Last time I talked about the current revision being considered by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. As of yet, the LDP has yet to release the details of contents of the bill that would revise the bill, but since LDP’s Takaichi is the head of the body that coordinates policy within the party, the draft she shared with Yamada that I talked about yesterday will more than likely be the bill that will be introduced in a matter of days.
The current session of the Diet will only last until mid June, so any deliberations regarding this bill will be very short. So short, in fact, I will go out in a limb and say they are doing this purposely so people will not have a chance to voice their opposition to their locally elected officials. This has been done before. When Bill 156 was passed in December of 2010 in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, the final bill was kept in wraps for weeks and only a few days were available to actually examine the final wording. This type of ramming through legislation has taken place on the national level recently as well. In June of 2012, a revision of the Japanese copyright law was hardly deliberated at all before it was passed.
As of now, the ruling LDP and its coalition partner, the New Komeito Party has a supermajority in the lower house of the Diet, but they do not have a majority in the upper house of the Diet. In Japan, a majority vote in both houses of the Diet is necessary for a bill to become law, except in cases of budget appropriations bills. If a bill is defeated or changed by the upper house, the lower house can unilaterally make the bill become law after a mandatory 60 day period and if the bill is supported by a supermajority in the lower house. Even with the Japan Restoration Party joining in, the LDP and NKP does not have enough votes to pass the bill in the upper house. This is why opposition to the bill is important.
The fact that the bill specifically targets manga and anime while exempting text has been noted by many manga authors, and the concern has been shared by member of both sexes. Izumi Mito a.k.a. Raika Kobayashi, a veteran BL and light novel novelist, suspected that the wording of the bill was designed to disarm resistance toward suddenly making manga and anime subject to the child pornography law. She points out that proponents of the law took note at how a huge outcry resulted the last time anime and manga were considered for inclusion in the Japanese child pornography law. Mito is not only a novelist, but she is also a founder of Jitsuzai Jidou no Jinken Yougo Kikin (“Existent Children Human Right Aid Fund”), a fund established in protest to how the Tokyo Metropolitan Government targeted author of violating the right of legal non-existent youth while neglecting providing fund to help youth that do exist.
In Japanese, I pointed out on my twitter account that the current Japanese definition of child pornography is as following:
1) Any pose of a child engaged in sexual intercourse or any conduct similar to sexual intercourse;
2) Any pose of a child having his or her sex organs, etc. touched by another person or of a child touching another person’s sex organs, etc., which arouses or stimulates the viewer’s sexual desire;
3) Any pose of a child wholly or partially naked, which arouses or stimulates the viewer’s sexual desire.
In legal terms, child means anyone under the age of 18. If this definition is maintained and law is expanded to include manga and anime, vast amount of material that is not even considered worthy of being classified as harmful to youth would become illegal to draw, show, read or watch in Japan.
Child pornography law does not allow an artist merit defense. It does not differentiate between obscene or non-obscene. It does not care if the work is a national treasure nor if it was doodled on a bathroom wall. As Neil Gaiman noted in 2008, “The Law is a blunt instrument.” This law could not be any blunter.
Unfortunately, researcher Yuzuru Nakaga recalled how he had a conversation with a member of the Diet who assumed anyone who “draws an image of minor being exploited must be a criminal.” It is clear that a lot of lobbying must be conducted.
One manga author who is aggressively lobbying the current Diet is Ken Akamatsu, creator of Lovehina and Negima who is also the founder of J-Comi, the popular manga download enterprise. Akamatsu has stated that he is focusing on his efforts on removing the supplemental provisions that calls for investigating the relationship between manga, anime, etc. with violations of the human rights of children. He hopes that once the final draft of the bill is revealed, the industry groups will start a vigorous campaign to oppose the bill. Akamatsu visited not only the Diet, but also the headquaters of the LDP itself.
Numerous symposiums have been sponsored by the Uguisu Ribbon Campaign (main page and its English mission statement) and are exposing serious flaws in the current draft that is expected to be introduced to the Diet this week. Unfortunately, funding issues are making it difficult for the Uguisu Ribbon Campaign to conduct an effective protest. Founder Koutaro Ogino is seeking donation here. They are currently working out how people from overseas can contribute funds. I will update this information as soon as it is online.