The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has released plans for promoting gender equality, drawing concerns of censorship of anime and manga.
As reported by J-List, the “Comprehensive Plan For the Promotion of Gender Equality” was presented earlier this week, after a consultation phase concerning its contents concluded on November 16th. Ultimately, the stated goal of the plan is to eliminate “all forms of violence” between men and women.
However, outspoken manga creator Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina, Negima, UQ Holder) has expressed concerns over the documents vague definitions, and potential chilling effects on free expression. This includes the “international perspective on sexual and violent expression,” and the “freedom not to be exposed to offensive expressions” from media in public spaces.
— 赤松 健 (@KenAkamatsu) November 8, 2021
“A draft revision of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Comprehensive Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality.
It mentions the ‘freedom not to be exposed to offensive expressions’ in mass media and public spaces, which scares me as a creator. This means I can’t draw anything in Tokyo! This is a gross disregard for freedom of expression.
The ‘international perspective on sexual and violent expression’ is also too vague, and this will lead to the decline of Japanese culture.”
Akamatsu’s largest concerns come from the plan’s aforementioned “international perspective on sexual and violent expression;” meaning that those following these guidelines could subject themselves to Western standards of acceptable content. As things stand right now, this plan exists as, and remains, as mere suggestions which haven’t been codified in Japanese law.
This is the third time Akamatsu has expressed his concerns over cenrsorship of anime and manga. In June 2020 he stated his worries over manga being “regulated by overseas standards,” while praising Japan’s “freedom of expression.” These comments came after speaking to the Japanese Diet; Japan’s legislature.
In June 2021 Akamatsu spoke at an online conference; saying how “if you don’t go abroad, [the political correctness] problem isn’t a battle at all.” He also stated his own belief that series that sold themselves as politically correct would not sell much.
Last month, the Japanese Communist Party came under fire for similar statements in their party’s official platform. After criticism however, the JCP quickly claimed that their intention is not to make any legal changes to free expression; instead dedicating themselves to creating a cultural shift away from such content.