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Manga Creator Ken Akamatsu Wins Seat in Japan's House of Councillors

posted on by Egan Loo
1st manga creator in Japan's legislature

Various Japanese media services projected on Sunday evening that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has won enough votes in the 26th House of Councillors election to secure a seat for manga creator Ken Akamatsu. In a Twitter post announcing the win, Ken Akamatsu noted that he will be the first manga creator in Japan's legislature. (Some novelists such as Grave of the Fireflies' Akiyuki Nosaka have previously been legislators.)

Akamatsu secured a seat in the proportional district of the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan's National Diet. Instead of representing a district linked to a specific local area, he will represent the LDP nationwide. He campaigned in person in all 47 prefectures of Japan.

Akamatsu announced his intention to run for the House of Councillors in December. He stated that his major goal is to protect the freedom of expression. He ended his UQ Holder! Magister Negi Magi! 2 manga in February during his campaign.

Akamatsu delved into politics in 2011 when he warned that proposed changes to Japan's Copyright Law would "destroy" derivative dōjin (self-published) works. Kensaku Fukui, a lawyer and a Nihon University professor, wrote an essay about the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) talks that prompted Akamatsu's remarks. Akamatsu continued to speak about his concerns on the TPP talks in the following years.

In 2013, Akamatsu joined other creators in opposing the LDP and its partners' proposed amendment to child pornography laws. According to the bill's opponents, the initial drafts did not differentiate between pornography featuring real children and images of children. Akamatsu visited the Diet and the LDP headquarters to express his concern, and the final bill passed in 2014 without a ban on explicit anime and manga.

In 2019, Akamatsu and the rest of the Japan Cartoonists Association formally expressed their concerns on a government subcommittee's plan to expand the scope of copyright law. Downloading anime images, illustrations, and photographs that are illegally posted to personal blogs and Twitter accounts would have also been illegal, as would copying and pasting song lyrics. The propposed change would not be limited to directly downloading images themselves — taking screenshots of illegally uploaded media would also be against the proposed new laws.

This year, Akamatsu characterized criticism from the global gender equality organization UN Women as "external pressure" to regulate Japan's "freedom of expression, especially for manga, anime, and games" and added that such pressure is not new. He elaborated that such regulations need to be approached with rationality and not be obeyed simply because an outside party is demanding it. Akamatsu's definition of "external pressure" does not necessarily mean "outside Japan." He used the removal of PSAs featuring Virtual YouTuber Tojou Linka as an example.

Akamatsu launched his J-Comi digital manga library service in 2008, and launched a beta test of the site in 2010. Akamatsu initially posted all 14 volumes of his Love Hina manga for free with six pages of advertising and no digital rights management (DRM) for one month to test the viability of the business model. Japanese publishers Shueisha and Kodansha began collaborating with the site in 2010.

The site gained notoriety in 2011 when it posted Seiji Matsuyama's Oku-sama wa Shōgakusei (My Wife Is an Elementary Student) manga, which Naoki Inose, Tokyo Vice Governor at the time, cited as an example of which manga should be restricted under Tokyo's then-recently revised Youth Healthy Development Ordinance. Though the site was only available in Japanese, it launched an English and foreign-language version beta test for select titles in 2011.

Akamatsu launched the UQ Holder! Magister Negi Magi! 2 manga with the title of UQ Holder! in Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine in Japan in August 2013. The manga transferred to Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine in October 2016, with the new title UQ Holder! Magister Negi Magi! 2, fully revealing the manga as a sequel to Akamatsu's earlier Negima! manga.

Tokyopop published Love Hina in North America, and Del Rey and Kodansha Comics have published Negima. Both manga and Akamatsu's Itsudatte My Santa manga inspired various anime projects, and Negima also inspired a live-action television series.

Update: National Diet reference corrected. Thanks, Brutannica.

Source: Comic Natalie


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