Japanese Politician Apologizes for Saying Anime Contributes to Crime

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

House of Councillors member Ichita Yamamoto, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, posted an apology on his official blog on Wednesday for saying that anime contributes to crime. Yamamoto first made the apology during his live streaming program on Wednesday.

Yamamoto had said on the episode of the Shin Hōdo 2001 political discussion talk show that aired on November 5 that video games and anime may encourage crime. The participants in the episode were discussing the recent case of Takahiro Shiraishi, a 27-year-old suspected serial killer. Police arrested the man in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture on October 31 after finding parts of nine bodies in his apartment.

Yamamoto said on the program that games and anime have an influence on criminal activity when people become unable to distinguish between the fictional and real worlds. Yamamoto said that stories with crime similar to the Zama serial murder case exist in anime. He believes such content can influence people to commit crimes in the real world. He called for online surveillance to prevent related crimes before they happen.

The comments received a largely negative reception online. Some commenters said Yamamoto erroneously placed blame on video games and anime. Other commenters said that even if games and anime have such an impact, other types of fictional works could influence crime just as much.

The politician explained on his blog that immediately after the episode of the talk show aired, he had wanted to amend his statements through Twitter or his blog. However, he decided to wait until the latest episode of his live streaming program debuted three days later so that he could explain properly and give a more direct message to his viewers.

Yamamoto said the apology is not intended to excuse his "verbal slip." He said that he immediately regretted what he said on the program and that it was "extremely inappropriate." He realized his comments made it appear Shiraishi's actions were directly influenced by a specific anime. Yamamoto clarified that there is no concrete evidence linking anime and real-world crime.

Yamamoto described anime as "one of the greatest assets of 'Cool Japan' that Japan boasts of" and said he regrets implying that anime has a negative influence on people's actions. He then reiterated his apology to members of the anime industry, anime fans, and people in charge of the government's "Cool Japan" program. He added that he thinks of himself as one of the leading manga and anime fans in Japan's political world, and he was particularly frustrated with his mistake because he loves manga and anime.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Shiraishi on October 31 on suspicion of abandoning a body. He is expected to be charged on suspicion of murder. Police found the nine bodies in his home after responding to a missing person's report. According to police, Shiraishi admitted to murdering the victims and dismembering their bodies after contacting people who had posted online about suicide.

Thanks to Tayler Franklin for the tip.

[Via Netlab]

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