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Japanese Communist Party Claims No Contradiction In Opposing Regulation of Anime, Manga

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Party still hopes creative trends will move away from sexualizing children

On October 6, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) became a subject of debate when it updated its policy page addressing its stance on regulating Japanese anime and manga ahead of the next general election. The page stated that while the JCP opposes the categorization of manga, anime, and games as "fictional child pornography" as a means of regulating them, it does perceive a link between fictional child pornography and broader cultural perceptions that normalize child sex abuse. The JCP noted that Japan is regarded internationally as a leader in producing graphic child pornography, and stated that it aims to protect freedom of expression and privacy while also working to create a society in which "it is not permitted for children to become the targets of sexual abuse and exploitation."

One of the common responses to the statement was the question of whether the two stances contradicted one another, particularly in consideration of the JCP's historical policy. In 2010, committee members from the JCP voted against a revision of the controversial Youth Healthy Development Ordinance bill in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly to regulate sexualized depictions of "nonexistent youths."

In a follow-up statement on October 18, the JCP claimed that its current stance is not contradictory. An unofficial translated version of the statement is below:

As stated in the "7. Women and Gender" section of our policy document, the JCP believes that child pornography is the worst form of "sexual commodification," as well as the worst form of sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Therefore, it must be eliminated from society.

At the same time, as expressed in the "60. Culture" section, we are opposed to any movement to impose legal restrictions on manga and anime under the guise of restricting "child pornography."

The fact that the definition of child pornography has been changed to "depictions of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation" in the "Women and Gender" policy has led some to believe that we have changed our previous policy on whether the creative expressions in manga and anime should be subject to legal restrictions, but this is not the case.

The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) has proposed that the term "child pornography" be changed to "depictions of child sexual abuse" to more accurately describe the actual damage that takes place (see the minutes of the House of Councillors Committee on Judicial Affairs, June 17, 2014). We proposed this from the perspective that the legal interests protected by the Child Pornography Prohibition Act (enacted in 1999, and amended in 2004 and 2014) are the freedoms and personhood of real children. It was necessary to apply these provisions not on obscenity or subjective factors, but rather on an assessment of the seriousness of the harm to the child.

It does not, then, follow that our "Women and Gender" policy will lead to legal restrictions on creative works. In light of Japan's current position internationally, we call for a broad range of the concerned parties to debate the matter extensively. We hope for society to reach a consensus on not allowing children to become the subject of sexual abuse and exploitation.

We believe that such discussions are important for the creators and lovers of manga, anime, games, etc. in order to protect their freedom of expression against legal restrictions that are promulgated under the guise of "restricting child pornography."

JCP standing member Yoshiko Kira reiterated this stance in a live program on ABEMA Prime on October 20. She also added, "The importance of protecting freedom of expression goes without saying, and the matter is not so simple that eliminating child porn would make sexual violence against children disappear. How to resolve this matter is something that should be discussed among citizens, including creators. On a practical level, I think that one way of doing things is to use zoning so that the material won't be seen by children or the general public. If people can reach a consensus on things like 'This kind of expression really is tasteless' or 'This won't yield a profit,' then all creators will stop making that kind of content."

Sources: ITMedia, Japanese Communist Party website, Abema Times

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