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High court upholds guilty ruling for obscenity case of vagina artist Megumi Igarashi

Kyodo, Staff Report

The Tokyo High Court on Thursday upheld a lower court decision finding a female artist guilty of obscenity for distributing 3-D scans of her genitalia and ordered her to pay a fine of ¥400,000 ($3,700).

Megumi Igarashi, a 45-year-old artist who works under the pseudonym “Rokudenashi-ko” (good-for-nothing girl), was found guilty of distributing the scanned images but not for displaying vagina-shaped plaster sculptures.

The lower court ruled that the 3-D data “realistically reproduce the shape (of female genitalia) and stimulate the viewers’ sexual desire,” but the sculptures do not immediately suggest they are female genitals, as the plaster figures are decorated and painted with colors different from skin tones.

“I’ve always believed that I’m innocent. But the 3-D data is guilty and Decoman (plaster artwork) is not — the same judgment with the first trial, which I can’t agree on,” said Igarashi at a news conference in Tokyo.

“Since even before my arrest, I’ve been making artwork claiming that considering female organs as something obscene, indecent or dirty is wrong,” she said. “I’m completely unsatisfied.”

Igarashi’s lawyer Takashi Yamaguchi said, “The court sees that the purpose (of the 3-D data) is to obtain funds for activity,” adding that the court should admit that the scans are part of a larger art project.

According to the ruling, these scans — which could be used to create 3-D reproductions of the artist’s genitalia — had been distributed online in October 2013 and March 2014 to donors who contributed to Igarashi’s fundraising campaign to make a kayak modeled on her genitalia.

The three works were displayed in an adult entertainment shop in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward on July 2014.

See next week’s Insight’s page for a feature story about obscenity laws in Japan.