Japan clamps down on cartoons

Does the art form from the orient that brought us the kama sutra now face censorship?

The ancient Japanese cartoon form of the manga has been around for hundreds of years and features prominently in published works. The often explicit cartoons and drawings have become part of tradition and are recognised as an art form in their own right.

But the big bad marker pen of censorship could soon be drawing a thick line over many of these drawings following a surprising court case in Japan.

A judge in Tokyo has handed out a suspended prison term to a publisher upholding the prosecution's claims that the sale of his books amounted to the distribution of obscene literature.

This is the first time manga cartoons have been branded obscene and could have a serious impact on cartoon publishing in Japan. This could also have further reaching implications as this form of cartoon is widely used in adverts and other promotional campaigns.

As the BBC reports, the publisher sees this as an infringement on his freedom of expression and has appealed the decision.

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