The Tokyo Reporter

Crackdown on Japan’s porn industry raises fears studios may go underground

AV actress Saki Kozai spurred a crackdown on the industry by claiming last year that she was coerced to perform (Mainichi Shimbun)

TOKYO (TR) – For Japan’s adult video (AV) industry, the dominoes are starting to fall — one after another.

Last week’s bust of a production company Pierrot for the upload of illegal content is the latest bid by law enforcement to weaken the industry following claims of abuse made by women. But deep-rooted issues threaten swift reform, increasing the likelihood that productions may shift underground, reports Yukan Fuji via the Sankei Shimbun (Jan. 14).

On Thursday, Tokyo police arrested Chen Mei-li, the 67-year-old president of label Pierrot, for the alleged upload of unaltered content to Caribbeancom.com, which bills itself as a “premier adult porn site” specializing in uncensored videos.

A media source tells the paper that the bust is an example of law enforcement taking aim at the industry following last year’s emergence of allegations by a number of women, notably current actress Saki Kozai, who claim to have been forced to perform in the trade.

In June, Tokyo police arrested Norihide Murayama, the former president of talent agency Marks Japan, and two other persons for violating the Worker Dispatch Law by sending a woman to appear in an AV production against her will.

Following those arrests, 52 individuals, including AV actresses and the president of a production company, were referred to prosecutors on charges of indecent exposure in the filming of an AV production at a campsite in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The crackdown has not been restricted to film production personnel. In November, three presidents of talent agencies based in the capital were arrested for dispatching AV actresses to soapland bathhouses to serve as prostitutes. “They’re all being prosecuted one after another,” the media source says.

A push for change?

The developments are seen as a push for change from the ground up in an industry that churns out some 6,000 new stars and 4,000 titles each year.

Until now, actresses would typically visit a set with their manager and shooting would begin after negotiation, a source at an AV production company explains.

“But now, the likes of women’s support groups have been sending requests to AV makers to sign a consent-to-appear contract with the actresses once again on-site,” the source says. “Makers are aiming to comply as much as they can, but apparently some productions fall apart after the actresses change their minds while the content of the shooting and compensation are being explained.”

The sources goes on to say that complicating matters is the fact that DVDs are not selling anymore because the market has hit saturation regarding content and quantity. “Most makers want to be on healthy footing, but some makers push back against such developments because they can’t handle it,” the insider says. “In an industry that has thrived on searching for shortcuts, tighter regulations might lead to companies burrowing underground. There’s reason to worry about the rise of extreme productions, too.”

Calls to give up copyrights

Tougher regulations will deal a strong blow to AV-related companies. Human rights and support groups are pressing for studios to give up their copyrights on productions after a certain period of time.

However, archive content “being re-edited and released again is a drawback for women, but the copyright is a lifeline for makers,” a source working at a publication says.

The issue likely will not be settled swiftly. “Given how big of a revenue stream this was, it looks like this problem will be around for a while,” the source adds.

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