Japanese bookstore chain Books Kinokuniya has removed several manga titles from sale from their Sydney location, including Goblin Slayer and Sword Art Online, following complaints by an Australian legislator that classified the titles as “child pornography materials.”
In a formal letter written to Kinokuniya Vice President Keijiro Mori, SA Best legislator Connie Bonaros revealed she had previously raised concerns over “child exploitation material being sold over the counter in the Kinokuniya bookstore,” specifically referring to various manga titles sold within the store.
Bonaros was formerly the chief-of-staff to Australian Senator Stirling Griff, who made headlines earlier this year after calling for a national ban on manga series such as Sword Art Online, Goblin Slayer, and Eromanga Sensei, similarly and disingenuously accusing these titles of promoting and contributing to “child exploitation.”
The ‘younger’ look of characters stylized in manga art styles appears to be Bonaros’ main point of contention, as she claims that “the offensive and illegal material was found in a range of books featuring depictions of wide-eyed ‘children’ – childlike in stature but engaged in extremely explicit sexual activities.”
Bonaros asserted that the titles were “in breach of the definition of child abuse and exploitation material under both commonwealth and state law in Australia.”
She further conflated depictions of youthfully-stylized characters with literal “child abuse and exploitation material.”
She also revealed that she had previously asked Kinokuniya CEO Masashi Takai to “immediately remove these offensive books from sale as a matter of urgency.” And that Kinokuniya had complied with her previous request.
However, in this letter she wanted to know if the manga had only been removed from their Australian store or if it was a broader ban. She then requested a list of countries where they might have banned the manga, and which manga had been banned.
The letter began, “Earlier this year I wrote to your Chairman and CEO, Mr Masashi Takai, raising concerns about child exploitation material being sold over the counter in the Kinokuniya bookstore in the Sydney CBD. My investigation also found other well-known retail outlets selling similar offensive material over the counter and online in Australia – and presumably overseas via the internet.”
It continued, “The offensive and illegal material was found in a range of books featuring depictions of wide-eyed ‘children’ – childlike in stature but engaged in extremely explicit sexual activities. Some of the predominantly female characters in these books are wearing school uniforms and innocent expressions as they engage in sometimes violent sex acts with dominant characters including incest and rape.”
Bonaros then wrote, “Despite clearly being in breach of the definition of child abuse and exploitation material under both commonwealth and state law in Australia, I was horrified child pornography material is freely available in Australia. Noting the extreme level of concern both domestically and internationally about child protection and child exploitation, I asked Mr Takai to immediately remove these offensive books from sale as a matter of urgency.”
“You personally responded very swiftly to my concerns advising me that Kinokuniya had reviewed and removed several titles “from our shelves, as well as our online catalogue,” Bonaros added.
She then wrote, “Further, you advised the company will continue to monitor the titles it stocks in order to ensure their contents is appropriate. I write today to congratulate Kinokuniya on taking such decisive and immediate action, and taking a lead role in this most critical area. I also write seeking some clarification of the removal of the offending books. Specifically, can you please advise whether the titles have only been removed from sale from your only Australian store, or if the ban is broader.”
Finally, Bonaros concluded, “If it is broader, can you please provide a list of the countries where the offending titles have been removed from sale. If possible, could you also please provide a list of the number of book titles impacted by your decisive action. Given the seemingly widespread availability for sale of this kind of illegal child exploitation material, a powerful opportunity exists for Kinokuniya to take a globally-leading role in taking a stand in tackling the scourge of global child exploitation.”
Mori responded, “In response to your question, the below series have been removed from sale in the Sydney store:
• Sword Art Online
• Eromanga Sensei
• NO GAME NO LIFE
• GOBLIN SLAYER
• Inside Mari
• Dragonar Academy
• Parallel Paradise
He added, “This equates to several hundred individual titles.”
Mori continued, “We are communicating with the Australian Classification Board about this issue, to better understand what content requires submission for classification. And we are continuing to monitor titles we carry as well as new orders for sensitive material. We have shared the concern about these issues with the staff in the Sydney Store, who have responded proactively and are now tackling this issue as a team.”
Finally, he stated, “In terms of our action globally, wherever our stores are situated we respect local law and culture, and make ordering decisions respectively and accordingly.”
These removals prompted further response from Bonaros, who congratulated the worldwide book retailer “on taking such strong and decisive action.”
She also claimed that “if this action helps stop one child from being sexually abused, it is one child we have saved.”
What do you make of Mori’s response and Books Kinokuniya’s decision to remove the manga from their store?