Ono-approved DVDs violate industry guidelines

TOKYO — Japanese police have arrested Katsumi Ono, the chief censor of the Nihon Ethics of Video Association, together with four other vid biz figures on charges of allowing adult DVDs into the market that violate the industry org’s own obscenity guidelines. Two of the arrested, Hiroyuki Gorokawa and Yukio Umezawa, are prexies of DVD production companies. This is the first such bust of a censorship body official.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department charge Ono with passing two adult titles submitted by Gorokawa’s company, h*m*p, in July and August of 2006, without properly censoring sex scenes. Nearly 13,000 copies of the two titles entered the market. Police also say that Ono took no action even after DVD shops notified the org about problems with the two DVDs. Ono denies the charges, though the other four suspects have reportedly admitted their complicity .

Japanese censors use digital masking — locally called mosaics — to obscure sexual organs in adult vids. Police say that the mosaics of the two DVDs in question did not sufficiently hide the on-screen action.

The Nihon Ethics of Video Association has been rapidly losing members as adult DVD companies, under pressure from censorship-free Internet porn, migrate to new orgs with looser standards. In the past two years, DVD shipments by NEVA companies have declined by 40 percent. Desperate to halt the decline, the org has evidently winked at its own obscenity guidelines — and drawn the attention of the police.

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