An extreme stealth ban on loli material extending to “clothing or voices reminiscent of a person under the age of 18” has been proposed as an amendment to Tokyo’s regional laws, with clear nationwide implications.
A summary of the relevant passages from the proposed amendment:
Any literature or film which might be thought to constitute a depiction of sexual activity involving or apparently involving a person under 18, someone dressed in a manner reminiscent of an under-18, or who speaks like an under-18, may not in Tokyo be viewed by or sold or distributed to any young person.
A direct translation of the heavy legalese, from the Tokyo Metropolitan Area Youth Protection Ordinance Reform Bill:
Section 3: Restriction of the Sale of Unhealthy Literature
[A ban on sales, lending or distribution to, or viewing by, minors in the Tokyo area would cover:]
1. Items which stimulate sexual emotions, foster cruelty, encourage suicide or promote crime, or otherwise impede the healthy growth of youth. [This clause is identical to current legislation]
2. Items which through age, clothing, accessories, school year, setting, other people’s ages, or voice, seems reminiscent of a person who might be recognised as an under-18 (hereafter called a “a fictional minor”) engaged in, or appearing to be engaged in, sexual activity or activity resembling sexual activity, or which impede the development of healthy sexual faculties in youths, or which might be feared to obstruct the healthy development of youths.
This is indeed as vague, subjective and sweeping as it appears. A similar clause bans “anything resembling rape.”
Although phrased as a ban on sales and distribution to under-18s, the ramifications would be far more severe – anything which might fall foul of the incredibly vague and ambiguous definition of “unhealthy material” given above would likely have to either be censored completely or take an “adult mark” and be treated as age-restricted adult material throughout the Tokyo area.
Tokyo is of course where most anime, manga and games are made and sold – any such restrictions would undoubtedly cause a drastic reduction in sales and consequently production, with nationwide implications.
The ban would also extend to Internet distribution, though whether just to Tokyo minors or also by Tokyo companies to minors elsewhere is not clear. Presumably television would also be within the remit of the ban as well.
The reform bill also proposes to “make possession of child pornography by Tokyo residents illegal,” apparently vaguely defined to include the above sort of material, which opponents are increasingly attempting to brand “virtual child pornography.” However, no criminal sanction is proposed or legally possible, so this particular amendment would appear to be entirely toothless.
Other proposed changes to Tokyo law include attempts to force Internet censorship of “unhealthy” sites for minors (such filtering is already semi-compulsory) by a variety of measures, such as by stripping parents of the right to unfilter their children’s Internet and mobile phone access.
It is not clear what chance the proposal has of being accepted as law at this stage, or whether it could survive concerted legal challenge; protests by publishing industry and union groups have so far been ignored. Those pushing the laws have previously called otaku opponents “mentally ill” and so seem unlikely to heed criticism.
Frustrated at the national level by constitutional protections and political ambivalence, opponents of free expression and sexuality, in large part extremist Christian and feminist groups, have been working to ban material they object to by the backdoor – a ban of such sweeping magnitude would cripple the publishing and Internet industries of Tokyo, as well as crush freedom of expression in Tokyo, and by extension all of Japan.