokyo will not take this lying down. But it really the next few moves that count here.

    Given that the law itself is vague in language, it’s rather likely that something within the law itself is broken. This has all the hall marks of rushed policy making, so I would not be shock to come to learn that the Bill 156 itself is illegal. But do the publishers see that, mad as they are?

    For all the talk I see about how good this is, how the sudden flow of loli, BL, etc. work will stop, I have the impression that that kind of thinking is horribly naive. I doubt that it will stop the flux in in entirety, or, worst, if it does… it might pull an entire industry underground, which would make this regulation foolish.

    Still, really… what happens now? That is the important question at this point.

  9. Simon Brady says:

    Dan, thanks for all your work collating and translating info on the bill: as that LA Times article shows (grrr), misinformation is almost as big a threat as the Ishiharatachi of the world.

    I’ve started a Wikipedia article on the Ordinance in the hope that it can grow into a convenient “come back after you’ve read this” reference. The article quotes some of your translations (referenced back to this blog as their source) – I hope you don’t object to their use.

  10. Nando says:

    Oops, I posted the comment on the wrong blog.

    Now that a couple days have passed, what is the general situation right now?

  11. Silver_PON says:

    It is natural that We don’t give porn manga to the child.
    But if they are 17yo or 18yo ,it is mistake to keep away then from porn manga.

  12. Silver_PON says:

    Tokyo gov disregards caring of the child of the victim of the violence and makes efforts to the destroy of the manga.
    This is abnormal.

  13. ~xxx says:

    well, it’s always a good way to limit the materials away from minors…

    But, at 18+ people, I think they already know the difference between right and wrong.
    thus, the bill must be stopped

  14. Sarah Tapp says:

    I’m just curious as to the actual thinking behind this decision. I don’t believe it is a bad thing to censure what children have access to, but I believe it is the child’s family’s obligation to do so, not the government’s. Also, it doesn’t make much sense to me to enforce this law when the age of consent in Japan is 13, not 18, unless that has changed without my hearing about it. One more problem with this decision is that the entire world is having an economic crisis, and you decide to put a stranglehold on one of the country’s most profitable venues? What is up with that? While sales are higher in Japan, this is a product that is distributed around the world. There is a huge market for it. Why do something to cripple your economy further? This especially doesn’t make sense when any child can go on the internet or turn on the tv to find access to any of the things that were mentioned in the law.

While I may not be able to respond to all comments, I always welcome feedback. Thank you.

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