Tokyo to Outlaw Fictional Characters Breaking a Law?

It has been a while since I’ve written about so-called Tokyo Wholesome Youth Fostering Ordinance (青少年健全育成条例) earlier in the year. So what’s happened with it?

Adaptation of this ordinance has been indefinitely deferred, but not surprisingly, they are still pursuing this, even with stricter control.

They are seeking new ordinance to cover, any act of sexual behavior in fiction, regardless of their age, that would break a law. (Again, please note, that this ordinance is specifically talking about such activities expressed in fiction and not real life.) It even doesn’t have to be explicit — if Tokyo somehow define some work indecent, even ambiguous, they could classify them as “inappropriate.”

As with past authors from various media are already standing up to oppose this. This could be death of anime and manga, people. Especially if you are into moe stuff!

Sakuranbo Elementary School Fiasco

Sakuranbo, a Japanese word for cherry, sounds quite innocent. Probably so if you stick that as name of the elementary school, well, unless it was already being used by mature themed sexual game (eroge) group.

Here’s what happened. In Higashine city in Yamagata prefecture, there is new elementary school being built. Since Higashine city is known for its cherry produce, they are pushing to name many of their city features with name of cherry — and it is now natural for the city to try to follow that trend with their newly building elementary school.

While they were searching for possible overlap, they seems to have done many kind of checking, but one very simple thing — searching on the Internet.

Searching for Sakuranbo Elementary School (さくらんぼ小学校) on Google and other search engine reveals that this name already is being used as branding for mature game. The city was notified by residents about this problem. Mayor of the city, Seigo Tsuchida, initially responded their lack of intension to reconsider its name, with reason “by changing the name, we are approving mature games.”

For the meantime, Sakuranbo Elementary School, the mature game group, announced on their webpage, about their willingness of cooperate with school by changing the name of the group if necessary.

Later, the city reversed its decision of not changing the name, with mayor’s statement that “I feel like I was struck by a car.”

Analyzing the whole situation, this situation well could be prevented by the city conducting simple search on the Internet. Sakuranbo Elementary School, the mature game brand, has been in its existence for 8 years since 2002, and search would easily reveal existence of the group. It’s city’s sole responsibility to make sure their branding is not overlapping with existing entities.

Legally, anyone who knowing something about trademark would see that they aren’t in infringement to each other, as they are in different class. Therefore, the city should be legally clear to open up their new elementary school in that name. This only got problem because the group was offering mature products.

The group’s offer of changing their branding is extraordinary, considering they are legally not required to.

The city, in other hand is under big fire, possibly perpetual for years to come. Apparently, the mayor of the city has received message from his staff by this problem — with no luck persuading the mayor.

It is worthwhile to note that for past 10 years, the mayor, Seigo Tsuchida was reelected without contests 4 times. Perhaps lack of residents’ interests choosing proper leader might have also contributed this problem.

Borrowing Tsuchida’s word, no car was there to struck the city, it was city rammed into the wall.

TWYFO and Anti-Otaku Politics

The word Otaku is Japanese word is equivalent to nerd in Japanese.

Although, the word Otaku often carries not negative, and even positive elements in many countries, this word tend to be negative when it is used in Japan. The attempt to laws like Tokyo’s recent audience can be also observed as anti-otaku movement.

It is highly speculated these movements are nothing more than discrimination against Otakus as well as people who are into Akihabara cultures. In fact Governor Ishihara of Tokyo prefecture did openly stated that “it is responsibility of government to regulate Kimo-Ota (Disgusting-Otaku) who are pervert likes non-wholesome works.”

The reason currently proposed regulation like TWYFO is highly controversial as this can be arbitrarily enforced to suppress what they define Kimo-Ota.

While decision of adopting this ordinance has been deferred for mean time, Japan Pen Club, the group of about 100 book publishers joined in a force of opposing this ordinance.

Can we really do nothing to protest against TWYFO?

Currently, Minsyuto (Japanese Democratic Party) is a ruling party in Japan. Perhaps we should be expressing our appreciation to diversity of Japanese works.

On Japanese Democratic Party website, there is a comment form, which you can fill out to express your opinion. While I’m not sure how English page will be received by them, some comments would at least let them know there are people outside of Japan who care about cultures in Japan. Do try your best Japanese, but unless you are nearly perfect in Japanese, I’d also recommend writing in English as well.