Out of Japan: On a matter of pubic concern
Monday 15 August 1994
The latest attempt to tickle the public's fancy is by a fashion photographer, Akira Gomi, who published Yellows Privacy '94 last week. It contains nude shots of 25 young women, accompanied by photographs of the interiors of their flats, their wardrobes, even the contents of their refrigerators and bathroom cabinets. 'I wanted to record their privacy,' Mr Gomi told a magazine.
The ground-breaking 'hair nude' photo-book, which portrayed an 18-year-old Japanese-Dutch actress, came out in 1991. It sold out within days and was followed quickly by one featuring another young actress. The police, who are responsible for controlling pornography, did not attempt to stop the circulation of either book, so the nation's publishers took the cue, and suddenly pubic hair was springing up everywhere.
But the industry quickly discovered how fickle salacious public interest can be. Last year Linda Yamamoto, a 42 year-old singer, thought she would make some extra cash by posing unadorned for a photo book. Soon after it appeared, a radio show in Osaka received complaints from listeners - not about the nudity per se, but about its lack of appeal. The ageing starlet was outraged, and is suing the radio station for 100m yen (pounds 670,000) for defamation, and for damaging the sales of her book.
For decades Japan's obscenity laws contained bizarre contradictions. No publication could show pubic hair or genitals. But rape, under-age sex, graphic depictions of blood and guts: all were tolerated. A minor industry was spawned by the pubic-hair ban: importers of foreign pornographic magazines had to employ teams of people to use wire brushes to scrub out any strand of the forbidden fleece from each page of each magazine.
The police still deny that they have given up the ban on showing pubic hair. According to a spokesman for the National Police Agency, there is still a line of obscenity which they will not allow publishers to cross, although he was vague on where this line is drawn. 'It depends on how the hair nude is depicted, and whether it is artistic or not,' he said.
In theory, the standard for judging whether published material is obscene is a 1957 decision by the Supreme Court on D H Lawrence's novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover. The court ruled that the novel offended the Criminal Code by purposefully stimulating sexual desire, inhibiting the normal sense of sexual shame, and being contrary to a healthy moral sense. The work is still subject to censorship.
But in the wider world of pornography, the idea of a game warden coyly entwining forget-me-nots in the maidenhair of his lover has been far outstripped by snakes, wigs and other stage props.
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 4 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
James Foley 'beheaded': PM cuts holiday short for emergency meeting on British response to latest Isis atrocity
Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...
£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...
£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...