More than 17,000 sign petition for genitalia artist under arrest


Staff Writer

Thousands of people have signed a petition demanding that police free a Tokyo artist arrested on obscenity charges for distributing data that allowed recipients to make 3-D models of her vagina.

In the two days following the arrest of Megumi Igarashi, 42, the online petition platform Change.org had registered more than 17,000 signatures from supporters who say the work is a piece of art and not a sex toy.

Masanori Takano, a Tokyo-based programmer who kicked off the petition campaign on Monday, said Igarashi’s arrest is an attack on freedom of expression.

Takano believes her arrest makes no sense, saying the only thing Igarashi did was send data she had promised to provide in exchange for donations to her project.

“Did she cause trouble to anybody? It’s not like she showed (something obscene) at a public place where many, including those who don’t want to, could have seen it,” Takano told The Japan Times. “I believe her work is art and not an obscene object.”

He said he doesn’t know Igarashi personally but was familiar with her art before her arrest.

“She has clearly stated in writing her intention for her works, and they are not in the least obscene,” he said.

But some criminal law experts say data that can be used to create an obscene shape with a 3-D printer are without a doubt considered obscene material, and that Igarashi would be highly likely to lose a lawsuit arguing it is art.

Igarashi, who calls herself Rokudenashi-ko (“A No-good Girl”), was arrested for “distributing data that could create an obscene shape through a 3-D printer,” a police spokesman said Monday.

Igarashi, who was still in detention on Wednesday, had been trying to raise funds online to pay for the construction of a kayak modeled on the shape of her genitals last year.

She used the crowdfunding website Campfire, and collected ¥1 million from 125 people between June and September 2013. In exchange for donations, she supplied data to donors that would let them use a 3-D printer to make a model of her genitals.

Activist Minori Kitahara said the police raided Igarashi’s office and seized 20 of her artworks.

“Japan is still a society where those who try to express women’s sexuality are suppressed while men’s sexuality is overly tolerated,” Kitahara said.

Igarashi is known for genital-inspired artworks and has worked as an artist for more than five years, according to her supporters. She held an exhibition in Tokyo in May.

If convicted, she could face up to two years in prison or a fine of as much as ¥2.5 million, according to her lawyer.

Information from AFP-JIJI added


    You have this, and at the same time you have Kanamara Matsuri. Japanese authorities’ logic. -_-“

  • j b

    Megumi, you rock!

    Of all the weird sexual stuff going on in Japan, this is what gets flagged as obscene?

  • Kazuhisa Nakatani

    A footnote for non-Japanese:

    Officially speaking, there is no “obscenity” in the Japanese PORN market (sounds like a oxymoron though).

    Obscenity laws forbid the depiction of actual genitalia, which usually appear censored or blurred in images and videos.

    In other words, as long as genitals are not explicitly rendered, the merchandise is not considered “obscenity” and you can sell it even at convenience stores — because it is not “obscene” legally speaking.

    As far as I know, the artist has been mocking the hypocrisy for years, by making those weird but humorous works.

    Nihon Ethics of Video Association, which censors porn films in Japan (i.e. to make sure genitals are blurred), is said to be one of the popular (and lucrative?) golden parachute destinations for bureaucrats of law enforcement.

    • j b

      But aren’t there already vagina-shaped masturbation devices for sale throughout Japan? I guess I’m missing something in the logic.

      • Kazuhisa Nakatani

        That is the point the artist has been fooling around.
        While actual genitalia is carefully blurred, realistic silicon dildos are all-out in the same film.

        Who decides what is obscenity and what’s not? Police? Bureaucrats? Why you are so desperate to look away from certain body parts? Is it so scary?

    • Kazuhisa Nakatani

      FYI part 2:
      Pachinko gambling game (19 trillion yen industry) is not a gamble, officially and legally speaking.
      And it is open secret that Pachinko regulators are one of the most lucrative golden parachute destinations for bureaucrats of you-know-what.

  • lasolitaria

    Another sad day for freedom. This is why you -especially if you consider yourself a “liberal”- can’t let the the PC police have their way: you never know when the shoe will be on the other foot. If you allow, even promote limits on freedom for seemingly “noble” purposes and then someday wake up to widespread censorship… don’t act as if you didn’t know what went wrong.

    I understand the reason for this within the Japanese legal context. However, I believe labeling the depiction of a vagina as “obscene” in any sense is simply ridiculous. Also, you must admit it is an amazing (and I don’t use the word gratuitously) idea. A kayak shaped like a vagina is simply genius. How come nobody saw the connection before?

    P.S.: why is it that just because a woman is involved it becomes a men vs women thing? Let’s not let this rhetoric distract us from the real issue at hand, which is freedom. It’s vital for all of us, regardless of gender.

    • sadlyfunny

      These non-issues were exploited 40 years ago to bring white middle class women on-board the feminist band wagon. These unwitting women had no idea feminism was intent upon estranging men and women. Feminism does not represent women or equality, never mind human rights. It is a blight upon the Western world.

  • JoeyJapan

    This is really ridiculous! What a waste of taxpayer money!

    • sadlyfunny

      Feminism is a massive drain upon western cultures with women’s need far behind political goals. It is a blight

  • GBR48

    Pixelating genitals in porn movies, in the age of the internet, takes pointlessness to a new level. Behaving like a bunch of Nazis. confiscating artworks and arresting an artist for a vagina-based work in the spiritual home of the onahole is just idiocy.

    To help out the Japanese judiciary, here is a short list of things that are obscene:

    Poverty, hunger, child abuse, inequality, racism, bigotry, malfeasance, intolerance, war and cruelty.

    Maybe they could start with some of those, if they have nothing better to do.

    The naked human body however, male or female, is not obscene. It’s beautiful.

    Maybe it’s time to leave the 19th century hypocrisy behind and all be grown up about this sort of thing.

    This is getting airtime across the globe on mainstream TV channels as well as going viral on social media. The great joy of the internet is that institutional hypocrisy can now be given the oxygen of publicity like never before. All of those officially-sanctioned idiocies that Japanese people have simply had to put up with for decades, as they have had no desire to rock the boat, can now explode across the global media. Either those in charge can finally do their job and step into the 21st century, or the government can kiss goodbye to the ‘Cool Japan’ image they are spending so much money on.

    Megumi, you have my sword.

    • sadlyfunny

      Are you suggesting that the Japanese Judiciary does not care about poverty, child abuse, inequality, racism. bigotry, malfeasance, intolerance, war and cruelty? I beg to differ. This is hard core feminist rhetoric. Are you a feminist? I hope Japan addresses human rights, balance and equality for all rather than ascribe to feminism.

    • disqus_78r6IPfptX

      The pixilation is actually to obscure pubic hair, not the organs themselves. In Japan the definition of obscenity features the exhibition of pubic hair. The genital organs get obscured by mere proximity than squeamishness.

  • Irving

    Has Japan always been an insane asylum?

    Let the woman go.

  • disqus_78r6IPfptX

    She should be arrested for stupidity, not obscenity.

  • Phil Blank

    This is crazy.
    In japan they have the penis festival, but she can’t have this?

    Held this year on April 6, the festival is a celebration of the penis and fertility. People parade gigantic phallic-shaped mikoshi (portable Shinto …

  • sadlyfunny

    It reminds of the beginning of the feminist movement in the
    60s and 70s in North America. Maybe Japan will have Women’s Studies departments
    in all their Universities in a few years along with government grants provided
    to women’s organizations and women in general to address inequity. These
    developments may then be soon followed by legions of feminist lawyers,
    legislators and administrators to enact new laws, implement policy and impact
    the application of law without ever forming a traditional political party.
    Anyways I think the kayak is great :)

  • disqus_78r6IPfptX

    It’s actually not her vagina that she’s offering images of. It’s her labia and vulva. What does it say about people’s sexual literacy that they don’t know the difference between internal and external genitalia?
    In addition, it is not genitalia that are deemed obscene in Japan so much as the exhibition of public hair, which is the reason for pixilation of genitalia on adult videos. The pixilation is to obscure the pubic hair and then the genitalia also get obscured by the mere fact of proximity.