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Tokyo's Nonexistent Youth Bill Voted Down in Committee (Updated)

posted on 2010-06-14 13:00 EDT
2nd bill to restrict sexualized, "depicted youths" in manga, anime also defeated

The General Affairs Committee of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has voted down the bill to regulate sexualized depictions of "nonexistent youths." The bill would prohibit sexualized depictions of "nonexistent youths" — such as in manga, anime, games, and other materials — from being sold to minors. Committee members from the Democratic Party of Japan (the largest faction in the assembly), the Japanese Communist Party, and the Tokyo Seikatsusha Network party voted against the bill. According to the Asahi Shimbun paper, the bill also faces defeat before the entire assembly on Wednesday.

The bill is supported by the Liberal Democratic Party, which is the second largest faction in the assembly and the party of Tokyo's current governor, Shintarō Ishihara. The LDP and its New Komeito Party ally introduced a second version of the bill that attempted to clarify its vague, convoluted language. Among other changes, the second version replaced the newly invented term "nonexistent youth" with "depicted youth"; Governor Ishihara himself said in May that the term "nonexistent youth" makes people wonder, "Are they talking about ghosts or something?" However, the second version of the bill was also voted down in committee.

The last time that a bill presented by any Tokyo governor was defeated in the assembly was in 1988. The Tokyo Metropolian Government's Office for Youth Affairs and Public Safety aims to revise and re-introduce the bill in the assembly's September session.

The Democratic Party of Japan, Japanese Communist Party, and Tokyo Seikatsusha Network have 53, 8, and 3 assembly seats, respectively — enough for a slim majority out of 127 seats to defeat the current bill. The lone member of the Jichi Shimin '93 faction also opposes the bill. By contrast, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito Party have 38 and 23 seats, respectively.

Like most prefecture-level governments in Japan, Tokyo already has an existing Youth Healthy Development Ordinance to prohibit the sale of "harmful publications" to minors. The Tokyo Metropolian Government's bill would specify that such "harmful publications" would include sexualized yet non-explicit materials that do not involve actual people. 1,421 manga creators, 10 publishing companies, the Japan Pen Club, the Japan Cartoonists Association, and the Writers Guild of Japan voiced their opposition to the bill.

On June 4, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki issued a statement about the bill on the studio's official blog. Suzuki declared that regardless of the outcome of the revision bill, Studio Ghibli will continue to create works based on what it believes in.

Thanks to Dan Kanemitsu for extensive research.

Sources: Asahi Shimbun, MBS, Mainichi Shimbun

Update: The Japan Times posted an article on Saturday with quotes from Yukari Fujimoto, an associate professor of girls manga and gender at Tokyo's Meiji University and an opponent of the bill. The article also mentioned Tsuneo Akaeda, an obstetrician who supports the bill. A more accurate translation of Suzuki's statement has been added to the above article. Thanks, Dan Kanemitsu.


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