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Kadokawa President Apologizes for "Pro-Censorship" Remarks

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Takeshi Natsuno came under fire online for saying that manga publishing standards should change for Google, Apple

Kadokawa president and chief executive officer Takeshi Natsuno apologized on Wednesday for "inappropriate remarks" he made last week concerning sexually stimulating content in manga. His comments, which were made on an ABEMA Prime program regarding the appropriateness of gravure in boy's magazines, were criticized for expressing a "pro-censorship" view and for conveying a misleading impression of Kadokawa's corporate direction.

In the July 21 program, Natsuno was responding to a question regarding what he thought would happen if gravure disappeared from magazines. He said that although one shouldn't force something to disappear entirely, Japan is overflowing with manga that is "even more stimulating than gravure."

"With that in mind," he said, "a lot of Japanese manga won't pass review at Google or Apple. So, while keeping that in mind, I do somewhat have the feeling that we have to re-establish the standards of what is okay to release and what isn't for the internet era. In the publishing industry that I'm in, everyone is in the pro-freedom of speech camp, but I do get this strong feeling that we have to redraw the line somehow."

The comments were criticized strongly online by various writers and creators. Love Hina and Negima! creator Ken Akamatsu commented that while he did not think that Natsuno expressed his remarks with the seriousness or conviction to attempt convincing other large publishers to censor their manga, a person with his level of influence has the power to impose self-censorship at Kadokawa. He also pointed out that unlike other publishers such as Kodansha and Shogakukan, Kadokawa is listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. "It appeals to shareholders to conform to the standards of foreign capital," Akamatsu said.

Novelist Mikito Chinen tweeted: "If [censorship] were to happen, then Japan's manga and anime would lose all their predominance. Manga and anime are received well overseas because they were created with freedom and without consideration for what will do well there. It is quite dangerous for this kind of opinion to emerge from Kadokawa."

In his apology, Natsuno acknowledged that although he participated in the program in an individual capacity, it was inappropriate of him to say such remarks as the president of the company. He emphasized that his comments have no bearing on the direction of the company. As repentance, he will take a 20% pay cut for three months between August and October. On Twitter, he also apologized for any crude words or profanities he uttered in the program.

Dwango managing director Shigetaka Kurita also assured his followers on Twitter that the Niconico platform has no plans to adopt censorship or restrictions of expression.

Sources: Abema, Nikkan Sports

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