True Morality and False Security
Thought Police Can't Protect Real Children
Dan Kanemitsu


The [National Commission on Obscenity and Pornography] recognizes and believes that the existence of sound moral standards is of vital importance to individuals and to society. To be effective and meaningful, however, these standards must be based upon deep personal commitment flowing from values instilled in the home, in educational and religious training, and through individual resolutions of personal confrontations with human experience. Governmental regulation of moral choice can deprive the individual of the responsibility for personal decision which is essential to the formation of genuine moral standards. Such regulation would also tend to establish an official moral orthodoxy, contrary to our most fundamental constitutional traditions.

Therefore, the Commission recommends the repeal of existing federal legislation which prohibits or interferes with consensual distribution of "obscene" material to adults.

Excerpt from the final report by the US National Commission on Obscenity and Pornography published in 1970.




Efforts to expand the definition of child pornography to include fictional material-- i.e. manga (comic books,) anime (animation,) and video games in Japan continue to exist as of June, 2011.

In December of 2010, Bill 156, a bill revising the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths was passed in the Tokyo. The bill that started the debate in March of 2010 originally contained language that would have established the catagory of "nonexistent youth" and thereby attepted to regulate fictional material that included sexualization of "nonexistent youth." While this section has been eliminated, Bill 156 instead made fictional depictions of incest and various illegal sexual acts as defined by real life laws and regulation subject to regulation, and thereby expanded its scope considerably. July of 2011, Tokyo Metropolitan Government will have considerable power over any fiction, regardless of fantasy, science fiction, or historical recreation, subject to regulation based on whether on not the depicted fictional sexual act breaches real life laws and regulations. [*]

Furthermore, the elements within the Tokyo Metropolitan Government who pushed for the revision of the Tokyo Youth Healthy Development of Youth have stated that the spirit of the original "non-existent youth" legislation is still in the newly passed Bill 156.

These efforts have not been confined to Tokyo, as numerous legislative bodies, both local and national, have begun considering either banning or restricting certain types of creative fiction. A petition campaign by a Japanese charted entity of UNICEF, the Japan Committee for UNICEF, has been pushing hard to make fictional graphic depictions of anyone below the age of 18 engaged in sexual acts to be banned.[2] There are legislators that have publicatlly expressed their intention to ban certain types of fictional material.

I oppose the expansion of the definition of child pornography in Japna to include fictional material for the following reasons.



この一連の動きは東京都に限定されておらず、他の自治体でも、国会でも特定の創作物の規制・違法化を検討する動きがあります。ユニセフと提携して活動している日本の民間団体、現在日本ユニセフ協会は署名キャンペーンを通して想像上の18歳未満の性行為の描写も違法化しようと働きかけ続けています。 [2]将来、特定の創作物を違法化するべきと公言する議員も存在します。


1. It is misguided.

Law enforcement resources would be better allocated going after real cases of child abuse instead of going after fictional cases. The Japanese budget is stretched as it already stands. Money should be directed toward better financing of child welfare infrastructure and school counselors.

The banning of fictional depictions of child abuse would likely be as meaningless as the banning of fictional depictions of car chasing with the aim toward reducing motor vehicle accidents in real life.

There are better ways of combating abuse of children than meddling with a fictional domain.





2. Its rationale for banning an entire subject matter is flawed.

Child pornography involving real minors is likely to be a byproduct of actual child abuse. 

Content in itself is not the issue--Child pornography has been outlawed because the methods involved in production involve real children in possibly abusive circumstances. How the material was produced is what makes it criminal, not what impression it conveys on the audience. 

Movies where members of the cast or the crew are kidnapped to produce the film should be banned regardless of the content of the film. Snuff films are illegal because killing an individual for the sake of filming the act is illegal and reprehensible. 

If content alone was the issue, war footage and horror films should be banned as well.

One aim of banning child pornography is preventing the participation of children in the sex industry. In part, the foundation of child pornography is based on an extension of child labor law, not the purging of a link between sexuality and minors from human thought. 

Child pornography involving real children being sexually abused is horrid beyond words. For that very reason, I find it reprehensible to mix together such acts of human misery and suffering with illusionary fantasy that exists only in the author's imagination. Widening the definition of child pornography to include fictional material belittles the gravity of real sex abuse.

2. 特定の題材を違法化する理由があまりにも筋が通っていません。







3. Its logic of encouraging criminal behavior is absurd.

Many who advocate the banning of fictional erotica featuring minors claim that the presence of such material wets the appetites for criminal behavior and makes actual sexual abuse of child acceptable. At heart of this argument is the assumption that people cannot control their urges when it comes to sexual material and that the presence of even fictional child abuse encourages real child abuse. Many cite the confessions by convicted criminals as proof of this logic.

By this logic, the Bible should be banned for inciting the destruction of entire civilizations and encouraging the genocidal efforts conducted in its name over the course of human history. 

Many convicted criminals also cite the Bible as their inspiration of conducting astonishingly savage acts, and yet few would attribute the Bible as the root cause of such criminal behavior. Why?--Because free societies accept the principle that people are responsible for their own actions.

Some might argue that suggestive sexual material should be banned because, while most people are responsible and can differentiate between fantasy and reality, pedophiles and other mentally unstable people cannot. This school of thought advocates banning certain material based on how contact with provocative material might incite easily susceptible individuals toward criminal behavior. 

It is very dangerous to restrict the actions and rights of citizens based on the principle that some limited number of individuals may act irresponsibly. This is the equivalent of removing knives from the household kitchen because someone used a meat cleaver to commit a crime. Again, this logic is unbelievably reckless as well.

Furthermore, crime statistics published by the Japanese police themselves show no causality between the proliferation of erotic material and sex crimes. The crime rate has dramatically decreased since WW2 while the availability of erotica and violent fictional entertainment has risen by leaps and bounds during the same period.

3. 違法行為を奨励すると言う論理が破綻しています。







4. The ban will more than likely be unenforceable and be effective only marginally.

Unlike in real life, characters in fictional material do not have birth certificates. 

It is easily imaginable that an endless cycle of accusations and denials will unfold regarding establishing the "true age" of fictional characters. Authors and publishers will more than likely attempt to proclaim that the characters look young, but they are actually above the age of 18. Physical attributes vary between widely depending on race and ethnicity, not to mention fictional non-human characters. 

Should all humanoid entities, such as elves and vampires, be subject to the same set of standards? What of graphical depictions of angels and gods? Shall Greek mythology, filled with narratives of sexual encounters between old and young, gods and humans involved in circumstances that would clearly be deemed illegal in real life be treated as illegal as well?

Publishers and authors are extremely proficient in adapting toward new regulations. If graphical depictions are banned, then abstract or comedic depictions will increase. If visual imagery is banned, then novels and audio CD dramas will proliferate. If certain key concepts--such as articles of clothing or immature speech patterns--are marked as symbols susceptible of prohibition, these will be replaced by a new set of symbols. 

Either an ever increasing set of symbols will be deemed to be inappropriate to be linked to a core human attribute--human sexuality--or the futility of the ban will lead the law to become impotent over all. 

It will join a set of legal tools rarely invoked by the police, yet commonly sited as justification for self censorship, not to mention creating an environment ripe for corruptive collusion between the police and industry groups to come into being.

4. 法の執行は困難を極め、その効果は非常に限定的と予見できるからです。







5. Such a ban will stifle creativity and impoverish the cultural landscape.

As I have already mentioned, the ban on fictional depictions involving minors threaten the existence of numerous works of folklore, mythology, art, and literature. Libraries would have to remove many books if the ban was rigidly enforced. And then there is the question of untold millions and millions of books that are in private ownership. Should individuals be penalized for possessing books that they legally bought only a few years ago?

The inclusion of a grandfather clause could provide consolation toward collectors, but the impact toward the contemporary society would no doubt be pronounced. 

Banning the fictional depictions of minors involved in sexual situations will make a fundamental core human attribute taboo. It will deprive authors and artists in their effort to address deep social issues if they wish to take up the subject earnestly since the ban will penalize those that take up the issue of age and abuse more severely than those that flirt around with the subject matter.

Even if the ban is not rigidly enforced, publishers with reputable standing will likely enforce more stringent self censorship policies since they have more to lose compared small time publishers. 

Even today, numerous adult manga publications have self censorship standards that are mind-boggling. Authors have complained about how some editors have insisted on having all female characters appearing in their works be endowed with large breasts because drawing women as they appear more like in real life was deemed "too childish looking." 

While these guidelines vary greatly between publishers and video game production houses of anime and video games, but passing any law that forbids imagined underage representations will contribute to an ever more warped representation of the humanity in fiction. 

An author's subjectivity should never be driven by fear of persecution. 

Many have argued that this ban is aimed only toward "offensive, vile, and exploitive material." Wholesome publications and works of art shall be exempt, they argue. 

Such a faith is foolish at best and self-delusionary at worst. 

Who shall judge for the entire population what is offensive or not?

The value attributed to works of literature and art change over time. The works of modern art and literature from the last two centuries are filled with examples where they were deemed to be vile, corruptive trash by contemporary authorities, but now these same works enjoy high status as priceless cultural treasures.

If some find the material to be offensive, they have a simple choice of avoiding such material.

If someone feels certain objectionable works are getting too popular, they are free to criticize such trends. Ideally, such frustrations should be directed toward creating new material that competes and possibly outshines what they deem to be offensive. 

A culture grows richer through addition, not by subtraction.

5. 違法化は創作の萎縮を招き、文化全体を貧しくさせ兼ねないからです。















6. It will create a dangerous legal precedence and it is far too extreme.

A prohibition on fictional material dependent on subjective standards rationalized by unproven causality that will negatively impact the cultural landscape pursued for securing imagined gains of safety should make people sit up and take notice, but there is an even greater danger embedded here.

All these concerns pale in light of how the proposed ban would penalize individuals essentially for having a rich imagination. 

A ban on fictional depictions of minor engaged in sexual situations has the very real potential to brand individuals as sex offenders even though they have had no sexual contact with real people. I believe there could be no legal justification for destroying people's lives simple because they drew doodles on paper, but the proposed ban would create such a legal precedence. 

If allowing individuals to engage in fictional depictions of underage sex is deemed to be too dangerous for society because of its supposed anti-social nature, what other depictions of anti-social acts should we ban next? Shoplifting? Bullying in school? Rape? Discrimination based on class? War crimes?

In a nutshell, such a ban would be Orwellian.

6. 非常に危うい法律的慣例を作りことになり、あまりにも極端だからです。






A ban on manga, anime, and video games simply because it features underage characters is a misguided Orwellian policy that will likely produce only marginal results in exchange for a huge toll on a free society. 

I am absolutely certain that history will not look back kindly upon such a ban, and it will join a long list of colossal failures of regulatory policy, such as the prohibition of alcohol in the US between 1920 to 1933, various sodomy laws, the comic book code, and bans on socialist literature in Japan during the prewar era.

It is important to note that all these failed moral crusades were led by virtuous and diligent individuals intent on making the world a better place. 

At first, many members of society were receptive to these well intended efforts, brushing aside those that raised objections as being alarmists or extremists. Over time, the regulatory mechanism will form a life of its own. Regulatory policies encourages the custodians of that policy to expand the limits of the regulation because their authority is dependent on the extent of regulation. Sometimes the regulatory regime will morph into a beast it was never intended to become, and at that stage it will become extremely hard to reverse such failed policies. Failed regulatory schemes have a tendency to create burdensome legacies that will tax upon society for decades to come. 

We need not tread upon that path once more.






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For more information regarding Bill 156, see my following blog posts.
Bill 156's Total Scope
Of Illegal Fictional Marriages and Harmful Fictional Sex (Addendum)
1 - 第1段落の翻訳はウォルター・ケンドリックの著作『シークレット・ミュージアム 猥褻と検閲の近代』(平凡社刊)の大浦康介・河田学による翻訳と大浦康介の監修の文章から抜粋。第2段落は小生が翻訳しました。
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This essay is based on material that I have released in the past.

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