National

Japan top court rejects ‘vagina kayak’ artist’s obscenity appeal

Kyodo

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal made by an artist against a lower court ruling that found her guilty of obscenity for distributing 3D scans of her own genitalia to supporters in 2013 and 2014.

The top court's No. 1 Petty Bench turned down a claim of innocence by 48-year-old Megumi Igarashi, who works under the pseudonym "Rokudenashiko" ("Good-for-nothing girl"), that the distribution was "part of her artistic activities." She will be fined ¥400,000 ($3,740) as ordered by the lower courts.

Igarashi claimed that the data distribution "provided an opportunity for supporters to create something with the data and participate in producing artwork through donations," and was therefore "artistic."

Whether the data was obscene "should be determined after making (the images) visible through projecting them onto a screen or printing them out," the Supreme Court said.

Upholding the Tokyo District Court and Tokyo High Court rulings in 2016 and 2017, the top court added the supporters' participation should not be placed under consideration.

"In the end, the goal was to distribute obscene images," it said.

Speaking at a news conference after Thursday's ruling, Igarashi said, "It was an artistic expression questioning why (the data) is treated as obscene."

The decision was based on "outdated principles," she said.

Igarashi distributed online data that could be used to make 3-D reproductions of her genitalia in October 2013 and March 2014 to donors contributing to her campaign for funds to make a kayak modeled on her genitalia.

In July 2014, she exhibited vagina-shaped plaster artworks at an adult entertainment shop in Tokyo, according to the lower court rulings.

The lower courts ruled that the 3D data "realistically reproduce the shape (of female genitalia) and stimulate the viewers' sexual desire."

But Igarashi was not found guilty of obscenity for exhibiting the artworks, with the lower court rulings saying they do not immediately suggest they are female genitals as they are decorated and painted in colors different from the color of skin. The courts recognized "some degree of artistry and ideology" in them.

Prosecutors did not appeal the high court ruling and a not-guilty verdict for Igarashi over the plaster artwork exhibition has been finalized.

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