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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Clarification on the so-called “pseudo sexual acts” of the Tokyo Youth Ordinance

Another short note which I hope will help turn attention away from the supposed “vagueness” of the language in the Tokyo Youth Ordinance, and back to the more important issue of the loss of trust in the Government that has resulted from their one-sided strong-arming of this issue.

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The term in the Ordinance that Dan Kanemitsu has translated as “pseudo sexual acts” (性交類似行為) has actually been debated by the government before. In my opinion, it would be better translated as “what appears to be sexual intercourse”. But this doesn’t exactly tell us very much in English or in Japanese, so what do they mean by it?

This question was answered at the 145th sitting of the Japanese Diet (1999, if I’m not mistaken), with regards to an earlier change in the law about child prostitution.

From here.

I’ll quote the relevant part of the discussion at the end of this post. I don’t have time to translate the whole thing at present, so just a quick summary and a few quotes. I’m going to use “actions that look like sexual acts” below, because that’s what fits better in the flow of the discussion.

Mr. Yukio EDANO (committee member)
[He notes that the term “actions that look like sexual acts” was heavily debated in study meetings, and that people who aren’t involved in law may get different ideas about what it means, so he’d like to explain.]

For example, when people wearing clothes normally kiss or hug, or linking arms as you might see on the sidewalks in the US, these don’t fall under the definition of “actions that look like sexual acts”.

Ms. Yoriko MADOKA (member of the house of Councilors)

I also don’t think that the examples that Mr. Edano just gave are “actions that look like sexual acts”.
(however), “actions that look like sexual acts” are those that, if you look carefully, appear to be (people having) sexual intercourse. As for what precisely comes under the definition, in the end, we have to look at each case when it comes up and judge it then. However, as I have just said, I recognise that the actions give by Mr. Edano are not “actions that look like sexual acts”.

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In summary, as far as I can ascertain, a simple kiss on the cheek or lips is NOT considered to be a sexual act, or rather, “sexual intercourse” (性交) as Bill 156 puts it. Unless the Government has changed the meaning of the term 「性交類似行為」 from what they defined 11 years ago. Sure, it’s still rather vague, and it does not excuse the Government from its ignorance of views and input from the industry, but given the political history of this term, I really think any opposition to Bill 156 should be focused on something else.

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The section summarised and translated above is as follows in Japanese:

枝野委員
それでは次に、この児童買春の性交等の中には「性交若しくは性交類似行為をし、」という言葉が入っております。この性交類似行為が勉強会でもさんざん議論になったわけでありますが、これが法律の中に書いてある場合と、一般的に法律を全く知らない人が性交類似行為と聞いた場合とでは、多分イメージも違うのではないだろうかな。私も、一応弁護士ではありますけれども、売春防止法とか余り知りませんでしたので、性交類似行為と今回の議論の中で初めて聞いて、あれと思いまして、なるほどなとも一方では思ったのですけれども、ちょっとこの解釈について確認をさせていただきたいと思います。
例えば、我々のような普通の服を着ていて普通にキスをしましたというような話とか、あるいは普通に服を着ている状態で抱擁をするとか、アメリカなんかでは道端でもするような抱擁をしましたというふうな話は性交類似行為には入らないというふうに考えておりますが、よろしいでしょうか。
円参議院議員
今枝野先生がおっしゃったようなケースは、私も性交類似行為には入らないと思っております。
ただ、性交類似行為とは、御案内のように、実質的に見て性交と同視し得る態様における性的な行為を申しております。何が性交類似行為に該当するかにつきましては、あくまでも具体的事案に即して判断されるべき事柄でありますが、今申しましたように、先生のような行為は性交類似行為には当たらないと存じます 。

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.