Tokyo: Mobile Sites, Downloads Not Subject to Youth Bill
posted on by Egan Loo
The Daily Gendai newspaper reported on Thursday that the recently passed amendment to the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance does not apply to electronic data that is viewed on mobile sites or downloaded. Under Bill 156, the industry will regulate "manga, anime, and other images" that "unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate" certain sexual or pseudo sexual acts from being sold or rented to people under the age of 18. The government can also directly regulate these images if the depicted acts are also "considered to be excessively disrupting of social order" such as rape.
The current ordinance already prevents the sale and renting of "harmful publications" — materials that are "sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior" to people under the age of 18. According to Daily Gendai's source at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office for Youth Affairs and Public Safety, the ordinance applies to "publications" such as books, CDs, and DVDs. On the other hand, electronic data that is viewed on mobile sites or can be downloaded are not subject to the ordinance's restrictions on "harmful" materials. The amendment does have separate clauses about Internet filtering on phones used by minors under the age of 18.
In a separate development, the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), an industry group of 59 Japanese animation studios and production companies, issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the amendment.
According to the AJA, the amendment's restrictions have major problems with regards to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan. Specifically, the AJA said that the scope of the materials covered by the amendment and the amendment's requirements are vague. Even though the amendment deals with the anime industry, the AJA did not receive prior notice or hearings on the matter and therefore did not receive due process. As a result, the AJA called the amendment "extremely regrettable."
In addition, the AJA noted that several groups such as the Comic 10-Shakai (an industry group of 10 manga publishers) have voiced opposition to the amendment. Comic 10-Shakai is boycotting next year's Tokyo International Anime Fair, which the AJA organizes. Shueisha will ask anime production companies to pull materials based on its works, and it is urging the other publishers to do the same.
The AJA said that the boycott will make it extremely difficult to maintain the event's quality. While the industry group is not in a position to decide whether to cancel the event, it described the current state of the event as "extremely unfeasible."
Update: Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Kodansha — the three biggest manga publishers in Japan — posted Comic 10-Shakai's joint statement on the bill and the Tokyo International Anime Fair last week. Source: Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history