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Friday, November 06, 2015 

Political correctness affects manga mascots in Japan

Some of the arguments about overly sexual manga in Japan are legitimate, depending whom it's being marketed to, but here's one case from the island country where a municipality overreacted over a cartoon girl who's served as a city mascot:
The Japanese city hosting a G7 summit has dropped its official mascot after complaints that the character is sexist and inappropriate.

The city of Shima, where leaders such as Barack Obama and Angela Merkel will meet in May, said it was withdrawing official recognition from 17 year-old mascot Aoshima Meg.

Shima’s real ama divers, who are mainly women in their 60s, have complained that the cartoon character’s suggestive attire and proportions trivialise their profession.

The case highlights concerns about the overtly sexual cartoons widespread in Japan, as well as drawing attention to an ageing workforce in traditional occupations such as pearl diving. The UN recently called on Japan to ban manga cartoons that show the sexual abuse of children.

[...] Fumiko Yamamoto, 66, a pearl diver, told broadcaster NHK: “We want PR to find successors for the ama of Shima, but this character is just too far from what we actually look like. I’m so happy they’ve removed the designation.”

Hundreds of ama divers in Shima signed a petition calling for the withdrawal of the character introduced in October last year. Ama, who do not use breathing apparatus, have dived for pearls in Japan for centuries.

Hidekazu Oguchi, mayor of Shima, said 70 per cent of ama supported Meg but in deference to the other 30 per cent the city was withdrawing its official backing.

Meg’s creators said they had received expressions of support from across Japan, so they would not change the design, and she would remain as an unofficial mascot for the city.
I've looked at the official illustration for Aoshima Meg, and this is hardly the most sexually suggestive drawing you can find for an anime girl out there. The 17-year-old is dressed in a classic kimono with a sash, holding a basket for carrying pearls. And if a majority of divers have no problem with the character, then the mayor's making himself look like a dummy by appeasing a minority's petty complaints anyway. And I'm sure there are some younger ama who've practiced so that, by the time they're older, they become experienced pros.

As for complaints about manga stories that make light of sexual abuse, that's a valid issue, and no decent person should waste time on any junkpile that sensationalizes the topic. But who are the UN to make these complaints, when they've long turned their back on cases of sexual violence in real life, including those committed by their own workers? If all they can worry about is immorality in entertainment, then it just shows how unserious they really are. Cheap excuses is what the UN is all about.

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