The History of Manga Regulation in Japan


I am sure you are tired of five pages of text. To wrap up, here, I am going to talk about the 1980s and beyond all at once. This was a turbulent time for otaku (おたく). First, the word "otaku" was coined. Second, Osamu Tezuka has died. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but his passion for manga never went away, and it is said that his last words were "Please, let me work!". And while he was battling his illness, a terrible murder was taking place.

To hell with political correctness

It is called the "Tokyo-Saitama Serial Kidnapping and Murder of Young Girls (東京・埼玉連続幼女誘拐殺人事件)", in which a man named Tsutomu Miyazaki (宮崎勤) kidnapped, raped, and murdered four little girls one after another. This horrible incident was reported daily, and it is said that many Japanese people became aware of the existence of pedophiles because of it. Before that, there have been many cases of rape and murder of young girls, most notably the rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl in Okinawa, but if the U.S. soldier was the culprit, the information would be controlled. Many Japanese may not have known about this incident also for a long time because Okinawa was under the occupation of the U.S. at that time. Well, Miyazaki, like other thugs, will be in a position to have the mass media write about him, one way or another, and his parents' house is also flooded with reporters.

Miyazaki's father was asked by the mass media to show them Tsutomu's room, and he agreed. The father initially believed in his son's innocence, and the father seemed to want to prove that there was nothing in his son's room that could be used to commit a crime. But it had the opposite effect. Miyazaki's room was crammed with VHSs all over the walls, and books or magazines piled up on the floor. At the top of the stack of books was an adult manga, and the mass media used this as the basis for reporting that all the VHSs and books in the room were full of manga, anime, tokusatsu, horror films, and other otaku stuff. This led the mass media to discover the term "otaku", which was proposed by magazine editor Akio Nakamori in Manga Burikko (漫画ブリッコ), 6 years before the incident. The following is a translation of some of the text from the magazine at the time.

A guy who waits in line the day before an anime film opens, a guy who tries to take a picture of a Blue Train with prized camera and almost gets run over on the tracks, a guy that has a bookshelf full of back issues of SF magazine and Hayakawa's gold spine and silver spine SF series, a science boy with milk bottle bottom glasses hanging out at a microcomputer store, a guy who goes to an idol celebrity's autograph session early in the morning to secure a spot, a boy who goes to a famous prep school, but if he doesn't study, he's just a sardine-eyed fool who timid, a brother who is very particular about audio and etc.


So, well, there's a little reason, we named them OTAKU and decided to call them that from now on.

『おたく』の研究 第1回 | 漫画ブリッコの世界

Manga Burikko in which this text was published was a adult manga magazine and it was an attack on its own kind, so to speak. The magazine had already been discontinued by 1988 when the incident occurred, but it seems that the term had been used continuously in a self-mocking manner among otaku, and that's how it was discovered by the mass media. Even among otaku, opinions are divided as to the extent to which otaku were persecuted by this. But, it is clear that the mass media was bashing otaku, and you can easily find articles bashing otaku from that time on the Internet. And of course, the trend was towards the regulation of manga and anime. One of the most famous manga targeted at this time was ANGEL by U-Jin (遊人), serialized in Weekly Young Sunday (週刊ヤングサンデー) and Ikenai!Runa-sensei (いけない!ルナ先生) by Sumiko Kamimura (上村純子), serialized in Monthly Shonen Magazine (月刊少年マガジン), and both of which were response to criticism, the publisher recalled the manga and it went out of print.

Furthermore, in 1991, an eroge software for PC, Saori (沙織 -美少女達の館-) was shoplifted by junior high school students triggered the game was bashed for "caused junior high school students to become delinquents" and the president of the publisher was arrested for distributing obscene materials (Japanese Penal Code, Article 175). In the wake of this incident, several eroge software companies were forced to suspend sales or modify their software, and Ethics Organization of Computer Software (コンピュータソフトウェア倫理機構), a self-regulatory organization for adult game software, was established. The theory that eroge made people shoplift seems absurd at first glance, and indeed it is absurd, but 11 years after this, the same kind of incident happen again.

In 2002, the author of the hentai manga Misshitsu (蜜室) and the president of the publisher, Shobunkan (松文館), were arrested on the grounds of the aforementioned Article 175. The reason for their arrest was that the high school-aged son of a man who was a supporter of politician Katsuei Hirasawa (平沢勝栄) was in possession of the magazine in which Misshitsu was published, Hime Dorobō (姫盗人). In the trial of Misshitsu, the prosecutor, when asked by the defense attorney "Why did you pick up a single work Misshitsu instead of a magazine Hime Dorobō", vague replied, "Because of the letter" and "Because it was more realistic than other works". In short, just as in the case of Saori, there was no clear reason for the crackdown, and It just happened to catch the attention of the restrictionists.

In this trial, several witnesses gathered to defend the defendant, and among them was Tetsuya Chiba (ちばてつや). Chiba is a mangaka known for Ashita no Joe (あしたのジョー), which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine from 1968 to 1973, and is said to have been more successful than Osamu Tezuka in its heyday, and Rumiko Takahashi and Gōshō Aoyama (青山剛昌. Author of Detective Conan / 名探偵コナン) also profess to be big fans of his. What Chiba said at the trial was, roughly speaking "This manga was released for an adult audience with adequate zoning, and I do not see a problem with that. Also, nudity is a fundamental part of drawing human beings, and for the sake of improving technique, it is necessary to draw people hugging each other. If the law is clamped down on the grounds that it is realistic, the range of expression may be narrowed. Private citizens are free to view expression as a problem, but cracking down on it by law cannot be overlooked".

When the Miyazaki case led to increased restrictions on manga, Chiba drew a manga criticizing the restrictions. When asked by the defense attorney why he drew it, Chiba recounted his childhood experiences.

I was born in Showa 14 (1939), so I was a child for most of the time before and after the war. But, the existence of the military police is still burned into my mind, and I cannot forget it. It was very scary. The military police did various things in various places... well, I guess there were some rules, but they stopped and punished at their discretion. Later, when I was growing up I found out, the military police would censor newspapers before they are published and disallow expressions based on their standards, such as this article is okay, this article is not okay because it insults the military, and so on. In this way, the Japanese people were blinded and deafened, and gradually led into war, so I feel a great deal of fear.


I have already written about the "various things” that the military police did on page 1, using Norakuro, Machiko Hasegawa, Doraemon, and Osamu Tezuka as examples. They restricted anything that even slightly offended them, who disobeyed them "unpatriotic" and blamed them, they violated people, sometimes to the point of death, the people were so afraid of them that they stopped speaking out against them, gradually begin to sympathize with them, and act just like them... It was a time reminiscent of the U.S. in 2020, where anyone who questioned BLM in any way would be called a racist, lose their job, or worse, be killed. In other words, people who knew Japan at that time feel that if the people had more freedom, they could have avoided the runaway of Japan. That is why Japanese creators are basically against restrictions on expression. Chiba said at the trial that he personally did not like Misshitsu and would not want to show it to his children, but he still went to court as a witness because of this sense of crisis.

This idea took root because the world asked Japan to reflect on its war crimes, why, of all people, is the U.S. and the U.K. complaining about Japanese expressions? Cuz Isn't that crazy? Why do you say that Japan should apologize to people of Asia, but ignore the discrimination against Asians that is happening in your country? Why do you guys keep asking Japan to improve women's rights, but ignore the crimes of the U.S. soldiers in Japan? Why are you guys doing the same thing like the Empire of Japan, which you treat as a diabolical person? After all, you're just conveniently using Asia as an excuse for your war crimes and post-war crimes, are not you? The remorse you're asking for is really just not to go against the U.S., the U.K., and the West, is not it? The diversity in Japan that you want is to make Japan a country of blacks and whites, and for yellows to leave, right?

In the first trial, they was sentenced to one year in prison and three years of probation, but the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to a fine. The sentence was reduced, but in the end they was convicted, so those who learned of this must have remained somewhat wary. Then, in 2010, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government submitted a proposal to revise "fukenzen Tosho (不健全図書. directly translates to "unsound book", the same system as the yūgai tosho system described on page 2)". To summarize, the amendment could be interpreted to mean that depictions of sexual acts between students in manga and anime could be punishable. A group of mangakas with a sense of crisis expressed their opposition and collected signatures. The following are the signatures.

Tap or click to enlarge

The number of people was small because it was collected on an emergency basis, but if there had been more time, more mangakas would have expressed their support. This is because, as I have explained at length here, the history of manga and anime is almost directly the history of Japan's fight against restrictions on expression. And I think we should not forget that the fight was not only with the government, but also the mass media. The mass media deceived the people before and during the war as the government's right hand man, but after the war, they have continued to deceive the people of their own volition while acting as if they have parted ways with them.

An actual example of this is the Miyazaki case described at the beginning of this page. At the time, I wrote about how the bashing of otaku started after a report about Miyazaki's room, but there is more to this story. In 2005, Tōru Kimura (木村透), a newspaper reporter who was a party to the interview, talked about that time on the newspaper's official blog. He was the first person to enter assailant's room among the reporters gathered at Miyazaki's parents' house. The following is a translation of that blog.

I will never forget when I stepped into that room. There were no windows, it was dimly lit, and all four walls were covered with VHS. I remember that there were 3 or 4 TVs and VCRs there. I had never seen a room like that before. It was just INCOMPREHENSIBLE.

Perhaps those of you who remember the images of that room think that those VHSs are all adult, voyeuristic, loli, and that sort of thing.

Actually, it is not.

I hurried to capture the VHS titles on our cameras, but most of them were very ordinary cartoons like Otoko Doahō Kōshien (男どアホウ甲子園) and Dokaben (ドカベン). Some of them were horrible VHS, but at least that was a small part of it.

There is a reason why such an image has been conveyed.

In the corner of the room, there was a pile of dozens of magazines. I checked what kind of magazines they were, of course. Most of them were GORO and Scola (スコラ). These are quite normal for a man in his twenties.

In it, one of the manga was called Wakaokusama no Namashitagi (若奥様のナマ下着. It is directly translates to Young Wife's Raw Underwear). A commercial TV camera crew pulled it out, and placed it at the top of a stack of magazines and took a picture. This led to it created a false image that all those piles of magazines, and even most of the VHS, were of that kind.

Well, considering the crimes he's committed, he might as well be misunderstood that much, but it was still not true.

【宮崎勤事件】読売新聞記者による"真相"告白 - M.I.T.B. 漫画・アニメ・ゲーム・映画の表現規制問題

The confession of the fake report and the article reopening the story naturally caused a firestorm, but since it was a time when the Internet had not yet had a significant impact, the newspaper only deleted the article and did not apologize or explain. It seems that this reporter was not punished in any particular way, and after continuing to work as a reporter, he became the president of a company that was acquired by this newspaper, and has recently retired. As a side note, the father who showed his son's room to the reporters later committed suicide.

In 2020, I learned the hard way that Japan is not the only country with such irresponsible media. How much Japan has thought about racism through mixed-race children, and how it has been reflected in anime, manga, and other creative works, you guys ignore all of that history, and even go so far as to treat mixed-race children as if they were the perpetrators of discrimination, you guys act as if to say that the Japanese is a third-class lower class people and we smart Westerners - blacks and whites - should educate the Japanese. I'm sick of that.

I always thought that Japan was full of flaws and that there were things we could learn from abroad, but looking at you guys, I'm starting to think that Japan is much better. In fact, even the BLM says Japan is safer than the U.S. How long are you going to evade reality? Just you have to admit that. You are the ones who have been discriminating against blacks and whites the most in Japan. The only reason Japan has been trying to be "a safer country than the U.S." is so that the mixed-race children you've been throwing away like trash won't be put in an unreasonable position, It's not to get a bastard like BLM on a roll.

You know that last year there was a black guy who said, "The Japanese are neutered because they dropped the atomic bomb on us and they don't throw Molotov cocktails". Okay, okay. The Japanese who thought that the mixed-race children were innocent were totally wrong. I'll change my mind from now on. To hell with political correctness. These Western bastards used the atomic bombings as a sermon to the Japanese people and ignore the crimes of U.S. military in Japan, I'll not let such people destroy Japanese culture.

Machiko Hasegawa and her sister are a strafing run by a U.S. military aircraft while shopping

Machiko Hasegawa and her sister are a strafing run by a U.S. military aircraft while shopping
© 1998 Hasegawa Machiko Art Museum

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