Tokyo — Major industry players have made good on their threat to boycott the Tokyo Anime Fair, which is due to unspool March 24-27.

On Tuesday TAF execs revealed that 153 companies have signed up for the event, 40% down on the 244 companies that turned up last year. The number of booths is down from 615 to 491.

Players, including Kadokawa Publishing, Shueisha Publishing and Shogakukan, are protesting against a bill backed by the Tokyo city government to tighten restrictions on excessive sexual depictions in toons and comics. They claim the bill, passed by the Tokyo metropolitan assembly in December, threatens freedom of expression. The Tokyo city government is a sponsor of the anime fair.

The protesters, led by an umbrella org of 10 publishers, plan to hold a competing event, Anime Contents Expo, March 26-27 at the Makuhari Messe event space.

TAF said that of the companies signed up so far, 125 are domestic and 28 are foreign. Some 25 companies have definitely canceled 117 booths. TAF will close applications for booths at the end of February.