Tokyo police have summoned chief editors of two weekly magazines in order to deliver a verbal warning over publishing artworks that it has determined to constitute displaying obscenity and might be in violation of new regulations set in place in Tokyo since last year.
The Weekly Post, published by Shogakukan, Inc., and Shukan Gendai, published by Kondansha, Ltd., carried images, both in color and in black and white, of plaster art made by British artist Jamie McCartney, as well as an image of the half-naked woman on whom the artwork was based. The Metropolitan Police Department has considered the pictures utterly obscene since it clearly resembled vaginas. The two weeklies are widely sold in book and convenience stores where many, including young or underage people, can have access to them, prompting the MPD to issue the warning. Weekly Post insists that it was merely reporting on the artwork, whose artist claims to be an expression of the subject matter’s beauty, that is already publicly displayed in London. Shukan Gendai refused to comment on the issue.
It is, however, problematic to place restrictions on art, according to constitutional expert Prof. Shojiro Sakaguchi from Hitotsubashi University, who called the MPD’s warning “arbitrary”. There are even more obscene comics and magazines than there are works of art, and these are also sold in those same places, according to the professor. This is despite the fact that revised youth protection laws were put into effect last year. Magazines and manga (comics) bordering on pornography or even explicitly pornographic are still being sold in stores where young children can have easy viewing or reading access to them, regardless of whether the store will sell the materials to them.