December 16, 2010

Japan tries to restrict adult-oriented manga

Filed under: Economics, Japan, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:51

Having solved all other problems, the Japanese government is now attempting to impose stricter controls on the thriving Manga book industry:

A battle has erupted between the normally placid manga community and Tokyo’s conservative governor over a new law that heavily restricts sales in the city of manga comic books with what the ordinance calls “extreme” depictions of sex.

The brouhaha has become so big that even Prime Minister Naoto Kan is attempting to bridge the divide between the industry, producer of one of Japan’s most cherished cultural exports, and Tokyo’s metropolitan government. A group of manga artists and publishers has said it will boycott Tokyo’s massive International Anime Fair in March.

That threat could hobble sales of the country’s beloved comic books. As Japan’s economic star continues to be eclipsed by China, cultural exports remain one of Japan’s few globally robust sectors.

Of course, there’s more to the story than the headlines indicate, as not all manga produced finds markets overseas:

The vast majority of manga in Japan aren’t pornographic, with internationally known titles such as “Dragon Ball,” “Naruto” and “Sailor Moon” attracting global readers of all ages.

But what sets Japan apart from much of the West is that here it is considered socially acceptable to read manga depicting sexually explicit acts. It is common to sit next to a suit-wearing Japanese commuter who is nonchalantly paging through cartoon sex scenes. Pornographic magazines with women dressed as Japanese schoolgirls on the cover are available at convenience stores around Tokyo, without anything obscuring the cover.

The only concession is that such publications are labeled “adult-only” and sealed shut, preventing browsers from peeking inside.

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