Japan's Supreme Court has ruled that a collection of erotic photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe does not violate obscenity laws, a decision that should allow the sale of the book for the first time in eight years.
The decision overturns a 2003 Tokyo High Court ruling that the book Mapplethorpe was indecent, court spokesman Takashi Ando said. It was believed to be the first time the top court has overruled a lower court ruling on obscenity.
The court, however, rejected publisher Takashi Asai's demands for government compensation of 2.2 million yen (US$20,370).
In the ruling, justice Kohei Nasu said the book of black-and-white portraits compiles works from the artistic point of view, and is not obscene as a whole.
The decision, a majority opinion of the five-judge bench, also recognized Mapplethorpe as an artist who has won high appreciation as a leading figure in contemporary art.
Japanese customs have a long history of applying conservative obscenity standard, by targeting all clear genital images in prints and films across the board, forcing film distributors and publishers to alter the parts, prompting criticisms by
artists who said such measures insult their works.
Publisher Asai called the ruling “groundbreaking” and said it could change the obscenity standard used for banning foreign films that show nudity and censoring photographs in books.
In a commentary Tuesday, the Yomiuri newspaper said that the Supreme Court ruling reflected a change in the concept of what constitutes obscenity: Obscene images have spread on the Internet and are accessible to anyone. The supreme court must
have decided that calling a highly acclaimed photographer's book ‘obscenity' does not fit today's social norm.
Asai had sold about 900 copies the Japanese version of “Mapplethorpe,” which was originally published by Random House, in Japan starting in 1994 without objection from authorities. But airport customs officials in Japan confiscated a copy he had
with him when he returned from a trip to the U.S. in 1999. The 384-page book contained 20 close-up photos of male genitalia, and authorities considered it obscene.
A rare festival of uncensored sexual films screened in Tokyo this week in the latest bid by a Japanese distributor to test the country's restrictions on showing nudity.
Pornography is widely available in Japan for personal use, but bans are imposed on images of genitalia either being imported or being displayed in public places such as cinemas.
The Extreme Love festival, which opened Monday and runs until March 2, is the brainchild of Takashi Asai, head of the Uplink distribution firm who has long battled with censorship.
Just last week, Japan's Supreme Court handed him a significant victory by lifting a ban by customs officers who confiscated his personal copy of a book from late US photographer Robert Mapplethorpe that depicted male genitals.
It's a pure coincidence that this cinema festival is coming several days after the ruling, said Asai, whose company, which was started in 1987, publishes artbooks and distributes films and documentaries.
The Extreme Love festival was put together with the support of the French embassy's cultural service, which said it was promoting two works being shown by French filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux. The festival is also screening uncut versions
of two French films that were previously censored when shown in Japan -- Baise-Moi (Fuck Me) by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi and Une Vraie Jeune Fille (A Real Young Girl) by Catherine Breillat.
The festival opened without hindrance in the trendy Shibuya district, even though the same films would typically only be shown in Japan with footage of genitalia pixelated.
The four feature films and 24 short works at the festival feature graphic nudity including scenes of masturbation and sexual acts.
Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department have arrested Akira O-ta, the head of the editorial department at the publisher Core Magazine, and two others for distributing supposedly obscene images. The arrestees are accused of carrying and selling
magazines with manga and photos of sex scenes and other content with insufficient censoring.
O-ta and one other suspect have denied the charges, saying, We didn't think they were obscene. The third arrestee reportedly admitted to the charges.
The three suspects are accused of selling about 24,500 copies of the manga magazine Comic Mega Store with sex scenes between males and females. They are also accused of selling about 36,000 copies of Nyan 2 Club , a magazine for
reader-submitted adult photographs. Both magazines were marked with the 18+ label.
Both magazines makes minimal use of mosaic censoring over certain areas, but the police said it verbally warned the magazines' staff that there is a possibility that these magazines could still be labeled as obscene.
Update: The Ministry of Unpixellated Porn
26th July 2013. Thanks to Alan
This idiocy leaves me gobsmacked. Japanese uncensored porn is all over the internet. Back in the days of dial-up, when porn consisted largely of still images, fans of Japanese dirty pics could download something called Mozkiller , which
removed the mosaic censorship.
This also seems to be a very modern obsession. I remember going to an exhibition of ukiyo-e paintings by the respected artist Utamaro (1753-1806) at the British Museum, including many detailed pornographic pictures. In fact, one old boy was
looking at some of the smaller pics through a magnifying glass to get a better view of the action.. (Yes, he was wearing a mac!) I believe the exhibition was supported by major Japanese galleries and the relevant ministry.
A Japanese artist who made a kayak modelled on her own vagina has been arrested again in a case of police censorship.
Megumi Igarashi, who calls herself Rokude Nashiko -- offensive slang which loosely translates as reprobate child -- was arrested in July for trying to raise funds online to pay for the construction of a kayak, using a 3D printer, inspired
by her genitals. She was released days later following a legal appeal and after thousands of people signed a petition demanding her freedom.
But she has now been re-arrested. A Tokyo police spokesprat told AFP that she was arrested on suspicion of sending a link:
that shows her plan to create a boat using three-dimensional obscene data to a large number of people. She tried to have those people who were willing to finance her plan download the 3D obscene data.
Sex toy shop manager Minori Watanabe was also arrested for displaying obscene goods in her shop window in collusion with Igarashi from around October last year until July, police said.
A Japanese woman who makes art based on her vagina has been charged with obscenity. She was arrested in early December and has been held in detention since then.
Megumi Igarashi became a victim of police persecution after displaying a supposedly obscene work at a Tokyo sex shop and sent 3D data of her genitals to other people. She famously used the 3D data to design a kayak.
Ms Igarashi was previously arrested in July, but was later released following a legal appeal and public pressure.
The newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that she read out in court a prepared statement which said:
My works are all meant to induce friendly laughter because they involve cutely decorating sexual organs. The works are not obscene.
Police also arrested the owner of a Tokyo sex shop for allegedly displaying Ms Igarashi's obscene goods in her shop window from October 2013 until July this year. The woman was later freed after a judge refused to allow prosecutors
to question her further.
Authorities however were allowed to continue to detain Ms Igarashi because the judge was concerned that she would destroy evidence or flee , said Asahi Shimbun.
On her website, Ms Igarashi, who has made several items based on her genitals using a silicone mould, said she wanted to make vaginas more casual and pop , much like how penises are regarded as part of pop culture in Japan.
28th December 2014. Thanks to Alan
Megumi Igarashi's supporters have said that she's out on bail again.
A Japanese artist who made a kayak modelled on her vagina has denied obscenity charges at the start of her trial in a case demonstrating Japanese censorship and double standards.
Megumi Igarashi, who calls herself Rokudenashiko, was first arrested last July after distributing 3D scans of her genitalia to people in return for donations to her project to create the unusual kayak.
She was released days later following a public campaign supporting her right to freedom of expression. She was rearrested in December , however, and charged with obscenity.
The artist told the Tokyo district court that her vagina selfies were not obscene. I do not dispute the facts [of the charge], but my artwork is not obscene, Igarashi said.
Igarashi said she had sent the data to people who had donated more than 3,000 yen to the kayak project. She said she was prepared to take her case all the way to Japan's supreme court if necessary.
A Japanese artist who made a kayak modelled on her vagina has been found guilty of breaking repressive obscenity laws.
Megumi Igarashi was arrested in July 2014 after she distributed data that enabled recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina. She was fined 400,000 yen (£2,575) for distributing supposedly obscene images.
Igarashi distributed the data to help raise funds to create a kayak inspired by her genitalia she called pussy boat .
The judge claimed that the data, though flat and inorganic , realistically portrayed the shape of a vagina and could sexually arouse viewers .
Igarashi was cleared of a second charge relating to the display of plaster versions of the kayak at a shop selling adult goods in Tokyo. Tanabe said the kayak did not obviously resemble female genitalia and could not be considered obscene.