Tokyo to ban sales of incest-themed comic books to minors

AFP-JIJI

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.

  • Chandrakant Kulkarni

    But what about the huge Porn that is easily accessible / readily available on any ‘modern’ cell phone – just by means of a finger touch? It’s a world-wide experience that our kids are far more intelligent in using electronic gadgets, than us.

    • HairyCockroach

      While that is true, giving a child a smart phone with complete internet access isn’t exactly good parenting either. The point is letting a child buy incest porn isn’t okay. If they look it up on the internet, that’s the parent’s job to keep an eye on them.

  • U Nyunt Shwe

    It’s very right thing to do and ban it for good. May be the writers of such comics are who practice what they preach!!! Damn them!!! This is not the issue of freedom of expression, but the problem of moral issue!!

    • FunkyB

      The “issue of freedom of expression” is _exactly_ the issue when one person tries to censor another citing “morality” as the reason. Putting it in the adult section is the right thing to do and if you don’t like, then don’t buy and don’t read it.

    • xperroni

      “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” (Noam Chomsky)

      • U Nyunt Shwe

        I’ve a lot of admiration for Noam Chomsky, but there’re many exceptions.
        I don’t believe the freedom of expression could do anything that you want to say freely, especially when it hurts other innocent people or society. You may write whatever you like that has full of sins and insane thoughts, but you have to read it by yourselves in a hole and then leave it behind.

        We belong to our family, neighbours, society, and the world. We are not solely individually. You cannot say what you like to say in front of others, especially in the East. We have our own culture. I don’t know if you can say whatever in the West. We have to say incest is wrong. This is a civilised world.

      • xperroni

        There is, of course, an uneasy balance between freedom of expression and other rights – you shouldn’t be able to call on your right to expression in order to harass or defame others, for example.

        Yet if an institution (such as society) can be undone or “hurt” merely by someone saying something unpleasant – how stable was it in the first place? It has to be in pretty precarious shape, that even a couple drivel books can do it harm.

        Besides, if history is any guide, we should always be weary of those who call on “decency” as a justification to go against others. Remember that at one time marrying people from a different ethnicity was just as “wrong” as you call incest today.

        Personally I couldn’t care less about what any number of consenting adults do behind closed doors, but I understand some parents might feel uneasy about their children reading about unconventional relationships at a young age. That’s why I think the decision to restrict (and not outright ban) sales of the mentioned manga was a sensible one.

      • HairyCockroach

        Thank you. Just thank you.

  • http://getironic.blogspot.com/ getironic

    Kids aside, if there wasn’t a demand it wouldn’t exist in any significant quantity. Don’t shoot the messenger; I don’t think the prevalence of stuff like this creates people who are interested, rather the demand of people who are interested creates the work. If such materials were banned, and roughly the same number of people got their fix illegally and privately, what will have been accomplished besides manufacturing criminals out of thin air?

  • Stephen Kent

    As grim as the particular genre mentioned here sounds, I think the scale of the demand for rape-based porn is more worring. In any other country it would probably be seen as indicative of deep-rooted social problems but here nobody seems to give it a second thought.
    It would also be good if there was as much fuss made about freedom of expression when it came to journalism and the media, but again, nobody here seems to care about it.

  • HairyCockroach

    If someone wants to create porn out of incest concepts, I think it’s perfectly fine. Sure it’s gross but they can do whatever they want, it’s their art. Just keep it away from children. They may get their hands on it anyway over the internet, but that’s true for alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, etc. All of those are illegal for minors as well though not impossible to get ahold of. The point is to make it more difficult and not blatantly handing them pornography of two siblings doing it.