the xlog : x-rated weblog

a twisted and humorous look at sex, pornography, and the world in general

December 14, 2007

Japan may allow banned Mapplethorpe book

Filed under: sex news — Blogs @ 6:57 am

Mapplethorpe bookThe Supreme Court in Japan has decided to hold an appeal hearing over a lawsuit filed over a custom seizure of a photo book containing nude male genitals at Narita Airport in 1999, opening up for the possibility it will overturn the previous Tokyo High Court ruling, a Kyodo News reports states.

The photo book in question, “Mapplethorpe” by renowned U.S. photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, had been published in Japan in 1994 by Tokyo movie distributor and publishing house “Uplink.” When the president of the company, Takashi Asai, brought the book with him to the United States and later tried to return with it to Japan, it was seized by custom officials at Narita Airport.

Asai is now seeking 2.2 million yen in damages, and is demanding that the court rule the seizure invalid.

At the first instance, the Tokyo District Court, it was ruled that the import ban on the book should be retracted and that the government should pay 700,000 yen in damages to the publishing house president. The Tokyo High Court however overturned that ruling, saying the book “unnecessarily provokes sexual appetite and is an obscene graphic work that goes against a sense of morals on sexuality.“

A similar lawsuit also filed by Asai on another Mapplethorne book ended in 1999 with the Supreme Court acknowledging it is legal for custom inspectors to ban the import of photo collections that can be deemed “obscene”.

The very same book has also been the subject of censorship in the U.K. – in 1998, it was confiscated by police from a Central England University student who was writing a paper on the works of Robert Mapplethorpe. The library from which the book was borrowed was told the book would have to be destroyed.

Another Mapplethorpe book, “Pictures,” was seized from an Australian bookshop by police in 2001.

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