Kadokawa have apologized for their President’s comments suggesting manga would need to censor sexual scenes to be approved by Apple and Google reviews.
As previously reported, Takeshi Natsuno appeared in an interview with video streaming website AbemaTV; discussing Japanese gravure idols. He stated that manga had content that was more “extreme” than what is seen with gravure idols, and “This and other factors prevent Japanese manga from being reviewed by Google and Apple.”
“So, I feel that we need to redefine the standards of the Internet age and determine what is acceptable for the public and what is not,” Natsuno continued. “The publishing industry I’m in is full of libertarians, but I really feel like we need to rethink things.” Many on social media grew concerned over freedom of expression in manga being harmed in order to cater to a western companies’ standards.
However, Kadokawa have now issued an official statement (as reported by Nlab) apologizing for Natsuno’s comments. They also insist that the statement made “were not related to our business operation policy” (translation: DeepL).
Further, it seems Natsuni may have offered return some of his pay; no doubt a sign of good faith. You can find the full translated statement below.
“On July 21, Takeshi Natsuno, President and Representative Director of KADOKAWA Inc. (“the Company”), appeared on (hereinafter referred to as “the Company”), appeared on the Abema TV program on July 21, he participated in the program in his personal capacity.
However, as the President and CEO of the company, it was very inappropriate and he deeply regrets it. In addition, the series of statements he made in the program were not related to our business operation policy.
The series of comments made by the person in question in the program have no relevance to the business operation policy of the Company.
We take this matter very seriously, and have received a request from the person in question to return a portion of his compensation, which we have accepted.
We would like to inform you of the following.
(1) Subject and amount to be returned Takeshi Natsuno, President and Representative Director 20% of the monthly remuneration for directors
(2) Applicable period From August 2021 to October 2021 (3 months)
We at the Company will take the opinions we have received from you very seriously, and we will make every effort to ensure that all writers and creators, as well as readers and users, will be able to enjoy their works.
We will continue to promote our business by paying close attention to our authors and creators as well as our readers and users.
Thank you for your continued support of KADOKAWA.”
This is the second time Natsuno may have given Kadokawa a headache. On the subject of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games’ opening ceremony, they reported Natsuno had reportedly stated “Compared to the Olympics, such shitty piano recitals don’t matter.”
Some such as On Takahashi (CEO of Irodori Comics, who translate independent manga), have proposed the interview with AbemaTV was intended to help repair his public image after his prior comments, and appealed to the interviewers and what he believed was their audience.
Takahashi also cast doubt on whether Natsuno would have truly censored manga; as Kadokawa make a large amount of profit from light novels with sexual content. He also claims Bookwalker has more dominance than Apple or Google when it comes to selling manga in Japan and the west, and that digital sales help provide a more accurate image of how much fans really want sexual content.
Japanese manga and light novel authors have expressed their concerns about Japan’s freedom of expression being eroded by foreign influence. Record of Lodoss War author and creator Ryo Mizuno has expressed concerns that his works may be banned, after the “dark elf” episode of Community was removed from Netflix due to blackface.
Manga author Ken Akamatu (Love Hina) was invited to speak to the Japanese government; expressing his concerns of manga being “regulated by overseas standards,” while praising Japan’s “freedom of expression.” He expressed this concern once again during an online conference, adding his fears of political correctness.