The president and CEO of manga publishing giant Kadokawa, Takeshi Natsuno has received heavy criticism in the past week for comments perceived as pro-censorship. On July 21st at an Abema Prime program, he said the following:
“A lot of Japanese manga won’t pass review at Google or Apple. So, while keeping that in mind, I do somewhat have the feeling that we have to re-establish the standards of what is okay to release and what isn’t for the internet era. In the publishing industry that I’m in, everyone is in the pro-freedom of speech camp, but I do get this strong feeling that we have to redraw the line somehow.”
The comments did not go over well with creators. Negima! creator Ken Akamatsu, who has previously spoken out about freedom of expression, commented, “It appeals to shareholders to conform to the standards of foreign capital.”
Novelist Mikito Chinen weighed in by saying:
“If [censorship] were to happen, then Japan’s manga and anime would lose all their predominance. Manga and anime are received well overseas because they were created with freedom and without consideration for what will do well there. It is quite dangerous for this kind of opinion to emerge from Kadokawa.”
Natsuno has since walked back his remarks and apologized. He said this is not the direction Kadokawa is going in, and he’s chosen to give himself a 20% pay cut from August-October as a personal punishment.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.