Equality Now Calls on New Japanese Administration to Ban All Games That Promote Violence Against Women and Girls

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Japan Must Fulfill Its Obligations Under the UN Women's Convention by Implementing Recent Recommendations of the CEDAW Committee

23 September 2009
Contact: Lakshmi Anantnarayan, +1 212-586-0906, lanant@equalitynow.org

Equality Now calls on the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the country’s newly-elected administration recently sworn into office, to ban all games that normalize and promote violence against women and girls. During a recent review of Japan’s compliance with its obligations under the UN’s Women’s Convention (CEDAW), the CEDAW Committee strongly urged Japan “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.”

This follows wide public debate including about computer games produced in Japan such as RapeLay in which players simulate the rape and sexual abuse of women and girls. Equality Now launched a global campaign in May 2009 targeting corporations involved in the production and sale of such games, known as hentai, as well as the then ruling party of Japan. Post-elections, Equality Now’s campaign will continue to pressure the corporations as well as urging the new DPJ administration to comply with its international obligations.

In the last few months since the launch of Equality Now’s global campaign there have been some restrictions on sale of these games. Both Amazon Japan and Illusion Software have stopped selling RapeLay, although they continue to sell similar titles. Fearing international outcry, a few companies have restricted on-line access of such games to customers in Japan alone. A few other companies are trying to evade negative publicity by simply changing titles and pictures of games, deleting words such as “rape,” and marketing the same games euphemistically under categories such as “platinum.”

Japan’s Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS), one of the industry’s self-regulating bodies, has reportedly banned the production of games containing certain forms of violence against women and the ban is supposed to go into effect in October. The terms of this ban have not been made public. It will not apply to game production companies that are not members of EOCS. In addition, there are several companies that are members of other regulatory bodies such as the government-managed Contents Soft Association (CSA), which reportedly has even more lenient standards than EOCS when rating games that promote sexual violence. Further it seems as if a company that violates the ban will simply not get a rating for its game, which will still be able to be sold in Japan. It is unclear if there will be any other adverse consequences for violating the ban.

Taina Bien-Aimé, Equality Now’s Executive Director, explains, “The EOCS ban is simply not enough given the scale of extreme pornography and violence against women in the Japanese gaming industry. We need a government-mandated uniform standard applicable to all hentai production companies that will make it illegal to produce games that promote violence against women and girls.” She adds, “The DPJ administration must understand that by allowing the violent hentai gaming industry to flourish, Japan is in violation of its international commitments to uphold the rights of women and girls. We encourage the DPJ, as the new ruling party of Japan, to show early and firm leadership in the protection and promotion of women’s rights, including by the critical step of implementing all recommendations of the CEDAW Committee.”

Women's Action 33.2: September 2009

September 23, 2009 - 12:30