A judge has handed down jail sentences and fines to censors and pornographers after finding that the mosaics they applied to adult videos were “so thin the colour and shape of their genitals could be recognised” and that as a result they were guilty of “spreading wickedness throughout society.”
The 54-year-old former inspections department executive manager of Japan’s ridiculously named Nihon Ethics of Video Association (“NEVA”), the notionally autonomous body adult video publishers have to pay to ensure the mosaics on their videos are properly applied, together with two inspectors (71 & 67), were all charged with promoting the sale of obscene materials.
The judge handed the manager a ¥500,000 fine, although the prosecution had sought a 10 month jail sentence. The two luckless censors both received ¥500,000 fines as well, precisely as prosecutors requested. Those higher up in the organisation escaped prosecution.
In addition to their prosecutions, the 84-year-old head of a DVD publisher and the 50-year-old boss of another company in his group were both given 10 month jail sentences for selling obscene materials, suspended for 3 years.
The charges stem from a 2006 adult video – “in scenes where genitals were being caressed and otherwise, the mosaic applied to the genitals left their colour and shape recognisable,” and as NEVA approved the video for sale as “non-obscene” it had in fact committed a crime.
What is considered “obscene” is largely determined by what police decide to prosecute as obscene, and what bodies like NEVA decide to interpret as obscene, generally by nonsensical criteria utterly incomprehensible to outsiders.
Recent years have seen some efforts by the industry to market “ultra-thin” mosaics, and whilst NEVA evidently approved these, it appears whatever behind-the-scenes arrangements with police govern such decisions failed to approve as well.
The judge’s guilty verdict:
“You abandoned your responsibilities as an independent inspections organisations, lowering the standards of your inspection and spreading wickedness throughout society.”
“If you accede to the requests of publishers to loosen your censorship criteria, it will no longer be appropriate to respect the results of NEVA’s inspections.”
“Even if values are diversifying because of the Internet, only a minority think we should free sexual expression from being subject to criminal law. Minimum standards of sexual morality must be maintained.”
In a press conference after the verdict was delivered, NEVA’s lawyer criticised the verdict as “a one-sided verdict which went along with the police and public prosecutor’s assertions” and, ironically enough for a censorship body, proclaimed that “freedom of expression is a grave constitutional issue, but they hastily rendered a simplistic ‘it’s obscene’ verdict instead.”
The public prosecutor for his part appears to be something of a moral crusader – “This verdict forms a precedent, emphasising the social necessity of cracking down on the obscene imagery the Internet overflows with,” perhaps neglecting to note the fact the case had nothing to do with the Internet.
NEVA itself is widely regarded as nothing more than a way of giving retiring senior policemen and civil servants lucrative positions of authority from which they can shake down pornographers using their constantly changing definitions of what is considered “obscene.”
In fact, police have been accused of excluding ex-policemen from the house searches they conducted during the investigation, and whilst convicting CEOs of the crimes of their organisation, they seem to have exempted the higher echelons of NEVA from the same treatment.