Kanagawa governor Shigefumi Matsuzawa has announced his intent to run for the position of governor of Tokyo, with his current statements and past deeds indicating he would be an even worse disaster for the anime and game industry than the outgoing Ishihara.
Shigefumi Matsuzawa, a 52-year-old independent politician formerly attached to the leftist DPJ, is currently serving as governor of Kanagawa prefecture (a prefecture adjoining Tokyo and with almost half its population of 9 million in the city of Yokohama).
He has indicated he plans to run in the upcoming elections for Tokyo governor, on a platform which he has made clear will be Ishihara-esque – in fact he has previously openly expressed his admiration for Ishihara.
His latest comments are indicative of this:
“I want to make new rules to protect our youth, not just for Tokyo but for the whole of the capital region. [i.e. Kanto including Tokyo, Yokohama, Saitama, Chiba, etc., over 42 million people]”
He goes on to voice his ardent support for Tokyo’s manga ban, and echoes Ishihara in wanting to ban the Internet as well:
“We should respect the results of the deliberations of the Tokyo governor and assembly […] Protecting our youth from harmful information is a major theme for us. Particularly the malign influence of the harmful, obscene or violent information on the Internet.”
His explicit wish is to see the ban extended throughout the Kanto region, much as Ishihara wanted to “run Japan from Tokyo”:
“I’d like to try to unify all the youth protection ordinances of the capital region prefectures to better protect our young.”
Needless to say, restrictions covering a third of Japan’s population and the heart of its publishing industry would form a de facto national ban.
He also famously appeared on TV denouncing the evil effects of games on children – unfortunately, the graphs shown on alongside him actually display dramatic decreases in in youthful criminality (with the total number of serious crimes committed by young people over the past 80 years shown on the left, and the murder rates for men of different ages from 1955 to 2000 on the right):
As usual with crazy reactionary politicians obsessed with banning things, video games are a prime target, evidence or no – in 2005 he had GTA3 banned in his prefecture as “harmful material” (the same technique currently being applied to manga in Tokyo proper) despite the fact that the game already had an 18+ rating.
His response to the resultant uproar was to proclaim the “silent majority” supported him.
Other recent comments have seen him baselessly assert that fiction corrupts the youth:
“Young people today have lost the ability to distinguish the virtual from the real, and they are influenced by the virtual into lives of crime […] I think national legal restrictions against games are required.”
Japan’s struggling game industry will probably lose all hope of recovery if he enters office.
His administration also came under scrutiny for publishing draft legislation defining “youths” as “people aged 0 to 30” and then going on to propose various draconian measures restricting youth access to “harmful material,” alcohol, sex, and so on.
Other leading candidates include a communist and a man who didn’t even know anything about the ban until he realised he had inadvertently annoyed its opponents – a none too reassuring election looms.