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Japan Subculture Research Center

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Japan author sues police over ban on 'yakuza' publications


Apr 2, 2010

Now that April Fool’s Day is finished (at least here in Japan), we can actually post some real news! Related to the article last week about convenience stores in Fukuoka agreeing to take yakuza fan publications off their shelves, one man in the industry has now taken action against the move, calling it censorship and complaining that it hurts his income:

Japan author sues police over ban on ‘yakuza’ publications

TOKYO: A Japanese author and son of a Yakuza gangster on Thursday filed a lawsuit against police in the country’s west for asking stores to take underworld comics and magazines off their shelves.

Crime writer Manabu Miyazaki argued that police in Fukuoka prefecture were suppressing free speech by asking stores not to sell manga comic books and magazines that describe the Japanese crime syndicates.

“I am an author,” the 64-year-old protested on his website. “I make money by writing and selling books.”

In his complaint with the Fukuoka District Court, Miyazaki said police had asked convenience stores to remove 73 comic books and three magazine titles from their shelves, and that many shops had following suit.

The police request meant to enforce an ordinance aimed at curtailing the influence of the yakuza, whose organisations are not banned under Japanese law and whose exploits are often the subject of manga comics and fan magazines.

The police list included a comic book based on a Miyazaki novel about the life of a yakuza man, said the author, who demanded 5.5 million yen (about 59,000 dollars) in damages from the regional government.

An officer at the Fukuoka police said they were aware of Miyazaki’s lawsuit but could not immediately comment on it.

Japan’s yakuza, whose members are known for cutting off their little fingers to atone for acts of disloyalty and mistakes, have long been active in gambling, loan sharking and money-laundering.

In April 2007, a gangster associated with Japan’s largest criminal syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, shot dead the mayor of the city of Nagasaki. — AFP

His argument is akin to artists complaining that their albums aren’t sold at Walmart because of questionable material, and at the end of the day the “censorship” is voluntary so it’s debatable whether he has any footing at all. What I found most questionable was the article itself–even to introduce the yakuza to people who have no background knowledge about them, AFP could have done a little better than the last two sentences.

Click here to see the article on Yahoo! News.

5 thoughts on “Japan author sues police over ban on 'yakuza' publications”
  1. There is a difference between this and the Walmart situation.

    In this case, it is the Police — an arm of government — who trying to introduce censorship of materials they disapprove of, which materials themselves are not in violation of any law.

  2. Actually, under the revised anti-organized crime laws, if yakuza are cooperating with the publication of these materials–as they are, it could be argued that the magazines themselves are in violation of the law. It’s a very grey legal area.
    On the other hand, the police are simply asking and the convenience stores are not required to obey. Of course, in Japan, when the police ask for something, few people will say “no.”
    Personally, I think it would be fair to ban the sale to minors as “harmful materials.” Probably much more harmful than run of the mill pornography. The magazines glorify gangster life without explaining or really touching upon the social harm they create.
    On the other hand, you might be able to say the same thing about gangster rap in the United States.

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