WARNING: This is not a general anime or manga thread. Don't post about anime/manga that you like/dislike or any commentary other than on this bill and the topic of censorship.
Today, Bill 156 was passed by majority in the full session of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, which will negatively affect the Japanese anime, manga and gaming industries, and will also damage the already suffering Japanese economy. Self regulation will be mandated from April 1st and sales regulation enforcement will begin from July 1st,2011.
Details of the bill can be found in the following link:
The leading supporter of the bill is this guy:
, the far-right Governor of Tokyo and known xenophobe, homophobe, sexist, Rape of Nanking denier, believer of children-eating mountains and author of works depicting children being raped. He had been re-elected three times.
What this bill does is grant a government council authority to label anime, manga and games (but not real life works) as "harmful to children" if they contain any sexual or "psuedo sexual" acts that would be illegal in real life. The original law, which was already in place, had the following definition:
Any material that may be detrimental toward the healthy development of youth because of their capacity to be sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior.
By changing the definition, this gives the council carte blanche to deem anime, manga and games as "harmful to children" under a very vague and subjective definition. The possible effect of this is a de facto ban on certain anime, manga and games, as publishers are forced to self-censor and stifle potential creativity. Works that depict homosexuality could also be banned, as homosexual unions are not legal. There is even a provision that if a publisher fails to follow this ruling multiple times, the governor of Tokyo can publically reveal their name and ridicule them.
This law is not an actual ban. but the reason I call this a de facto ban is because being labelled "harmful to children" means your works can only be sold in adult-only stores. This of course affects profitability and publishers will be unlikely to support a creator's work if they fear the council may label it "harmful to children." This is the biggest issue of the bill, as you can imagine a scenario where you would have to go to an adult-only store to buy an M rated game and how it would affect publishers and their choice of supported products. A major problem is that this may only be a Tokyo bill, but all the biggest publishers are located in Tokyo.
The effect of this bill is already being felt. Some publishers have banned all use of school uniforms in their works, including college uniforms, which means no more works set in high school or college. Works that contain underage romance or incest could not be published, no matter the literary worth of the work or how seriously and maturely they deal with the subject matter. If the publishers of video games take this law to heart like some others, this could mean no more Persona (school outfits) or Harvest Moon (depiction of underage marriage).
Some publishers are already up in arms about this form of censorship. The Big 10 Manga publishers have already vowed to boycott the Tokyo International Anime Fair. The Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, has expressed concerns about the Fair and Comiket being cancelled, stating that while the "healthy development of youth" is an important issue, it is also important for Japan to broadcast to the global audience, and that he urges all parties involved to work towards a solution to "prevent a situation where the international animation fair cannot be held within Tokyo".
Online, there have been proponents of this bill, stating that that the less loli stuff the better, but actually what this law encourages is more of those works. Moe-blob works actually do not violate this law, and as one of the steadiest revenue pullers more publishers would likely release more of these kinds of works than more creative works that could violate the law.
This means more generic moe, less Ninja Scroll, Berserk and Evangelion.
What are your thoughts on this bill? There is an obvious conflict of self-interest with the Governor of Tokyo, who hates anime and manga and would like his child-raping works to sell better than them. There is already a large write-in protest but the Governor has responded with what is basically "let them eat cake." The Prime Minister obviously has Japan's economy in mind when he opposes the bill, but we will see how much influence he has in overturning this. A possible effect are the publishers moving out of Tokyo, but that could be highly damaging and we won't know how many publishers would survive.
When is "think of the children" ever more important than rights such as freedom of speech?