Obscenity, Pornography, and Law in Japan: Reconsidering Oshima's 'In the Realm of the Senses'
Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal, vol. 4 (winter 2003), pp. 148-168.
21 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 17, 2012
This paper explores the question of constitutional regulation of violent content in expression from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing specifically how Japan attempted in postwar-era cinema to mediate its notions of individual rights of expression, in particular expressions considered obscene and/or violent, with demands of the greater public welfare. The watershed event in this process was the censorship trial of Nagisa Oshima, a Japanese filmmaker who was indicted on obscenity charges related to his 1976 film ‘In the Realm of the Senses.’ While the film presented graphic images intricately connecting elements of violent behavior with sexual behavior, cinematic interpretations and subsequent legal consideration of the film focused almost entirely on the degree to which it 'broke new ground' for sexual explicitness in a commercial film made for mainstream distribution which, as the paper points out, had several far-reaching implications for doctrinal treatment of free expression in both Japanese and American law.
Keywords: censorship, Japan, free expression, violence, sexuality, obscenity
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