Norwegian Wood (ノルウェイの森): my first taste of Murakami on film

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…
She showed me her room, isn’t it good, Norwegian wood?”

Norwegian Wood. Named after the Beatles song released in the 1960s. That’s also when the story is set, at the start of the Vietnam war, with the Japanese public up in arms over Okinawa being used as a base from which American forces were being launched. (It wasn’t subbed, but you could hear the protesters yelling something like “return Okinawa!” in the background.) But in the middle of all that upheaval, ‘ordinary’ people just kept trying to cope with life and love. And for Watanabe and Naoko, with heartbreak and death.

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In memory of 2010 finale: the Anime/Game/Manga industry vs. the Tokyo Government

Although Bill 156 was only passed in December, the battle has actually been going on for the better part of a year, if not longer. Respected long-time translator Dan Kanemitsu even opened a wordpress blog in order to share his research, views and reactions to the developments in Tokyo.

Really people, it’s not the end of the world.

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The Tokyo Youth Ordinance discrimates against homosexual activity?

I’ll expand on this once I’m through with the other posts and research I have to do, but from some comments I’ve read in various places, I think there may be a slight a misconception of the following section of the Tokyo Youth Ordinance.

From Dan Kanemitsu’s blog:

“Any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, or sexual or pseudo sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity.”

Mr. Kanemitsu followed up with a post on what constitutes an illegal marriage in Japan, noting in particular that marriage to “ANYONE OF THE SAME SEX” is also illegal.

Some people seem to be taking this as an indication that this law points to discrimination against homosexuals – perhaps because they assume incest should be covered under the “illegal in real life” phrase? Actually,

Incest is not illegal in Japan.

From wikipedia:

現在日本には近親者同士の合意に基づく性的関係についての規定はない。強姦の場合は強姦罪、子供の場合は児童虐待防止法などの法律で対処する。日本の法律では直系 の血族と、傍 系の血族で三親等以内の人との結婚が禁止されている(民法第734条および第740条)。たとえば、自分自身の兄弟姉妹との関係は、直系ではなく傍系ということになる。法律的には、甥・姪の子どもやい とこは傍系4 親等で結婚可能。

In Japan today, there are no provisions against incest as long as the parties concerned consent to the relationship. If rape is involved, it’s treated as a rape crime; if children are involved, it’s dealt with using anti-child abuse laws. Under Japanese law, marriage is not allowed between blood relations that are related in a direct line or within three degrees for collateral relations (c.f. provisions no. 734 and 740 of the civil code). For example, you and your own siblings are related collaterally, not linearly. By law, you can marry the children of your nephews and nieces, or your cousins etc because they are fourth degree relations.

In my opinion, the second phrase of “between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal” is there only because incestuous acts themselves aren’t illegal. Now, perhaps we’ll disagree about the extent to which depictions of incest should be accessible to minors (I certainly hope works like Koi Kaze and other works that provoke social commentary of incest won’t be affected), but I personally don’t think that the wording is an attack, hidden or otherwise, on homosexuality.

No matter what Governor Ishihara’s opinions about homosexuality are.

And yet another perspective

Edit: pls start here.

It’s just not about you, by gottsuiiyan.

He actually wrote this piece in response to the first bill, but it’s still highly relevant to the revision that was recently voted in as law. It’s brash, in-your-face, and demands that you accept a side of Japan that (most of) you probably don’t want to admit exists. But pray don’t let that put you off, unless you want to keep mouthing off the people who support the Tokyo Youth Ordinance on the basis of the imaginary Japan you love so much.

Crying “freedom of expression” won’t help

I have barely touched the surface of the Tokyo Youth Ordinance, but would like, for the moment, to emphasise the following:

Harping on about the right of freedom of expression accomplishes nothing.

Yes, Governor Ishihara’s stance and attitude have been far to extreme and forceful. He and the TMA may also be guilty of discriminating against the manga, anime and games industries. Furthermore, the manner in which they have strong-armed this law into existence paints them as politicians and policy makers whom we cannot trust.

However, rather than trying to argue that novels and film should be included under the bill, or harping on about how untrustworthy they are – true as that may be – we need to recognise that there are legitimate issues that need to be addressed. That is to say, we should acknowledge the existence of unrestricted titles that should be restricted and do something about them.

Though it may not appear to be the case, supporters of the new law aren’t (just) basing their opinions on works that don’t exist. Titles that definitely need to be restricted do exist. Do you know of any?

Try “Teacher’s Pet” (先生のお気に入り!), which was published in a magazine directed at middle and high school girls (ages 12-18) and is currently available on amazon.

Written by Aihara Miki, this manga depicts a young female teacher being raped by one of her students (also the younger brother of her boyfriend)…but she ends up falling in love with him… Now, my problem with this title isn’t the sex scenes (which aren’t particularly explicit), but rather the fact that a so-called “loving relationship” develops from a rape.

I’ll leave you to reach your own conclusion about the themes and values that this manga seems to espouse.

My point, which I’ve already posted elsewhere, is this:

The law has been passed. Much as we’d like to criticise the Tokyo government for forcing the issue through without any input from the industry, I think that we too have to recognise that it came about because of legitimate issues. It’s now up to the industry (and by extension, the fans) to show that it can respond in a responsible and reasonable manner.

On the Tokyo Youth Ordinance (Bill 156)

I’m sure everyone has heard about this already. From ANN:

Full Tokyo Assembly Passes Youth Ordinance Bill

Having let it pass me by ever since the full details of the bill appeared late last month, I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading over the last few days. But the reaction on many forums, news sites and blogs over the last few days suggest that most people haven’t. This is rather unfortunate, as Dan Kanemitsu notes, for misinformed coverage and uninformed rants will only provide fuel to the people behind this law, potentially enabling Governor Ishihara to push his agenda further than it should go.

I have yet to organise everything I’ve learned about the situation, but for the moment, I suggest the following starting points:

For readers of Japanese:

AX Live 39 is also somewhat balanced and briefly mentions one of the main reasons WHY this law has been passed (~20 mins in “there is stuff out there…like dangerous rape…excessive violence”), but please note that it is NOT a ban. It is a law calling for regulation, and what is worrying most commentators is that the wording MAY give Tokyo leeway to expand its scope to anything they disagree with. As such, Governor Ishihara’s often discriminatory attitude gives great cause for concern.

A lot of my sources and quotes will probably come from Dan Kanemitsu’s blog. For those who don’t know, he is a respected translator working in the anime/manga industry. However, I will also attempt to find and, if necessary, translate other points of view, as far as I am able.

Of course, you don’t have to take my point of view. All I ask is that you try to understand the background and implications of the situation, and be reasonable about your own response.