Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?

twitter Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?0facebook Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?0google Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?0pinterest Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?0tumblr Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?reddit Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?0stumbleupon Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?0email Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?

201102091702 Japanese sexualization of young girls: Just icky or illegal?
Hiroko Tabuchi of the NY Times has a lengthy piece on Japan’s recent legislation banning sales of adult material to minors. Along the way there’s a lot of “Only in Japan!” stuff:

Japan, which has long been relatively tolerant of the open sale and consumption of sexually oriented material, has developed a brisk trade in works that in many other countries might be considered child pornography. But now some public officials want to place tighter restrictions on the provocative depictions of young girls — referred to as “junior idols”— that are prevalent in magazines, DVDs and Web videos.

One particularly big target is manga comic books that depict pubescent girls in sexual acts. They are a lucrative segment of the ¥450 billion, or $5.5 billion, industry for manga, illustrated books drawn in a characteristic Japanese comic-book style.

An ordinance newly revised by Tokyo’s metropolitan government to restrict the sale of such material has prompted a national debate between its publishers and critics inside and outside Japan, who say the fare exploits children and may even encourage pedophilia. Other local and regional governments, including the prefecture of Osaka, are considering similar restrictions.


And things that are even more icky:

“I loved the white bikini,” Ms. Iinuma, the 13-year-old model, told the adult male fans who turned out at the Sofmap electronics store in Tokyo for an event to promote the release of her second DVD, “Developing Now.” It is a plotless 70 minutes of Ms. Iinuma in various costumes and poses.


However, in the lively (100+) comment section, one reader points out that it’s not as clearcut as it seems:

A key aspect of this legislation, that admittedly was rather glossed over in the article itself: the new Tokyo bill does not *ban* any manga, it merely extends the list of subject matter that make it illegal to sell to persons under 18. Adults can continue to read about whatever they wish; only teenagers are now prohibited from fantasizing about teenagers.

I am disappointed that the Times chose to link this bill with material that sexualizes girls; the Times seems to have accepted the argument by Ishihara and his fellow conservatives that this bill targets “extreme sexual content” and exists to protect children from exploitation. But the existing Tokyo Youth Ordinance of 1964 already makes sexually explicit and violent material illegal to sell to minors; this revised legislation exists to allow regulation of non-explicit stories.

Positioning this bill as a fight against pedophillic material also ignore the fact that, during the last 15 years, the existing Tokyo ordinance has largely been used to regulate *romance comics targeted to teenage girls*, especially comics that contain LGBT relationships. These comics are not intended for men, are rarely bought by men, and are just as likely to sexualize male characters as female, but have attracted great opposition from conservative groups who do not like the idea of young women reading about sexual relationships.

This revised bill is not about protecting children from sexual exploitation by adults, it is about “protecting” teens (especially girls) from material that shows types of sexuality (teenage, premarital or LGBT) that Ishihara and his ilk disapprove of. I wish the Times had more clearly explained the background and context of this legislation.


While we support the notion that drawn material is not illegal, as a photo or filmed version would be, we do caution those who are a little too vigorous in their “Let free speech be free! This is all harmless!” defenses: all this stuff is really creepy, even by US standards.

Comments

  1. Now this part sounds just like the USA:

    “These comics are not intended for men, are rarely bought by men, and are just as likely to sexualize male characters as female, but have attracted great opposition from conservative groups who do not like the idea of young women reading about sexual relationships.”

    Yay, my second first-post here!

  2. I have long been against manga for this reason. In the U.S. it’s not “illegal” material being put on the shelves, but just like a lot of anime that I avoid….it gives the idea of sexual promiscuity….the girls are drawn too “young looking” for my tast….so I do not read, watch, or purchase such items expressly because it’s against my conscience.

    Such material; for those unable to “control”
    themselves, is a first step toward pedifilia, and much like Japan is experiencing….it would destoy the fabric of our Nation’s morality.

    Contrast manga to say Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Spiderwoman, etc. where the women are obviously women….and are drawn as women, not as adolescent or pre-adolescent girls.

  3. Justin Harman says:

    Yes, because all manga should be tarred with the same brush.

    Manga isn’t a style. It’s another way of saying COMIC BOOKS.

  4. Such material; for those unable to “control”
    themselves, is a first step toward pedifilia, and much like Japan is experiencing….it would destoy the fabric of our Nation’s morality.

    Nice Poe.

  5. “Such material; for those unable to “control” themselves, is a first step toward pedifilia, and much like Japan is experiencing….it would destoy the fabric of our Nation’s morality.”

    Note: the material is still legal, just not to teenagers, and that the focus of this law isn’t about stopping kids from buying comics depicting pedophilia situations, but homosexual acts in comics usually made for teenage girls.

    We’re talking about a medium in which, in the states, the main focus is on incredible acts of violence. How is it you’re afraid that one type of material would influence dudes to fuck kids, but you’re not worried that another type of the same material would motivate dudes to murder petty thieves, or don capes and stalk the city beating up prostitutes? If you believe a medium has the power to move people to engage in one illegal act, why don’t you believe it has the power to do another?

    This is often an argument people make about video games, that the violence in them influence folks to commit more violent crimes. The fact is, that violent crime has dropped every year since video games came back into vogue in the early nineties.

    Have people used either games or comics to justify their crimes? Perhaps, but they are rare cases. Marvel sells millions of violent comics a year, and we never hear of anyone motivated criminally by them. Statistically, I think we’re good.

    We don’t cater our society to “those unable to “control” themselves,” that’d be like banning peanuts because some people are allergic. People used to say that Ragtime Jazz would “destoy the fabric of our Nation’s morality,” But we’re still here.

  6. Xenos says:

    I’m all for any fictional manga depiction of sex and violence. You can’t ban fantasy. There’s no actual crimes there. Just ink on paper. No one is the victim there!

    Meanwhile I think there’s a huge line when it comes to those jr idol videos. I saw at least one store in Japan walking through a building… aaaand just kept walking. Ack How such blatant depictions and exploitation of actual underage models is allowed is beyond me. Such pretty damn sexual use of actual child models is something that should be illegal.

    Now they’re not quite pushing to ban manga just yet. Talk backers are very right to point out that the conservative Japanese politicians are first and foremost going after the gay romance comics that have a largely female readership. That’s a whole other interesting aspect.

  7. Xenos says:

    Huh.. I didn’t know Jack Thompson was posting on here as John Q Citizen…

    Surprised he didn’t bring up Japanese vidya games and how they’re corrupting the pure white innocent American youths.

    :eyeroll:

  8. “Adults can continue to read about whatever they wish; only teenagers are now prohibited from fantasizing about teenagers.”

    Somehow I don’t think that’s going to work. :)

    “This revised bill is not about protecting children from sexual exploitation by adults, it is about “protecting” teens (especially girls) from material that shows types of sexuality (teenage, premarital or LGBT) that Ishihara and his ilk disapprove of.”

    This really goes back to the reasoning behind the Code: the “material harmful to minors” argument, which I think has been overplayed when it comes to depictions of sexuality. Sure, there are things that children and (to a lesser extent) teens are better off not being exposed to, but that line has been drawn in the wrong place So Many Times that any attempt to draw a line like that needs to undergo serious scrutiny to see if it’s really warranted.

  9. rinsmith says:

    This bill is ridiculous. To those who think it will decrease the amount of smutty manga and anime, think again. It is an age restriction law and it is extremely vague; so even the mildest adult theme will be scrutinized. Because of this, many creators will water down their story to make it “kid/family friendly” or since even a tiny bit of innuendo may be enough to get a mature rating, they will simply go all out and make the material even more violent and/or sexual. In other words, this bill will create more smut, not less. Also, it will divide everything into kids only or adults only, just like the US has been. So, if it is enforced, this law has the potential to become Japan’s version of the Comic Code.

Speak Your Mind

*