Protecting Youth and Regulating Speech

Don Brown the8thsamurai
Fri Jan 19 02:28:26 EST 2001

>While the bill, being formulated by LDP members of the upper house, but
>also essentially supported by many Democratic Party members who are
>creating their own bill, will reportedly take the so-called "harmful
>book" (????) bylaws held by many local governments and make them
>national, as well as expand them to other media.  The "harmful book"
>bylaws have been around for some time, and were mostly introduced to
>regulate comics, pornography and other publications by designating
>certain ones "harmful" and restricting their sale.  Similar bylaws for
>film exist in some localities which, while not always designating the
>film harmful, restrict the content of posters, publicity stills, and
>sometimes even the titles of movies shown at theaters by designating them
>"harmful" (the rise of such bylaws became a big issue in the industry in
>the 1970s).

Perhaps some of you can enlighten me on this one: just where do the 
Japanese censorship laws begin and end?  I'm not familiar with the current 
legislation, which seems to restrict access to certain materials, and then 
on the other hand take a completely laissez-faire approach.  For example, 
genital exposure in film or print is met with mosaics and black dots, but 
on the other hand porn videos and comics featuring simulated rape are in 
common circulation.  Plus, despite restricting the sale and rental of 
pornography, it's still possible for some curious kid to purchase a stroke 
film or mag (as well as booze and cigarettes) from their friendly 
neighbourhood vending machine.  I'm not saying anything new by calling it 
hypocritical and contradictory.  My main question is, why does Japan have 
such scatter-shot policies regarding censorship?  Obviously, the 
politicians are pushing the current bill to milk the Battle Royale 
controversy and the furore over youth crime, but it is certainly a 
hypocritical and inconsistent move when considering the far more 
"objectionable" materials in legal(?) circulation.  I remember reading 
about child porn legislation finally being ratified by the Diet a few years 
ago, but this is about the extent of my knowledge on the subject.  Anyone?
Don Brown
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