The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is to ban sales to children of a manga series that depicts incestuous relationships, an official said Tuesday, the first time expanded rules on sexual content have been invoked.
“Little Sisters Paradise! 2,” which was published last month by Kadokawa, will be classified as an “unhealthy publication” that must be kept out of children’s reach.
The comic, a spinoff from an adult-orientated computer game with the same title, says on its cover: “More naughty days of a brother and five sisters.”
A panel of experts for the metropolitan government “has reached the decision that (this manga) meets the criteria. We are moving to publicize the decision” formally on Friday, said an official in charge of youth affairs.
Japanese-style comic books are typically aimed at adults as well as children. The ruling affects stores in the capital but does not bar them from stocking the title, which will remain freely accessible to those 18 or older in the adult sections of bookshops.
Three years ago, Tokyo tightened an ordinance to stop children from buying publications that “significantly stimulate sexual feeling.”
“Little Sisters Paradise! 2” is the first publication to fall foul of the 2011 amendment, which expanded the rules to cover pictures or text that “glorifies” incest.
Kadokawa, a major publishing house, declined to comment.
Japan has a huge porn industry and visitors often note the ubiquity of sexual imagery, particularly the prevalence of pictures showing young-looking girls in school uniforms.
But Japan’s attitude toward sexually explicit material often comes in for criticism. While the possession of pornography involving children is not illegal, its creation and distribution was only recently criminalized.
In addition, it is not uncommon to see adults on trains reading manga that would be deemed risque in other societies, though strict rules mandate that genitalia must be obscured.
The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has long pressed Japan to tighten its child porn rules, which it says exacerbate a global problem already made worse by the Internet.
Manga images, while they might be mere drawings, can be considered pornographic under internationally shared norms, said Hiromasa Nakai, spokesman for the Japan committee for UNICEF.
“Many people agree that there are horrible manga images are out there and they need to be dealt with,” he said.
The move to tighten rules on sales of explicit material to children came partially in response to criticism from foreign campaign groups. But it faced resistance at home from manga artists, free-speech advocates and publishers, who said it would impinge on freedom of expression and allow authorities to make arbitrary decisions about art.
Strong societal memories of strict state censorship in the run-up to Japan’s disastrous entry into World War II play into such debates, with dissenters warning of the danger of allowing the government to control the press, which is kept in check by the bureaucracy’s notorious “kisha” clubs.