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  • Your Right to Pretend Rape

    Posted on June 19th, 2009 keving 3 comments


    I really didn’t know a lot about the Ethics Organization of Computer Software before they got mentioned in The Phantom of Akihabara. By sheer coincidence, they’re front-and-center in the Japan news media right now thanks to RapeLay, so I thought I’d discuss what they do for a bit and how it relates to the current state of Japan’s eroge business.

    Before the EOCS (usually called “Sofu-rin” ソフ倫 in Japanese) was established in 1992, there were not much regulation at all of Japan’s adult game industry. There were occasional controversies, such as when 177 was brought up within Japan’s House of Representatives, but largely the industry enjoyed a remarkable amount of freedom. This all changed with the 1991 release of Saori, an adventure game which features non-censored depictions of (among other things) lesbian incest, fauther/daughter incest, and the game’s heroine taking a piss. A Kyoto middle-schooler was caught shoplifting Saori, causing a news sensation in Japan when the game’s content was fully examined. The developer and publisher had their offices raided by the police, and the president at the time was arrested for the sale of indecent images.

    In response, adult-game publishers stepped up their own standards (starting with blurring sexual organs, just like adult video-makers had to do) and limited sale to people 18 and over. There was no unified system, however, and things got worse for the industry when the southern prefecture of Miyazaki banned the sale of several titles in 1992 that did not explicitly state “18 or over” on the box. (One of these, Cybernetic Hi-School, was produced by GAINAX, the Evangelion company. They fought Miyazaki prefecture all the way up to Japan’s supreme court, but lost the case.)

    In response, the Japan Personal Computer Software Association (JPSA) requested that adult game publishers establish a cross-industry system to more effectively deal with legal challenges. This led to the founding of the EOCS in August ’92 and the creation of a standard “18+ only” sticker for game boxes. The EOCS initially rated software 18+ or general-audience, but introduced a 15+ rating in June 1994 for games that had some objectional content (such as underage drinking) but no graphic sex. EOCS member companies are obligated to have all of their software rated by the outfit, including any non-adult-oriented stuff they release.

    The vast majority of adult-game outfits in Japan are not EOCS members, instead preferring to regulate themselves. However, sort of like how CNN and Fox News speed-dialed PETA for comment when President Obama was caught swatting a fly on camera earlier this week, the Japanese media aims straight for the EOCS whenever any adult game — most recently, RapeLay — stirs up controversy. As a result, the EOCS’s standards tend to be the industry standard, and it’s a not-infrequenct occurrence for even non-member companies to recall their games because they forgot to blur out an anime chick’s vagina in one or two images.

    The EOCS’s first set of bylaws prohibited any sort of incest depiction, even with fictional characters, as well as sexual acts or exposed genitals involving any character under 18 years of age. The latter rule was enough to turn the industry — one that produced tons of games set in high schools — completely upside-down in the early ’90s. By the latter half of the decade, the EOCS standards were interpreted to essentially outlaw the presence of “high schools” (高校) in adult games, because students can be anywhere from 15 to 18 in those joints. Instead, developers use non-age-specific terms like “academy” (学園) for their school adventures today. Seito (生徒), usually translated to “student” in English, is another verboten term because it usually refers to people below college age in the Japanese language.

    In 2003, software distributor HobiBox joined the Contents Soft Association, another regulatory corporation that mainly covered adult DVDs. In response, several gamemakers that had exclusive distribution deals with HobiBox left the EOCS and jumped over to the CSA, whose standards also happened to be a bit looser than the EOCS’s. Since this schism, the EOCS has generally relaxed its standards through the past few years, taking a few words off the verboten list and loosening rules on the depiction of family scenes. By contract, most of the new EOCS rules enacted in the 21st century have to do with keeping pedophilia, or the impression that pedophilia is present in the industry, out of the business.

    With the RapeLay media controversy, though, both the EOCS and the Japanese government are reportedly turning their attention to rape and forced behavior in adult games. Earlier this week, adult-game maker Norn announced that its latest Windows title, which I’ll translate as “Desert Island Training with the Dog God: Beat Your Superior! No Getting off! Get Your Pussy Out and Make Me Cum!”, would be indefinitely delayed. In its mail magazine, the company wrote that “we are negotiating with all of the regulatory issues before us, but the possibility has arisen that non-human heroines, childmaking, and impregnation elements may no longer be suitable for store sale in the future.”

    2ch has a few topics on the subject, of course, with one of them having a few interesting, but unattributed, rumors written inside:

    “I can’t write specifics, but I showed up at what you could call a regulator’s meeting. Next time around they’ll be targeting [the depiction of] school uniforms, schools, and outdoor [sex], and after that, non-married pregnant women and adultery. In the end, they’re gonna stamp out adult games and use that achievement to start regulating manga next. It was enough to make me puke. We shouldn’t have gotten down on our knees so quickly on rape regulation. Think about why Japan and the fishing groups have fought so hard against the anti-whaling people all these decades, people. It’s because if they completely ban whaling, they’ll single out bluefin tuna and other fish next.”

    Another anonymous “industry-insider” comment — this one bringing up conservative Diet member Seiko Noda, who commented to Japanese media earlier this month that adult games and pornography are “discriminatory against women” and “should all be regulated” by the government:

    “Noda’s group isn’t stopping with rape games; they’re crafting bills to regulate all games and anime that depict 18+ stuff, violence and murder. I can’t give you a source because I don’t want to blow any covers, but it’s all true. You ‘pure love’ people oughta be worried, too: One bill regulates any ‘academy’ or uniform that even looks like it comes from a high school. That includes any kind of sex in a school or that involves a school uniform. Panty flashes or bare breasts are gonna be regulated, too, of course. This all goes for ’18+’ games for now, of course, but they’re planning to regulate shonen/shoujo manga later on. The only thing helping us right now is that the LDP and Democratic Party’s versions of the bills don’t match up yet. If any of this stuff passes through the legislature, it’ll be a slippery slope down to the complete regulation of anything drawn in 2D.”

    I will freely admit to having not played a Japanese 18+ game released since the EOCS’s founding. In my eyes, tho, no matter how the EOCS changes its rules or what the Japanese government does in response to the RapeLay controversy, the adult games released after the furor dies down are still going to be far beyond anything that could be sold in America, Europe, China or anywhere else, really, except maybe southeast Asia. Japan, after all, is the country where child porn possession is legal as long as you don’t give it to anyone else.


    3 responses to “Your Right to Pretend Rape” RSS icon

    • I may be wrong, but if not, it might be worth pointing out that Illusion Soft (creators of RapeLay) are not only members of EOCS, but they appear to a key part of the group. O rsomething.

      That last sentence surprised me (not shock, just surprise). I checked Wikipedia, and you’re certainly right, but I ended up even more confused.

      The details concerning the apparently huge amount of child pornography related to Japan are kind of….unclear to me. Is it being produced there? Hosted there? Downloaded there? What standards of child pornography are the people who make the reports going by?

      I saw this article cited:

      That article only serves to obscure the issue, such as how it combines commentary on both pornography and sex tourism. “The representative added that half of this data depicted harrowing images of sexually abused children” – what makes up the other half, non-harrowing images? “Other participants said Fiji was suffering from a proliferation of pornographic images among youths along with the spread of cell phones” – wait, are we talking sexting here?

      “On this occasion, the congress has made clear a consensus among the international community that images depicting the sexual abuse of children in manga and anime is a form of sexual exploitation, as it infringes upon the human rights and dignity of children,” said Akihiko Morita, professor in international human rights studies at Tokyo Institute of Technology.”

      Ugh. I flinch whenever someone talks about lolicon, but to see it counted as child pornography bothers me even more.

      anyway, sorry for the rant.

    • Aw that’s quite all right.

      Whenever this debate comes up on forums, someone almost always reminds everyone that Japan has the lowest rate of rape convictions out of basically any country in the world. This ignores, however, that Japan has a much larger prostitution industry, a cultural aversion against reporting sex crimes, and an attitude on women’s rights that’s always been a couple decades behind the rest of the world.

      There’s no single reason for any of that, of course. That’s why pornographic media is so headache-inducing. I know that back when I worked for Newtype USA, I hated getting asked by people (once they knew what I did) what’s up with all those young-girl tentacle comics, which was almost always the first thing out of their mouth.

      Free speech is vital, nobody can really legislate “obscene,” etc., but does Tim Berners-Lee get asked about his opinion of BangBus as often as I got asked about Japan’s 2D porno?

    • Japan may have the lowest rate of rape convictions, but there is a reason for this.

      The society. Bringing shame and disgrace by reporting it would bring more suffering then to just ignore it. The reason it is so low is because they don’t get reported.

      As for the “real” rate… who knows? Probably just average maybe worse?

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