Protecting Youth and Regulating Speech, Battle Royale

Udo Helms ahura_matsda
Wed Jan 24 23:50:03 EST 2001

Aaron wrote:

What forces them to "participate" is not just the
>control over the industry by the major studios, but also the fact the
>national theatrical organization (forget the name now) has agreed that it 
>will not show any films not screened by Eirin.

The reason why Zenkouren - the National Theatre Association - obliges its 
members to screen Eirin-inspected films only is actually legal: the Kansei 
Eisei Hou ("Environment Protection Law") of 1957 obliges Zenkouren to do so, 
as a direct result of the Taiyouzoku-films scandal of 1956 - these 
"sun-group" films dealed with juvenile delinquency and rebellion in the 
aftermath of US films like "the Wild One" or "Rebel without a Cause". 
Curiously enough, the name-giving story "taiyou no kisetsu" (Season of the 
Sun) marked the literary debut of later LDP hardliner and present-day 
governor of Tokyo, Ishihara Shintarou. But that is of course an entirely 
different matter...

In this context, it is important that Eirin`s inspection is, while 
officially self-regulatory, legally inevitable due to the obligation of 
exhibitors to screen only Eirin-inspected films. The logic behind this is 
that production and distribution of films can be regarded as elements of a 
creative process, which enjoy the protection of freedom of expression 
granted by article 21 of the Japanese Constitution. Exhibition, however, 
marks the business side of the film industry, and therefore does not enjoy 
the same privilege. Therefore, it is in theory possible to produce any kind 
of film you want, as long as you can provide the means to do so. However, as 
soon as the film enters the public sphere, it is subject to the limitations 
of Eirin, the obscenity laws, and regulatory measures such as the law 
described above.

Udo Helms
Tokyo University
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