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UN Committee Urging Japan to Ban Sale of Games Portraying Sexual Violence Against Women

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Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
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Japan’s gaming industry produces a wide variety of content, and if you visit Akihabara in Tokyo, you’ll often find store with entire (and rated well guarded) floors dedicated to erotic games. Some of those titles often dabble, directly or indirectly, into an array of themes that are frowned upon by society.

Years ago, Illusion’s Rapelay brought up the issue in a rather spectacular way both locally and in the west. The game was subsequently removed for sale, and the Japanese government and gaming industry pledged to tighten the rope on this kind of content.

Apparently, what has been done isn’t enough for the CEDAW, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, that tomorrow will review Japan’s effort on implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women at Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Among the issues that the committee is going to bring up, is the urging of a ban on sales of video games portraying violence on women:

“The Committee strongly urges the State party to ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against women which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls. The Committee also recommends that, as indicated in the delegation’s oral assurance during the constructive dialogue, the State party include this issue in its revision of the Act Banning Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.”

The committee intends to probe on whether any measures have been taken towards a ban on sales:

“Please indicate the measures taken to ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against girls and women and to raise awareness among the producers of such materials, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 19 on violence against women. Please also indicate the measures taken to address the mass production, distribution and use of pornographic videos in which women are targets of sexual violence, as well as the portrayal of sexualized commercial images of women.”

The Japanese government already issued a preliminary response, pointing to already existing self-imposed regulation by the industry and its independent rating organizations.

“Concerning video games and films, self-imposed regulation by the industry and its independent rating organizations have been carried out through ratings and reviews of such media containing sexually explicit and violent scenes or scenes including anti-social behavior, to ensure that ethically inappropriate games and films are not distributed.”

At the moment, it’s unknown whether the hearing will cause more restrictions on the sale of games from the Japanese government. CEDAW promised to hold a press conference on March 7th, in order to share its findings during the proceedings.

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