Comics giants boycott Japanese anime event

TOKYO — The battle between the Japanese toon biz and the Tokyo city authorities escalated Friday.

Ten comics publishers, including industry powerhouses Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kadokawa, collectively announced on Friday that they are withdrawing from participation in the Tokyo Intl. Anime Fair, the biggest event of its kind in the toon biz.

Kadokawa earlier made an independent announcement that it was ankling the event, which is skedded for March 24-27, under the sponsorship of the Tokyo city government.

The publishers, which call themselves “Comic Ten Companies Association,” oppose a bill submitted to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Nov. 29 that would tighten restrictions on so-called “excessive sexual depictions” in toons and comics sold to youths under the age of 18. Strongly supported by Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, the bill, opponents claim, threatens freedom of expression.

“We strongly distrust the position of Governor Ishihara and (Tokyo) municipal authorities, which lacks respect for comics and animation creators,” the group said in a statement.

The withdrawal from TAF, on which Ishihara serves as executive committee chairman, is a statement of protest against the bill — one that, if the industry boycott spreads, could threaten the event’s success and even its existence.

Held annually since 2002, TAF last year recorded 132,492 visitors and 244 exhibitors, including 59 foreign companies.

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