Tokyo’s manga ban has been signed into law after passing a final vote, and is set to come into effect in 2011, with Tokyo governor Ishihara crowing that “Japan still has some common sense left after all!”
The ban already passed a committee vote, and as expected also passed a final vote on the 15th – the law stipulates that “voluntary restraints” must begun in April of 2011, with the full force of the ban to come in July.
All the major parties supported the ban – the ruling DPJ (leftist) insisted on a “prudent application” rider but otherwise did nothing to oppose the law as they did with the previous bill.
The LDP (right-wing) proposed and supported the original and current version of the bill. Their usual coalition partners, the Koumeito (the political arm of a Buddhist cult), also supported the bill, leaving only small parties to the left of the DPJ to oppose it.
Once again the motives of the DPJ can only be guessed at – they have repeatedly blocked national bans on possession of child pornography (already illegal to distribute) on civil liberties grounds, opposed the previously rejected version of the bill because it was worded as a ban on “virtual child pornography,” and actually insisted the just passed Tokyo law remove a “duty not to possess [real] child pornography” clause.
However, when the current bill’s wording was changed to ban depictions “promoting illegal or immoral sexual activity” (effectively a vastly more far-reaching ban than previously) rather than “[virtual] sexual activity involving minors” (this version of the ban was clearly targeting loli manga) as in the current version, their previous opposition all but evaporated.
That the law explicitly excludes photographic material can probably be interpreted both as a specific attack on “otaku” culture and an effort to avoid antagonising Japan’s mass media, who obviously would not support any restrictions on themselves but are only too happy to support them on other industries.
The 10 publishers who have boycotted the Tokyo Anime Fair are angry at the treatment meted out to the industry by Ishihara and his cronies:
“The earlier bill was defeated with heavy opposition, and we are indignant that the bill should be resubmitted in so short a time.”
Kadokawa’s CEO has vowed opposition will continue, although just what publishers can do about it is not clear, particularly in light of their evident ineptitude in handling politicians.
Ishihara for his part is crowing over the industry’s defeat:
“It makes sense for this to have passed – Japan still has some common sense left after all!”
In interviews he merely laughed at the industry boycott:
“If they’re outraged about this then they shouldn’t come. They’ll come the next year, for sure.”
Veteran shoujo mangaka Machiko Satonaka speaks of complete betrayal at the hands of the politicians:
“There were representatives who promised us ‘we won’t resubmit the bill without consulting manga and anime producers,’ but they submitted it anyway, so I feel we were tricked. There are many issues with the ordinance, in particular the ‘improperly promote or glorify [sexual activity]‘ passage, and there is no way we can accept this.
In particular, I worry about the future for young mangaka – I hope they will persevere without the industry falling into decline.”