If you may recall, we reported on the United Nations discussing the possible banning of games and manga that depict sexual violence against women, in Japan.
Now, Kumiko Yamada, representative of the Japanese wing of the Women’s Institute Of Contemporary Media Culture, has responded to this, and she had quite a bit to say regarding the subject.
Her response (Editor’s Note: first translated by reddit user RyanoftheStars; we’ve verified the translation’s accuracy) can be found below:
We are absolutely in agreement that the protection of the rights of women in Japan is important. On the other hand, we think it should be carefully and seriously evaluated whether the measures taken to ensure those protections are valid ones or not. If we are asked to consider whether “Protecting Women’s Rights in Japan” requires us to “Ban the Sale of Manga and Video Games Depicting Sexual Violence,” then we must reply that that is an absolute “no.”
Reasons for Our Opinion:
Reason #1 – The so-called sexual violence in manga and video games is a made-up thing and as such does not threaten the rights of actual people; therefore, it is meaningless in protecting the rights of women.
Reason #2 – In Japan, and especially when it comes to manga, these are creative fields that women themselves cultivated and worked hard by their own hand to create careers for themselves. If we were to “ban the sale of manga that includes sexual violence,” it would do the opposite and instead create a new avenue of sexism toward women.
Detailed Explanation of Reasons:
About Reason #1 – It goes without saying that the rape and other crimes of actual real people who experience sexual acts from partners without consent is an actual violation of their rights concerning sexual violence and should obviously be forbidden by law, and that it’s necessary to protect and support victims. However, the figures in manga and video games are creative fictions that do not actually exist, and thus this is not a violation of any real person’s human rights. We should focus on attacking the problems that affect real women’s human rights as quickly as possible.
About Reason #2 – In Japan, and especially when it comes to manga, these are creative fields that women themselves cultivated and worked hard by their own hand to create careers for themselves.Already in the 70s there were women-focused manga magazines and many talented women manga writers came from them.In this way, before the Equal Opportunity Employment Act for Men and Women passed in 1986, there was already a space where women flourished and had established the “shoujo manga” genre. And of course, within women’s manga, sometimes the topic was of romance and sex […] In this way, it can be predicted that if we were to ban the sale of “manga that depicts sexual violence,” a great deal of publishers would cease publication of a huge amount of works. In the creative field of manga, the effect would be that women who have worked so hard to create a place for vibrant careers would have that place shrink right in front of them, as well as have their efforts negated. In addition, if we were to put ourselves in the places of manga readers the chance to know about the history of the sexual exploitation of women would be lost and method for them to come to know about it. If the creative fields of manga were attacked, trampled on and destroyed with such prejudice, it would damage not only the women manga writers, but also spread to other women creators in the field, as well as the female readers. This would be a sexist punishment that only narrows the career possibilities of Japan’s women
As stated above, we cannot say that banning the sale of manga and video games that “depict sexual violence” is valid, even if we were to agree that the goal of protecting the rights of women is correct.
There is nothing to be gained from regulating fictional sexual violence. However, while you’re trying to fix the rights of fictional characters, you’re leaving the human rights of real women in the real world left to rot. As well, in Japan, the entire reason we have a media genre such as manga that developed to take on themes such as the sexual exploitation of women came from an attitude to tolerate “drinking the pure and the dirty without prejudice.” It’s because we had the freedom to express our views and with that to express the view of a world of humans that live and die, that there are pure and wonderful things and dirty and nasty things mixed with each other.
Manga is a field where women have put in their hard work and effort to cut forward paths and cultivate a place of their own. We believe that in order to protect this place from being trampled on, it will need our continued hard work to pass it on to the next generation, and it is this effort that will link to the greater freedom and rights of women.