Japan’s publishing industry is reportedly planning to ban loli manga by itself, on a “self-restraint” basis.
The plan is being proposed by the “Publishing Ethics Convention”(出版倫理協議会/Shuppan Ronri Kyogikai – the organisation has no official English name nor any site or public presence), an organisation run by the Japan Book Publisher’s Association.
The Convention operates the “Seinen Mark” system, the yellow mark which distinguishes 18+ ero-manga from other manga and ensures age checks and special shelving in the retail distribution channel.
According to reports, they have established an “Investigative Commission into the State of the Representation of Juveniles,” which is proposing new “voluntary” restrictions on loli manga, translated below:
1. Voluntary restraints on publishing manga depicting sex, or activities associated with sex, involving characters modelled on children under 13 and not displaying so-called secondary sex characteristics.
2. Voluntary restraints on publishing manga depicting adults appearing to abuse children who might be thought to be under 13.
The proposed restrictions are said to be opposed by the actual manga publishers targeted, who must understandably be none too happy about their own industry body joining forces with Ishihara and company to attack them.
The Convention actually opposed Ishihara’s ban, making its sudden about turn all the more perplexing.
An employee of one of the companies affected explains further:
“The Tokyo manga ban targetted manga published by Akita Shoten, Hakusensha, Futabasha and others, which did not bear an 18+ mark but had similarly sexual content.
We’re not at all convinced that the adult manga industry, which has been distinguishing between adult and non-adult content, should be affected by any of that.
In any case, this ‘self-restraint’ proposal is even more severe than the Tokyo manga ban.”
There have been no significant attacks on the publishing industry since the Tokyo manga ban passed, so the proposal comes out of the blue – industry figures speculate that the body may be trying to head off further bans by Ishihara and his friends by banning unpopular manga themselves:
“Even now, the Tokyo government maintains its extreme position. The ordinance comes into effect in July, and we can’t deny the possibility that it is intended as a warning to the ero-manga and doujinshi industries.”
As a “voluntary” restraint the policy could not actually physically prevent the publication of loli manga by unaffiliated companies (not that there are many of these), however as it controls the “Seinen Mark” it might well be able to ban loli ero-manga from using the mark, which could severely restrict their sales and thus act as a de facto sales ban, in a similar fashion to the Tokyo manga ban.
Were most of the major adult manga publishers to refuse to publish loli manga in magazine or tankobon form, it would also likely act as a highly effective de facto ban, as without access to the mainstream adult publishing industry ero-mangaka would have extreme difficulty supporting themselves.
The wording of the restriction also explicitly precludes the usual dodge of including a disclaimer or merely avoiding mention of age, and would involve a great deal of ambiguity in judging what exactly “resembles”an under-13.
As usual with such matters in Japan, public debate and scientific evidence have been completely absent.
The Publishing Ethics Convention itself has no public presence, but complaints can be directed against its parent body, the Japan Book Publisher’s Association, although as they evidently take no notice of the interests of their own members it seems doubtful they will heed anyone else.