Tokyo Police have given the editors of four well-known weekly magazines a stern-talking too after they published pictures of traditional Japanese erotic art, or shunga.
Shunga are considered to be an example of the popular ukiyo-e or “pictures of the floating world” from the Edo Period, and are often the subject of academic study rather than a source of pornographic mirth. The very reason the shunga appeared in these magazines was because of a current special exhibition being held in Tokyo. Similar exhibitions have been held all around the world, including at the British Museum in London.
2ch netizens say that police are trying to censor freedom of expression, and are denying traditional Japanese culture. In particular, many netizens pointed out that with a wealth of indecent material just a click away online, it seems a bit pointless to try to ensure that magazines publishing legitimate cultural content aren’t in violation of supposed indecency laws.
From NHK News:
Tokyo Police Warn Four Weekly Publications Over Publishing Erotic Shunga Paintings
Tokyo Metropolitan Police called in the editors of four weekly publications that published erotic ‘shunga’ paintings from the Edo Period, which were drawn on the themes of sex and love, as well as photographs of nude women in the same edition, and warned the editors that there is a possibility they might be breaching a law that prohibits publication of indecent images.
Shunga are paintings on the theme of sex and love that are representative of Edo-period ukiyo-e [pictures of the floating world]. While these paintings are held in high artistic esteem around the world, they are also known for their bold depictions of sex.
Of these publications, Shukan Post, Shukan Taishu, Shukan Gendai and Shukan Asahi Geino published shunga and nude photographs of women in the same edition.
Tokyo Metropolitan police therefore called in the editors of these four publications because there was a possibility that by publishing both the shunga and the nude photographs together, the magazines might breach a law which forbids the publication of indecent images. Apparently the editors were verbally advised to take more care from now on when publishing such images.
Furthermore, Shukan Bunshu, which also published shunga in the same way, were not the object of police warning because they didn’t publish the shunga together with the nude photographs; however, the magazine dealt with the issue by putting the editor on leave for “lacking in editorial concern and betraying readers’ trust”.
The police stated that “We have previously advised magazines publishing things that emphasize indecency rather than artistic value, and we will continue to respond to these where necessary and ask that these are given some forethought”.
The four publications warned by officers issued the following comments.
Shukan Post said that in the magazine that went on sale “shunga is presented as traditional culture that Japan ought to be proud of before the rest of the world, and to the very end we see it as a work of art”.
Shukan Gendai said that they “could not comment on the situation at all”.
Shukan Taishu stated that “It is true that we have received a warning, and in the future we would like to give due concern to the composition of the magazine”.
Shukan Asahi Geino said that “Certainly, the police had something to say to us, but we will not make any further comment on the matter”.
Comments from 2ch.net:
Are they trying to deny Japan’s culture?
So it’s a no-no to publish shunga in the same edition as nude photos, then?
Even when the nude photograph itself is not a problem?
So even though these days you can see as many genitals as you want online, we’re behind the times on so many other things, with magazines getting warned for publishing these things on paper.
So are art magazines that show naked women in trouble too?
There’s no hope for the world.
So the statue of David would be a no-go, too.
What the hell is the point of that when these days we have a proliferation of uncensored videos online?
The cops must be idiots.
Stop with these pointless regulations.
Revise the law already!
If they’re in an art book, they’re art.
If they’re in a weekly magazine, they’re obscene.
Come on, they’re our cultural heritage!
Art is often published in magazines.
The police are just too weird.
Looks the police have lost the plot now too? w
It’s the idiots with power who are a pox on society.
What jackasses. They should publish a special edition of shunga from a ukiyo-e artist.
I saw something about the special exhibition on NHK news. So it’s ok to show it in a video but it’s not OK to have it in an article?
Riiight, so you guys need to regulate the mythological creatures and nudes that appear in Western art too.
It’s because they do stuff like this that the content industry is in decline.
The police are harming our economy way too much!
So those exhibitions of Western art with the nude reproductions are all over 18s only, are they?
I guess the thing is, would those imbecile editors be able to show it to their daughters and explain how its art?
Guess they should just have blurred out the rude bits of the shunga.