Throwing Down the Gauntlet – Revision Bill Submission Confronted by Japanese Creators, Publishers, Industry Organizations, and More

A bill has been submitted to the lower house of the Diet which would revise the current Japanese Child Pornography Law. The revision bill was submitted jointly between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP,) the New Komeito Party (NKP,) and the Japan Restoration Party (JRP.) You can see the photograph of the members of Diet that are co-sponsoring the child pornography law revision bill right here.

As Mainichi reports, the bill submitted by the LDP, NKT, and JRP is a stark contrast to a bill forwarded by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ.) The DPJ bill has stipulations for ensuring free speech and safeguards against abuse by law enforcement. That bill is currently completely off the table.

Attorney Takashi Yamaguchi appeared on TBS Radio’s Session-22, a nationally syndicated radio program. All the details regarding the officially submitted bill can be downloaded from its website. The bill is broken up into four PDF files.
– An outline of the revision (Japanese.)
– A detailed comparison regarding its proposed changes (Japanese.)
Details regarding the actual bill (Japanese.)
– The official bill summary (Japanese.)

Yamada Taro, a legislator of the upper house of the Diet and member of the Your Party has also uploaded the officially submitted draft. Here is the web page and here is the actual PDF file (Japanese.) The contents are the same, but the PDF file on Yamada’s website is not broken up into four parts.

Nearly everything that I pointed out as being dangerous has been included in this bill.

Furthermore, not only does the bill mandate investigative research into “links” between certain manga and anime with violations of human right of children, but it states the law must be revisited after three years and the results of the previously stated research must be taken into consideration for a further revision.

In other words, this child pornography revision would:
1) Maintain the current vague definition of what constitutes child pornography.
2) Makes possession of anything that falls in to this category illegal.
3) Anybody found to be in possession of the said material for the purposes of satisfying “sexual curiosity” would be penalized.
4) Creates a new legal category of fiction where the current vague definition of child pornography is applied to manga, anime, and computer generated images, (but not novels) thus creating the category “manga, anime, CG, virtual child pornography similar to child pornography.”
5) The government would be mandated to conduct investigative research into how violations of human rights of children could be linked to “manga, anime, CG, virtual child pornography that are similar to child pornography.” This clause also extends to conducting investigations on instituting ISP level blocking of sites featuring child pornography.
6) After three years, the Diet is directed to revisit the child pornography law and consider revising the law even further based on the results of the investigative research.

And as I have noted previously, nothing in the bill indicates the research should be conducted by a neutral party. The research results could easily be tailored to justify further legislation that would expand the definition of child pornography to include fictional visual depictions, while novels and other text based representations are not included.

Yes, Mr. Shintaro Ishihara’s novels would not be subject to the ban, but recreating them in manga or anime could run afoul of being treated as child pornography if the change is made in three years from now.

I trust the readers of my blog know where I stand on this bill. The bill is too vague and should be revised so that it prevents and penalizes acts of abuse of REAL CHILDREN and not create a cloud of uncertainty of what constitutes a crime.

I’ve listed my reasons for opposition here.

I find great solace in knowing that I am not alone.

The Japan Doujinshi Marketplace Network has stated their opposition, noting that the new category of “manga, anime, CG, and virtual child pornography that are similar to child pornography” is far broader than what the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths considers harmful even after Bill 156 was passed in late 2010.

The Comic Market Committee has voiced their opposition to the pending bill, staking out the position that a world where a wide range of opinions are mutually respected and where diversity is tolerated is far better for children than a world where they are not. It is clear from reading their statement they fully intend to defend artistic freedom as best as they can.

The Japan Cartoonist Association has also released a statement in opposition to the current bill, where they question how a law that brings about a situation where people are forced to burn books can be considered a culturally enhancing, civilized policy in the modern age.

The Japan Book Publishers Association and the Japan Magazine Publishers Association issued a joint statement opposing the bill. They note that since the Japanese Child Pornography Law does not have any exemption clause (i.e. academic, artistic, or historical significance) common in foreign nations, if the law was expanded to cover fiction such as manga and anime, not only would freedom of expression suffer tremendously and leave a lasting impression into the future, but many works of fiction produced in the past would be become illegal.

JAniCA (Japan Animation Creators Association) released a statement opposing the proposed revision, stating that contents of the law has completely gone astray of its stated purpose of preventing clear cases of abuse and prohibiting exploitation of minors. The association protests the revision as it feels it is highly likely a chilling effect would cripple artistic freedom substantially, and thus cause Japan’s animation culture to go into decline. As in the case of every protest that I have listed, JAniCA expresses their support for the stated intent of Japan’s Child Pornography Law, yet takes note that the clause that mandates research regarding links between animation and manga with human right violation of children would create such a chilling effect that clearly constitutes a violation freedom of expression guaranteed under the Japanese constitution.

Regarding legal validity, an article in Bengoshi.com (lawyers.com) pointed out that  this law has a serious flaw in that it mixes in issues regarding real children’s welfare with regulation of fiction such as manga and anime.

Shin Kibayashi, the writer for numerous popular manga titles such as Kindaichi Case Files, Psycho Busters, and GetBackers, was invited by the Japanese Government to give advise about helping promote Japanese soft power through the Cool Japan program. He made clear that engaging in censorship would be counterproductive, and he became livid upon hearing the contents of the bill submitted by the LDP, the very party in power today that invited him to participate in the Cool Japan policy formulation process. He could find hardly anything in the bill worth defending, noting if this revision bill would become law, it would effectively be a form of thought police. He asks for narrow-minded politicians not to wreck animation and manga, something Japan can boast to the world, out of self-righteousness. He also argues that politicians trying to ruin anime and manga are unknown overseas and that their lives might end in less than 50 years, while Japanese anime and manga characters that are popular overseas have the potential to live on for another 200 years.

Ken Akamatsu (Lovehina, Negima) has been leading a vigorous effort at trying to sway legislator’s opinions. He has already visited the Diet a number of times and on May 30th, he even brought with him Tetsuya Chiba (Joe of Tomorrow) and Reiji Matsumoto (Galaxy Express 999.) The two were very upset, but Akamatsu reports discussion with legislators were quite productive.

The bill will likely be debated in the Diet for the next few days, but what will come about is still very much in the air.

This entry was posted in censorship, child pornography, harmful material, news, news coverage, public morality and media. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Throwing Down the Gauntlet – Revision Bill Submission Confronted by Japanese Creators, Publishers, Industry Organizations, and More

  1. T. Sheppard says:

    Glad to read about creative people making a stand against this. Kibayashi hit the nail right on the head.

  2. Dark says:

    According to DIET member, Mr. Taro Yamada, below are the current hopes we cling to:
    [quote]The future passage of this law is not clear, but this is likely:

    1. It will pass in deliberations of the lower house’s Committee on Judicial Affairs

    2. It will pass in deliberations of the lower house’s regular session

    3. It may be rejected in deliberations of the upper house’s Committee on Judicial Affairs

    4. It will then be subject to deliberation in the upper house’s regular session

    The main points being:

    •The Committee on Judicial Affairs has a lot of cabinet proposals to deliberate on, so it may not get through them this session. However, in the lower house there is only one bill left, so it may get past into regular deliberation.

    •The opposition is strong in the upper house, the bill may not even get to the deliberation phase before they run out of time.

    •If this happens, it will become just another abandoned bill.[/quote]

    To this point, I don’t know, and don’t even begin to know how to react to this >sorry< blah blah blah crap. So even Mr. PM Shinzo Abe support this stupidity? Yeah, and it is him that "support to create 19 points for Cool Japan to attract more foreigners, which is including promote ANIME"

    Also, not sure but I should point out one point: You can NOT create an EXTREMELY vagued, full of holes LAW, and expect it to be SUCCESSFUL. This is come from my own experience. In my country, a lot of FLAWED laws go into effect, and the only truely succes they archive is to make the corruption in government even LARGER than before

  3. Reika says:

    Dan, i really hope this bill will never pass or it can pass but without covering the research about manga, anime and videogames. And another thing, their intent is not protect children but censor freedom of speech.
    Please Dan, and all japanese artist, protest hard and loud against this crap, anime and manga is the only genuine hobby and true enterntainment i have in these and future days.

  4. tiwddol says:

    Any words from the LDP about the elephant in the room that leads to actual exploitation and prostitution of children, aka the junior idol industry?

    Oh wait, they’re their customers! That’d be a conflict of interest.

    • Dark says:

      Er……actually, no. Not a SINGLE one of those DIET members who make this crap agree to appear & discuss about it. In short: they create it, they push it, but have NO ball AT ALL to come out & voice their support for what they make THEMSELVES.

      Well, what should we expect? Government the same everywhere: always make a mess around everything, but do not have enough courage to openly explain why doing this to the public.

    • dankanemitsu says:

      Since the definition of child pornography isn’t changed, junior idol material will remain legal, since it is legal now. The bill simply expands of what can be subject to that definition, not the definition itself. Attorneys are frustrated that this revision will do nothing to address certain froms of sexual abuse of children simply because it does not satisfy the definition. The emphasis on subjectivity of the watcher is preventing addressing the issue of preventing actualy cases of abuse.

  5. H P Dice says:

    I’m a little confused here:

    “4) Creates a new legal category of fiction where the current vague definition of child pornography is applied to manga, anime, and computer generated images, (but not novels) thus creating the category “manga, anime, CG, virtual child pornography similar to child pornography.”
    5) The government would be mandated to conduct investigative research into how violations of human rights of children could be linked to “manga, anime, CG, virtual child pornography that are similar to child pornography.” This clause also extends to conducting investigations on instituting ISP level blocking of child porn sites.”

    If they are creating a “new legal category” for “visual fiction similar to child pornography” isn’t this distinguishing between real works and fictional works? And if they are mandating that the government investigate the effects on children of fiction that fits into this category doesn’t this imply that they will not be treated the same as actual child pornography–at least not now?

    Obviously this is still bad–there’s still the devastating impact of a chilling effect and who knows how they will go about this “investigation”–but I’d like some more clarity, if possible, on how they’re attempting to incorporate fiction into this.

    • dankanemitsu says:

      If they are creating a “new legal category” for “visual fiction similar to child pornography” isn’t this distinguishing between real works and fictional works?

      Yes and no. They are attempting to apply the standards of real child pornography to fiction, but they do note that it is differnt from real child pornography. The investigative research is supposed to ascertain a link between the two.

      The implication is that they could treat such material as being harmful and restricted from minors (regardless of the nature of the material,) subject such material to fall under the jurisdiction of a committee that judges the merit of the work, or even simply state that material that fits that description, even if it is fiction, is a gross violation of minors and should be banned.

      The fact such a catagory is created will have a detrimental impact on the creative community and the industry. Many retailers will probably stop carrying material that the government identifies as “similar to child pornography.” I believe that is half the reason why this clause was included.

  6. lorddivides says:

    Well, this opposition comes as no surprise to me WHATSOEVER intellectually, but it still comes as an emotional relief to hear it actually stated.

    THIS, on the other hand: “The two were very upset, but Akamatsu reports discussion with legislators were quite productive.” is good to hear.

    I hope we manage to tip the balance ^_^.

  7. Dark says:

    Well, at least according to your latest twitter’s comments, hope begin to emerge, though still extremely slim. What can I say? This is how government nowadays work: always mess every single bit of simplest things up, but never actually try to solve anything.

    Regarding that bill, I don’t even begin to know how to react to it anymore, except say this again: The more vague, more broad your bill is, the only thing it would ever success is to expand the ever-expanding corruption within the law enforcers, in this case, the Police.

    • Azure says:

      So we are at again at the same point the previous bill brought us, right? Fear mongering, vague definitions and in the end probably little to nothing will change. And with so vague definitions is simply impossible to tell what constitutes child pornography and what not, specially the part where it says “for sexual satisfaction”.

      Yep. As you just said, this hardly will have any success if it passes.

      • Dark says:

        My point is a little bit similar to the author of an article about the ongoing raid toward late night club in Tokyo. He said if the raid still goes on despite of growing critics, corruption will be ensured, a.k.a clubs will pay “some compensations” so that the Police will just turn aways from them, or at least they get “sensitive information” beforehand.

        The same for the “inverstigative research”. To put it simply, publishers and/or studios will need to “settle down” with the inverstigative group, and they will “Oh, that series? Yeah, we’re already done research it, and we don’t see any violate of human rights in there. So that’s that, let’s look at the others” —> or things like this.

        Of course this is my personal thinking. However, that’s based on what happen in my city. Laws, laws, laws & laws everywhere, rules, rules, rules & more rules, some very stupid, like the bill about “stop the games online services after 10 pm”. But in the end, with some you-know-what, in the end, nothing change.

        And yeah, in the end, I’m still AGAINST this stupidity. I just fear that these kind of craps only mess thing up (THE Chilling EFFECT, here we come), but NOT solve anything

  8. Azure says:

    And just as Dan pointed out, this bill if passed and become law, will be impossible to enforce due to the vagueness of its language. Furthermore, they won’t be able to say an entire work is child porn material because of a few panels (unless you are asking for readers and their parents to go after your sorry ass), less if those are used for abstract or comedic purposes. Then there’s the matter of the age, I can see many authors drawing their women in a way they look adult, or much easier, they won’t write their ages. And of course the sole fact this is fiction, you simply can’t create a link between this and reality, you can’t.

    For those reasons pointed above and others I didn’t mention, I think this bill is stupid, flawed and almost a joke. It won’t kill the industry, it wil likely change nothing, but its chilling effect is still bad.

    And speaking about overreacting, I recommend you don’t visit Sankaku Complex. They told me their articles have become a thousand times distorted. Same goes to Animenewsnetwork forums ;)

  9. Azure says:

    Dan, in your list I see you mention other regulatory failures such as the Alcohol Prohibition in the US or the Comic Code or socialist literature in Japan during prewar era. Could you please write a brief summary of how those went and why all turned a huge failure? Thanks in advance.

    • Dark says:

      All those would make a very long article, or several articles. One of the example for the failure of Alcohol Prohibition in the US is the rise of Al Capone in Chicago. You can look for his information more on the internet. That law about banning while is the main reason why he became the most powerful underground whine dealer in Chicago at that time. Correct me if I’m wrong, okay?

  10. Dark says:

    Like someone on MangaUpdates once said: believe in Sankaku like trust Fox Channel & find mass-destructive weapons in Iraq.

    Obviously if the law itself is too vague to enforce properly, the only thing can be “enforced” is expand the ever-expanding corruption within the government body, and in our case, the stupid chilling effect. I’m sorry if someone got insult because I use the word “stupid” too much, but that’s what I feel about many publishers/studios in Japan. Instead of proving that they are the ones who pay for all those lawmakers, not the other way around, they’re SO MUCH into “save face” & “obeying the law & maintain public order”.

    I don’t like lobbyists, never had been, never will be. But gosh! This might be the only times in my life, I wish all those big names would just go all out, lobbying, paying for all levels of judge to shut those “activists, feminists, and all those blah blah blah” once and for all: Do what you’re mean to do. Shut up & get out. We don’t have anything to do with “violating human’s rights or women’s rights” here.

    • Azure says:

      All the major publishers have already said that they won’t give a shit. No surprise there, they issued the same reactions during the youth bill controversy.

      And since this is only about possession of such material, well, good luck with that. Unless there’s someone stupid enough to confess, no one will get prosecuted for this. It’s a loss of time that only serves to add confusion.

  11. I worry a lot says:

    The major publishers may survive, but I’m equally worried about the chilling effects on the doujinshi/amatuer/small publisher scene. Perhaps I’m being overdramatic, but I feel that a strong doujinshi scene has always been essential to the vitality and future of the larger, “official” industry. In my opinion, the unfettered artistic freedom and “direct connection to readers” that so many nascent authors experience through doujinshi creation, is what gives Japan’s anime and manga such a unique vibrant feel. If the doujinshi/amatuer scene ends, then I fear that anime and manga will lose its unique vitality and slowly but surely die out.
    If big publishers are “trees”, then doujinshi/amatuers/small publishers are “seedlings”. The trees may be strong enough to survive a harsh freeze, but the forest has no future if it loses too many seedlings. The forest needs both.

    • Azure says:

      Now you’re exagerating. Dan said it many times, as long as people buy they’ll be fine. And doujin is about everything, not just sex. Manga and Anime will only die the day readers stop buying their stuff. In other words: never.

      And besides this is a bill about possession, not about creation and selling of such material which is already illegal, and you can see the results yourself. Plus it is unenforceable.

  12. Dark says:

    At this point I’m not worry MUCH about the bill itself (MUCH because that doesn’t mean I’m not worry AT ALL (-_-)) but the chilling effect it create, just like Bill 156.

  13. Matthew says:

    Dan, do you know about the Youth Sex Protection Law in South Korea? Looks bloody disastrous and should serve as a warning for Japanese lawmakers.

  14. Azure says:

    Dan please, I need you to clarify me on something. The provisions to conduct an investigation about real and fictional children being abused, why they were included? My first impression was that they are not sure or that they know fiction =/= reality, and because is not the same they want to make sure if fictional sexual suggestive depictions of children could be linked to real sexual abuse. Am I wrong? And sorry for the bad wording :P

    • Wesslie says:

      Fiction cannot lead to real-life nor is it responsible for actions which happen in real-life. Ironically the moral brigade rather blame books for the actions of the immoral to began with.

      A book written about murder and read by someone is not the same as someone actually committing a murder. What is contained in a book is part of the book and no real persons are involved.

  15. Wesslie says:

    Nothing more than classic thought-police syndrome. Manga, Lolicon and Anime does not hurt children. Nor is it meant for children.

    If something is not made in the consumption of using a real person(like, actual porn instead of cartoon characters), and is not meant for a younger person to began with, how can it possibly “hurt” or “harm” a child. It doesn’t. Fictional books cannot and do not hurt children, but thought-policing and limiting freedom of artistic expression and speech in fiction does to everyone.

    Japan needs to start standing up against these thought-police syndromes driven by a moral dictatorship. Cartoon drawings are not real people and regardless if they are liked or not, no one is hurt or harmed in their creation. Whatever happened to the balance between reality and fiction? These laws put the status of cartoon characters on the same level as a real person and are a waste of both time and discriminatory criminalization.

    I hate to see a generation of past and future artists be limited in their creations due to these bogus and senseless laws. Banning and illegalizing genres of books does NOTHING to help real people. How does banning a book help helpless folk? It doesn’t. Only satisfies a self of moral bridage while the helpless still have to deal with the reality of their situations. And those situations don’t go away just because a genre or book is banned.

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

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