Ken Akamatsu warns of “international pressure” censoring manga

Ken Akamatsu, the first-ever mangaka in Japanese Parliament, has again reiterated his stance that the threat of censorship to Japanese manga comes from foreign international pressure.

Known for creating works such as Negima! and UQ Holder, Ken Akamatsu expressed an interest in protecting manga and anime from censorship, and has successfully become a member of Japan’s parliament to accomplish this task.

In a recent interview, Akamatsu reiterated his stance that international pressure is the source of the problems regarding freedom of expression in manga.

Here’s the important translated parts of the interview:

Protecting the freedom of expression was also part of your campaign pledge when running for your position.

Akamatsu: Right. You can tell from incidents like last year’s case where an international women’s entity complained about an ad on The Nikkei that we are in an age where pressure on restrictions on freedom of expression comes from overseas as well, so we must take measures in order to deal with this threat.

Currently, there is only a very low possibility that national law restricting expression will be passed. However, if international agreements to that sort of effect are passed, then national law will have to be changed to fit with the agreement, so we must avoid this scenario from ever happening.

There’s an additional conversation from Akamatsu on AI art:

In recent years, illustrations using AI art have seen a massive increase. Will there be any problems with freedom of expression or copyright?

Akamatsu: Regarding AI art, currently what is being discussed is the ‘transparency of the data learnset’. In order to create AI art, billions of existing art needs to be learnt from, and there have been criticism that copyright holders have not given permission in many cases, making it illegal.

However, having AI learn illustration is not illegal – the term ‘illegally learning’ is wrong from the start.

For me, having profit from the commercial use AI illustrations be given to the creators used as part of the data set is the favorable outcome.

Considering how many billions of illustrations are used, splitting profits easily is impossible, so the creation of some sort of management institution like JASRAC for music, or some sort of fund to bring profit back to the industry is a more realistic method.

Or, selling image generation AI that has finished training can also be considered […] That way, AI other than officially sold versions can be treated as ‘pirated versions’, giving back some amount of control. This way, creators used as the data set can also directly earn back profit too.


There are some people who might say that ‘AI has gotten to the point where it can draw better illustrations than me’, but look at the world of chess. AI has been stronger at chess than humans for quite some time, but many people still enjoy it.

For the world of comics, I hope people can remember the joy of the act of drawing itself.

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