Court to Japanese: speech free, kinda

A couple of interesting "freedom of the press" stories have come to a close (or so it seems) recently. First: journalist cleared of defamation.

The Supreme Court overturned a high court decision Thursday, ruling that noted journalist Yoshiko SAKURAI did not defame a late hemophilia expert [Takeshi ABE] in her writings about the infection of hemophiliacs with HIV from tainted blood products.
... The high court had said the information from patients that Sakurai used was hearsay and Abe's statements in an interview in which he appeared to have acknowledged delaying clinical trials were unclear.
Therefore, the information could not be established as true, nor was there any reason for Sakurai to have believed it to be true, the high court said.
Before the Supreme Court, Sakurai's attorneys had argued that the high court's ruling meant journalists were required to have a higher ability to collect information than investigative authorities and that such a situation would discourage freedom of expression.

Second, the latest development in the neverending "obscene manga" Misshitsu case:

The Tokyo High Court on Thursday reduced the sentence imposed by a lower court on a comic book publisher who was convicted of distributing obscene comic books featuring graphic sex scenes. While the court upheld the conviction, it lowered Motonori Kishi's sentence from a suspended prison term to a fine.
... Presiding Judge Kenjiro Tao deemed that the comics were obscene, but added, "There is a considerable gap in obscenity compared with that in material of real images, such as DVDs."

So, uh, we can all look forward to more rape-centric manga in future. Whee. (Freedom of speech, freedom of speech...)

Related to manga but not really to free speech: standard-issue wire service article about otaku, which includes the passage:

Tetsu ISHIHARA, 34, a computer programmer whose three-room apartment in west Tokyo is filled from floor to ceiling with comic books, ... maintains a growing collection of 130 life-size pillows of female anime characters -- both purchased and self-designed. ...
"There are some people who do lose their grip on reality, but that is not me -- or most of us," said Ishihara, a chubby man with glasses who this year started dating a woman steadily for the first time. She's an anime artist. "For me, the pillows have been my source of unconditional love, a reminder of when I used to be hugged by my parents. There is nothing strange about it."

I'd like to know what word is being translated as strange here. I think even otaku are aware that by society's standards, it is strange to collect 130 life-sized anime girl pillows.* My guess is he said hen, and his actual implication was that there's nothing sexual about it.

(I know it's impolite to second-guess translators like that, but either the author or the editor of this piece silently translated the proper noun "Morning Musume" to "Morning Daughter" in this article, so frankly, I don't trust 'em.)

* I mean, sure, 110, maybe 120, you can see that. But 130?!

Popularity factor: 7


I used to work at a pharmaceutical advertising company, and one day I got an ad to check that had been translated into Spanish in which "Christmas disease" was rendered "enfermedad de Navidad." I ROFL'd. (Christmas disease is named after the kid in whom it was first recognized, Stephen Christmas.)


Now THAT is a good story.


that's a horrible name for a disease. i'd rather them call it stephen's disease (enfermedad de stefano) than they ruin christmas. now i'll never be able to enjoy christmas ever again.


The term for such anime/manga weirdness has become もえ (萌)。 Utter it in one of your classes and your students will know exactly what you're talking about.

It has something to do with otaku who can't date real women because they're functionally in love with the "ideal" anime/manga women they constantly read about.


Are these girl-pillows* collapsible, or something? Isn't a collection of that size going to be rather bulky to fit in a 3-room Japanese apartment that's already full of comics?

-- Tim May

*That compound sounds like it means something else.


re the pillows... I dunno, I've only ever seen ones that are actual full-sized pillows. But I haven't gone searching for others. Maybe some of them are inflatable, or maybe he just has a collection of 130 life-sized pilllow covers and far fewer pillows he rotates them between...?


Justin-- I wrote half the wikipedia article on moe ;) (well, I rewrote the misleading crap that was already there.)

If you read the essays and manifestoes and books by the moe folk, it doesn't seem like they're incapable of loving women so much as they're uninterested in changing their lifestyle in order to appeal to real women. It's not like huge throngs of eligible women are just dying to date overweight, poorly dressed nerds with packrat instincts and encyclopedic knowledge of some forgotten corner of popular culture. (I should know.)

One book I read on the topic was more or less a reply to Makeinu no tooboe, the book that says that there aren't any good men left for over-30 Japanese single women to date. The author seemed to take this rather personally. Then at the very end he revealed that he'd been horrible abused by his mother and the whole thing started to sound different.

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