Chiba Police Removes VTuber Traffic PSA Video Following 'Feminist' Backlash
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Chiba prefectural police removed a traffic PSA video featuring the Virtual YouTuber Tojou Linka on September 10, following a letter of complaint from the Alliance of Feminist Representatives (AFER). The letter, which is publicly available on the AFER website, criticized the VTuber's character design as "sexually objectifying."
According to AFER, the video portrays an "underage girl as an object of sexual attraction" because of her "short skirt" and "a sailor uniform-like outfit that reveals her navel." It also highlighted how the character has "large breasts that sway when she moves."
The letter was sent to the Chiba prefectural police head office, the Matsudo City police station, the Matsudo East police station, and the Matsudo City board of education on August 26. AFER received a response from the Matsudo City police station and the board of education on September 9, explaining that the purpose of the video was to encourage safe bicycle usage and that they would "take the expressed opinions into consideration for future promotional activities."
According to Abema News, the Chiba Prefectural police asked the Art Stone Entertainment VTuber management company in July to create a video that youth audiences could engage with. Linka is based in Chiba Prefecture's Matsudo City, and many of her activities are focused on promoting the city.
After the video's original removal, the VTuber's agency posted the three-minute version on its YouTube channel.
Setsuko Itakura, the representative director of the Art Stone Entertainment company which runs the VASE Virtual YouTuber project, commented on the video's removal in a public statement on Twitter. She wrote that as a female business operator, it is one of her goals to create an environment where woman can perform freely. She expressed her surprise and dismay at seeing the video deemed "misogynistic." She also highlighted her love for Matsudo City, and that her company worked closely with the police to produce the video in question.
Ōta Ward Assembly member Minoru Ogino, who is active as a female-presenting Virtual YouTuber, protested strongly to the video's removal. He is encouraging people to sign an online petition addressed to AFER, which demands the organization to answer questions regarding how exactly the video constitutes sexual objectification and how it would be linked to sexual violence. The petition has accumulated over 45,000 signatures as of this article's publication.
Ogino argued that in its attempt to drive a VTuber out of the public sphere by deeming her clothing and body shape as "sexual objectification," AFER is contradicting the values of feminism in supporting the diversity of women and their freedom of presentation. He also highlighted VTuber culture as a space for expressing one's sexuality and gender expression freely, and argued that stigmatizing it as misogynistic is a denial of the rights of members of the LGBT and crossdresser communities.
On Saturday, AFER claimed in a statement that the complaint letter was submitted in order to "raise awareness" of the issue, and that the decision to post or remove the video in question lies entirely with the Chiba police. Masuda City assembly member Kaoru Masuda, who is also a representative of AFER, also tweeted: "Everyone, I don't know how much power you think an assemblyman has, but there is no way a regional assembly member could pressure the police into removing a video."
Itakura responded: "I myself felt a strong pressure when I saw an assembly member's name linked to a protest letter submitted to the police. Furthermore, in my conversations with the police, I have come to the understanding that there are members of the police who felt the same. I fretted over whether this is a matter that I should stay quiet over, but I think that removing things is not the solution, and after hearing the voices of the citizens, I have decided to speak up."
Source: Abema Times