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 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.