In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal examines the challenges faced by the recently delayed Non-existent Youth Bill in Japan, whereby any sexual scenarios featuring fictional characters deemed to appear under the age of 18 would have to be heavily “censored”.
The story points out that the Japan Book Publishers Association, established in 1957 to promote the development and growth of the publishing industry, seem rather confused as to the government’s intentions regarding the subject of censorship.
JPBA official, Tamio Kawamata, states that there are already ways for the government to mark books that are inappropriate for public consumption — that there is already a restriction on fictional material featuring themes of rape, for instance. The JPBA themselves have done their part to support this initiative, by asking that publishers voluntarily label unsuitable material as “not for minors” at their own risk.
Doing this would mean not being able to sell your books through the numerous Japanese convenience stores, which account for a large number of manga sales. The WSJ story reports that only 40% of manga and magazine sales take place in book stores.
Perhaps the most interesting reveal in the report, however, is that self-regulation has actually played a vital role in censorship these past seven years. Since 2004, after publishers increased self-regulation as part of a deal with local authorities, the number of “unwholesome” books has decreased from 124 books in fiscal 2003, to a mere 31 in 2009.
Image sourced from Tim Maughan Books.