• The Associated Press

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Tokyo’s subway authority will allow a station advertisement featuring a nude and pregnant Britney Spears starting Monday, officials said, dropping an earlier plan to censor the photo.

HB Japan, Inc., publisher of the Japanese edition of Harper’s Bazaar, plans to rent ad space at Omotesando Station in Minato Ward this week to promote its October issue with Spears posing naked on the cover.

The ad, in which Spears bares her belly but covers her breasts with her hands, is the same one used in the August issue of the American edition that hit U.S. newsstands last month.

Tokyo Metro Co.’s obscenity screening team, however, initially raised objections to the nudity and during negotiations last month asked HB Japan to modify the photograph.

The publisher reluctantly agreed to blacken out the image from the waist down — covering most of the pop star’s belly and thighs — but had planned to write in the black space: “in this place we are not allowed to exercise the same level of freedom of expression as the original Harper’s Bazaar.”

But on Thursday, Tokyo Metro said it would allow full presentation of the photo as an exception to its obscenity rule, saying it understood the publisher’s intention was to portray a happy mother — not to be sexually explicit.

The magazine’s deputy chief editor, Kayoko Higashino, welcomed the move.

“I’m glad the subway officials understood the meaning of the photo,” she said.

Before the reversal, Higashino had called the restriction “ridiculous,” and said it would be impossible for viewers to tell that Spears was pregnant, saying she would only look “like a chubby woman.”

In principle, nudity is not accepted in ads in subway cars and stations, Tokyo Metro spokesman Tatsuya Edakubo said.

“Our earlier request to cover the photo from the waist down was because of nudity, not because we had anything against pregnant women,” he said.

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