Japan's manga artists angry over sex and violence ban
Some of Japan's leading "manga" artists have voiced their opposition to a government proposal to outlaw sex and violence in children's comics and impose an age limit on anyone buying sexually explicit manga.
'Tomorrow's Joe' drawn by Tetsuya Chiba
By Julian Ryall in Tokyo 7:00AM GMT 16 Mar 2010
Headed by such well-known figures in the industry as Fujiko Fujio A, the creator of Hattori the Ninja and the Laughing Salesman, and Tetsuya Chiba, who draws the "Tomorrow's Joe" manga, the artists told reporters in Tokyo that the law would affect their freedom of expression.
Machiko Satonaka, another manga artist, said that the proposed legislation, created by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, "pertains to freedom of expression and is open to a variety of interpretations."
She added that she was "horrified" that the city government was planning to regulate comic characters because "no one is actually being harmed."
The city assembly, which will vote on the proposed law on Friday, wants to restrict comics and animated images that contain sexually provocative depictions of "nonexistent minors" - an ambiguous concept that is taken to mean characters that people could reasonably assume to be minors, based on their appearances.
The new law would require the manga and animation industry not to sell works that depict sexual situations involving minors while also identifying works that depict rape and other violence as "harmful materials" and restrict minors' access to such comics.
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If the law is passed it would be limited to Tokyo, which has vowed to carry out a crackdown on child pornography.
Magazines with images of children as young as four wearing bikinis and provocatively licking ice creams are available at convenience stores.
The traditional manga industry has experienced a slump in recent years here as people turn to accessing images on their mobile phones and computers - which would also be subject to the ban - and critics say it would be virtually impossible to police the law. They also say authorities should be doing more to stamp out actual child pornography in Japan.
That will cut little ice with Shintaro Ishihara, the hard-line mayor of Tokyo, who is expected to support the legislation.
But the manga artists say the consumer should be given the choice of what he or she wants to read.
"I have seen cases of our culture losing power because of regulations," artist Tetsuya Chiba said in a speech to politicians. "We want readers to decide."