Mangaka Ken Akamatsu was recently summoned to speak before the Japanese House of Councilors on the subject of manga’s continued survival over the course of the next ten years.
The summons prompted the Love Hina and UQ Holder creator to praise the welcoming environment offered by Japan’s artistic freedom while also cautioning against a culture where Japanese works are “regulated by foreign standards.”
On June 29th, Akamatsu explained on his personal Twitter page that while “Compared to other countries, Japan’s forte is its freedom of creativity”, the trend of “foreign platforms becoming more and more dominant” poses a threat to the medium’s continued existence.
Akamatsu wrote, “This month, I was invited to participate in a House of Councilors witness questioning session, but instead, a member of the DIET [Japanese government] asked me, ‘What measures are needed for Japanese manga need to survive in the world?'”
He then detailed his reply, “I replied, ‘First and foremost, freedom of expression. Compared to other countries, Japan’s forte is its freedom of creativity. However, with foreign platforms becoming more and more dominant, I would like to avoid a situation where Japanese works are regulated by foreign standards.'” [Translation provided by Crunchyroll]
Speaking to the future preservation of manga and its history, Akamatsu also advocated for the creation of a ‘National Manga Center,’ an institution which would collect and maintain a library of manga rough pages and raw manuscripts while also monetizing the works by exhibiting them to the public.
According to Akamtasu, all the members of the Diet in attendance agreed with this sentiment.
He wrote on Twitter, ““I want to avoid situations where Japanese works are regulated by overseas standards.”
He added, “At the National Manga Center, which was sent off this time, raw manuscripts are stored, displayed, and monetized to prevent them from leaking overseas.”
He added, “The teachers of the members of the Diet were also very nodding.”
In recent times, the censoring of Japanese works to accommodate foreign, particularly Western, sociopolitical sensibilities has grown in frequency.
Square Enix recently updated the costume for Maam in media related to their upcoming revival of Dragon Quest: Adventures of Dai in order to make her appearance less risqué.
Sony’s notorious, self-admitted censorship policy, which has been enforced mainly on Japanese games, as seen in the addition of bright lights over non-sexualized images of the female form in Devil May Cry V and, in the case of games such as Aokana: Four Rhythms Across the Blue, outright cancellations due to excessive cutting of content.
Viz Media recently hired D.J. Kirkland, an individual who regularly and vocally advocates for censoring or changing manga according to Western standards and has asserted that “there IS going to be conversation between stakeholders in Japan and here when it comes to creating content that appeals to more western audience”, to a position self-described by Kirkland as being “close and personal to manga.”