Photog Leslie Kee nabbed for selling genitalia pics


Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee and two others have been arrested on suspicion of selling photo collections containing images of male genitalia in Tokyo, an act police say constitutes illegal distribution of obscene documents.

Kee, 41, a Japan-based photographer known for his published works featuring celebrities such as Lady Gaga, and two Japanese organizers of a photo exhibition allegedly sold photo books containing the images, police said, adding that most of the pictures in the 50-page book showed male genitalia.

The two Japanese are 45-year-old Hiromi Yoshii, an executive of a company operating a gallery, and 27-year-old Yuko Kanda, an employee of the firm.

The three acknowledged the sales but the two Japanese denied the books contained obscene images. Kee gave evasive answers during questioning Monday, according to police.

The Metropolitan Police Department said the trio sold seven photo books worth ¥42,000 in total to two visitors at an event held in central Tokyo’s Roppongi district Saturday.

Fashionistas decry arrest


Japanese fashionistas leaped to the defense of Tokyo-based Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee on Tuesday after he was arrested for selling books containing pictures of male genitalia.

Kee, who has snapped megastars, including Lady Gaga and Beyonce, was arrested Monday on suspicion of obscenity after selling the books at his gallery.

The 41-year-old photographer could be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to ¥2.5 million if convicted.

Pornography is widely available and produced in Japan, but under domestic law genitalia must be obscured.

“I am stunned by the news of Leslie Kee’s arrest,” Yamamuro Kazz, a leading fashion journalist and magazine editor, wrote on his website.

He questioned the police motivation behind the arrest, because Kee’s works were only available at a gallery event, a forum open just to people familiar with their artistic nature.

“The legal interpretation of whether genitals were exposed (or whether the work is obscene) is totally irrelevant to the intention of an artist,” Kazz said.

“Under their narrow interpretation, works by Terry Richardson and Robert Mapplethorpe are all considered obscene,” he said, referring to prominent U.S. photographers.

Popular model Ai Tominaga tweeted: “I am shocked. I am shocked for Japan.” Others expressed similar dismay online. Twitter user @onda_natsue said the arrest showed how unsophisticated Japanese culture is.

  • If someone is turned on by looking at pictures of male or female genitalia they should be allowed to do so with no penalty. If the pictures are of the genitalia of a consenting adult and the viewer is also an adult then no harm has been done. This is an example of the moral standards of a few being forced on the general population. I would wager that if the general population were to be polled the majority would either not care or be totally indifferent to the issue.

  • Absolutely pathetic. This is a country that purports itself to be a modern liberal democracy enforcing a definition of “obscenity” that would not appear out of place in the mouth of an Iranian Ayatollah.And it does this while sexualizing children (AKB 48 et al) and producing more child pornography than any country in the world. How utterly sickening. For shame, Japan.

  • Guest

    Men are sacred in Japan, so is the phallus.

  • interuni321

    Realistically the obscenity law was brought in to appease western sensibilities before and after WWII. In reality the Japanese themselves are VERY tolerant of public nudity and sex compared to most other countries. The problem is, no one in power wanted to be the first to try and overturn this law in the Diet. The MPs are supported largely by old ladies who while probably not that bothered are also not likely to campaign for the removal of obscenity laws. Most Japanese under 65 (I.e. not so many legislators or Judges) have no love of censorship and don`t care. Freedom of expression was guaranteed by the constitution of Japan, but to date Judges have allowed laws such as this one to ignore the constitution. The Police are just contentiously doing their job without question, as all Japanese bureaucrats tend to do. In reality there is very little official censorship in Japan compared to other countries, including the US. Perhaps a public outcry might get the legislation overturned, otherwise the system will roll on with everyone just doing their job. Finally although I sympathise with Kee, he almost certainly knew what he was doing was risky even if he thought he was just within the law.