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.