Mangaka turned politician Ken Akamatsu reportedly revealed in the summary of a public note that he considered the protest of UN Women against The Nikkei’s Tawawa on Monday’s advertisement on April 11, 2022, an act of “unjustified expression regulation”.
“There is no basis for the allegations of ‘strengthening stereotypes’ and ‘encouraging sexual exploitation’ by creative works, which are premised on protesting this advertisement, and this protest is an unjustified expression regulation, ” said Akamatsu.
UN Women director Kae Ishikawa stated in the letter that the protest was merely an objection to the violation of the covenant, and that “UN agencies do not monitor and restrict the behaviour of all private companies in general”.
However, Akamatsu explains that UN took an issue with the ad that was published and asked the Nikkei to review its advertising standards. This demand to Nikkei for reviewing the ad seems more like a message that says the “advertisement should not be placed in the paper”, which is clear sign of restriction or regulation of ‘freedom of expression’.
In addition, UN Women alleged the character Ai-chan’s image will “strengthen the stereotype that high school girls should be like this (sexually appealing)” which may result in “the danger of encouraging men to sexually exploit underage women”.
On this matter, Akamatsu stated that such an accusation is unlikely as there has been no manga that started a war or made someone a murderer. He added that there is no rational basis or scientific reasoning that the organization has presented as proof of such accusations.
“Whatever the content of the creation, we creators cannot write / draw anything if there is a danger that the person who reads it will cause what is happening in the creation or the content. In reality, I’ve never heard of manga promoting war or encouraging murder. Why is the grounds for such irrational regulation argued so high only in manga depicting high school girls? I would like you to provide a rational reason and scientific basis.”
The manga author points out that in the article posted by The Huffington Post on April 16 regarding the matter, it was not clear whether the revision of the publication standards for newspaper advertisements was really requested due to the “violation of the rules”.
He feels “this protest is a typical “external pressure” and must be thoroughly opposed in order to protect freedom of expression.”
The ad featuring protagonist Ai-chan received a lot of criticism online following its publication on April 4.
The official Twitter account of Comic Natalie posted an article of the same and it received negative opinions, indicating the character is “promoting the sexualization of women”, “catering to pedophiles,” and “creepy uncles and fathers”.
The Nikkei’s PR office told The Huffington Post that the company is aware of the current issue surrounding the ad, but that the company does not comment on specific ad placement decisions.
In light of the internet debate, Kodansha responded, “In order to attract new readers, the advertisement was posted in conjunction with the release of the new book. We take your comments seriously and will give full consideration to the future development of our advertising.”