Passing of Controversial Law Sparks Tension in AV Industry

Published : July 10th, 2022 Written by vienna

From producers to directors, industry observers to behind-the-scenes workers, the tension is palpable in the Japanese AV industry. It is well known by now of the recent success of the bureaucratic rigmarole surrounding a law that it is impossible not to describe as controversial and debated; the debate, however, did not occur in parliamentary chambers, which saw a deafening consensus, but rather in the meeting rooms and online forums of those who actually make a living out of this industry. And it has been a debate that has undeniably brought out a very clear position from the parties involved: a position of condemnation and disappointment with the institutions that, blind or complicit in deliberately damaging a thriving and participatory industry, have indeed made the contractual aspect of the production and release of new JAVs alarmingly complex.

As a result of a recent revision of the Civil Code, the age of adulthood in Japan has dropped from 20 to 18; however, one still needs to be 20 to do certain things, such as gambling. This measure, which has definitely seen a more heated discussion and more sustained coverage in Japan's traditional media, was followed by a controversial law regarding pornography. The object of the law is supposedly a noble one and one of unanimous consensus: preventing women and performers in general from being coerced to appear on-screen against their will, whether by direct coercion, pressure, or contractual obligation. Previously, sales of films involving actors who were 18 and 19 years old, and therefore not yet of age, could be crushed and stopped if the contracts were not countersigned by the actors' respective guardians. Since, as of today, they are considered to be of legal age, this protection no longer applies, with the newfound fear that the not-anymore minors may be coerced into working in pornography. In essence, lawmakers fear that a fraction of these individuals could be ensnared in screen appearance and—through a domino effect—not be protected by said measure.

In addition to the lowering of the age of adulthood, the reasons behind the law could include a supposed increase in the influx of 18-19 years old into the JAV world. However, industry observers note that actual 18 or 19 years are very rarely employed, if not at all.

Picture above represents the normal way of legislation in Japan.

The legislative process behind this bill is definable as suspiciously fast. Proposed bills such as these in Japan undergo years of parliamentary debate and deliberation before passing the legislative steps and being enacted; instead, this bill burned through the steps like few others.

The law—which was passed with broad support by six parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party, bringing both majority and opposition into agreement—applies to all claimants, regardless of their age and gender, and grants them some power in independently crushing their labor contract. Specifically, the law requires that at least one month must elapse between the initial signing of a contract and the start of filming of the movie; also, at least four months must elapse between the filming of the movie and the release of the video on the market. In both time intervals, actors will have the power to terminate the contract and cancel the release of the film. However, while production studios, distribution platforms and agencies can't promote the movie in any way until the interval has fully elapsed, according to legal experts this limitation wouldn't be applied to performers. Technically, performers would include the male cast as well.

During the four months between filming and release of the movie, performers and staff will not get compensated. This could severely hinder the survival of smaller studios.

Performers would also be locked into their production contract after it is minted a month prior.

In addition, the law requires studios to make the pornographic nature of the footage very clear on the contracts. Failing to make explicit the details deemed relevant under the law, and thus failing to comply with contractual obligations, can lead to up to six months of imprisonment and fines of up to one million yen. Such details regard, for instance, the possibility to incur in doxxing attacks and sexually transmitted diseases. Finally, the law stipulates that interested parties are subject to very steep penalties for pressuring or slandering the actors should they decide within the time intervals specified above to cancel the release of the film. Penalties are up to 3 million yen. Corporations of certain sizes are subject to up to 100 million yen in fines. The bill also requires implementing preventive medical and safety background checks on the cast at the time of hiring.

AV doesn't have a competent authority and is mostly self-regulated. Of course, this bill "doesn't make JAV illegal", as some feared; however, the legislation—in the way it is currently written, at least—could suggest further actions and regulations by the lawmakers on the AV industry as a whole. It's also worth noting that the bill links the AV industry to the more predominant matter of pay-for-sex jobs, which are, in the case of sexual intercourse, illegal in Japan.

Among other things, a petition opposing the enactment of the law, which has already collected thousands of signatures and gained wide support from aggrieved parties, was opened to the public shortly after the law was passed. Petitions are a tool that sometimes do not get a real-world response, but they still manage to give weight and volume to a voice that should be imperative for lawmakers to listen to. It is important to note that the petition agrees with the reasons lying behind the law, but rejects and strongly criticizes the impositional and restrictive means employed to achieve the lawmaker's goal. Twitter sensations are also quite active on the matter, with some influencers and AV stars taking the lead in informing the public about the many, different issues regarding the law, and the drastic consequences its implementation would have on the industry. Industry leaders also criticized the way some of the statements included in the bill are phrased, deeming them inappropriate, or inaccurate.

'AV' trended on Twitter just after the passing of the law. Many actresses expressed their concern over the proposed legislation. Some say that the bill was actually a result of heavy lobbying; others say that the lawmaker's intentions backfired as the huge support in favor of a reformulation of the law grew by the day. A deadly cocktail of eager politicians, noisy anti-porn authorities, and the drop of the age of adulthod are to blame for the result. This is how a highly stigmatized, self-regulating, law-abiding industry becomes the perfect victim for someone else's game, whether it is to gain consent or votes.

It is the opinion of this writer and this platform that it is extremely important that those involved in the production of pornographic material be protected under the law, in a manner that prevents potential coercion and dangerous situations for the parties involved; it is also supposed to be in the common interest that the production, filming, and release of JAVs be carried out in an environment where there is full mutual respect and consent, whether or not bound by contractual structures. However, as has been well-publicized by the parties involved, the new impositions about the timelines between hiring, filming, production, and subsequent release, and the restrictive measures against them are the glaring example of over-regulation that, in moving toward a just cause, erodes the business continuity of producers, directors, performers and all those who work in the industry, and who will compulsorily have to be subjected to exaggerated measures that will undermine the wellbeing of the entire industry.

The following are ZENRA's admin thoughts about the law.

The most ironic aspect of the ‘New AV Law’ as it’s being called is the winners:  not the vocal anti-porn groups nor the politicians who voted on it.  The winners are both the underground domestic adult video industry (known as ‘Doujin JAV’) and uncensored JAV as both work well outside of the agency system mainstream JAV uses and what this law was made to apply to.  Adult video is too much a part of modern Japanese culture to vanish no matter what any proclaimers of doom/certain Human Rights Lawyers with potentially imaginary clients may tweet.  If mainstream agencies have to be tougher with their screening of new applicants, rejected women who want to do porn will eventually find a way to do it either via these Doujin/UC directors or on their own via the nascent adult creator outlets that even in Japan are becoming popular.

What neither anti-porn activists nor politicians can fathom is no, women are not being made to do porn.  They’re not being exploited.  They’re not even being scouted in any meaningful number.  A recent report noted almost all those who appear in JAV do so via applying to agencies, not the other way around.

Assuming all women in porn are victims is a viewpoint that is not compatible with feminism.  This is where at least I can understand old school Japanese politicians still passing a law on that premise makes sense.  Those who believe that women can do things men can do just as well (if not better) are doing a disservice to their gender by assuming any who spread their legs on camera are doing so because a big, bad man made them.  

Women do porn in Japan (and most likely elsewhere in the world) because it pays well and gives them power.  They’re treated like royalty on set and make more in a day in some cases than a regular job will pay them in a month.  And why is that?  Why is it nowadays starting salaries are so poor?  The anti-porn groups who promote ‘Human Rights’ should focus on social issues like ensuring the youth of Japan receive a realistic living wage upon adulthood.  If one is making enough to live happily, maybe that would lead to the type of society these groups want through natural means.  Attacking porn—a legal industry that in this author’s opinion nearly every single adult with a healthy libido makes use of at least once in awhile--is just smacking a low-hanging fruit again and again.  It’s not the cause of society’s ills, it’s for now at least the solution.


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asianl 1 year ago
There is one thing as a western viewer I can't understand. You can literally make everyone happy - the goverment, JAV studios, girls and the fans at once..

1. Set the entry age for porn to 21.
2. For rookies (first official movie ever) make them wait one moth after signed contract and 4 months untill her first official release (exactly what they proposed in this law). If an actress has alteast one movie this law shouldn't affect her - she is already aware what the industry is and making her wait 4 month after each movie is just idiotic and pointless (because she can't make any money during that time).
3. Everything should be stated in the contract (what will be filmed - tags like: deepthroat, anal etc..). Exactly what they proposed in this law.
4. A video must be recorded with each girl (5-10 mins) about the upcoming movie (before shooting). Why? Paper will take everything. They should ask specific questions and get a vocal agreement.
5. Take off the censored law. Controversial, right?
If contract states (an actress agreed to that) they should release 2 versions - censored (everything is the same as it is right now) and uncensored. Uncensored version should cost twice as the default version (with a higher tax). Actress would get paid more as well.
6. Probably impossible to achieve but they should open JAV industry to the world. I'm pretty sure it gives (the country) A LOT of money in taxes per year. Imagine if they would open to the world with the uncensored movies. By "opening" I mean easy way to pay for their movies outside of Japan. Have your cake and eat it.

In my opinion they are trying to kill JAV industry unfortunately making everything much harder than it should be (for studios and actresses). I'm not going to be surprised if we will see more uncensored movies/companies like Car...ean or Pa...mama due to this stupid changes. Its going to either kill or open new ways to avoid law in Japan.
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ZENRA 1 year ago

Excellent reply!

Allow me to comment on your statements.

1: Mainstream, Doujin, UC, and all forms of ‘night work’ almost always shy away from anyone under 20. No need to cement the age of ‘21’ for doing this type of work as that would probably lead to many legal headaches for all parties.

2. Point of the law in its initial form I believe. Was modified to cover all performers which is where issues have cropped up. And of course, YMMV how this is being followed outside of mainstream JAV (and this doesn’t mean UC, for example, is full of bad guys out to deceive naive women. From what I have seen it’s more of “actor/directors who don’t bother and women who know darn well what they’re getting into and don’t want to sit around waiting).

3. In mainstream at least, this has been standard since 2016.

4. “ “

5. Will never happen in this generation at least due to industry self-regulation.

6. Many factors make this easier said than done. Quickly: lack of IT knowledge, lack of English skills, tons of potentially NG content (see my R18 post regarding JCB on this). On the flip side, due to mosaic and the language barrier, it remains questionable just how popular JAV actually is outside of Asian countries. JAV fans—myself included—may have a slightly warped view of this.

Per more uncensored coming out, this is already been happening. I’ve noted here and there that we’re living in an UC golden age. There has never been more UC appearing on FC2 than right now for example. I will give you that in terms of ‘professional’ quality UC, things have seemed pretty flatlined forever. There may be a small subset of producers who have that skillset and are fine with sticking with UC when they can probably find little issues with going ‘legal’ and working with established mainstream studios.

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asianl 1 year ago
ad. 5.
"Due to industry self-regulation" Why do you mean by that? They are willing to make censored videos?
ad. 6
I mean... Bitcoin exists.. but to be honest all these point are really doable but they need to be willing to try and go for it. I don't see them wanting to though. Also I think JAV would be very popular without censorship. Censorship is the only reason why western people are not familiar/interesed in JAV.

On the other note I wonder if these changes will hit the industry hard. I'm already noticing that there are very few releases of unusual porn. By unusual I mean every kind of fetish that is not ordinary / daily like anal, public exposures (those were popular early in the 00th - gold times imo) or even xxxxx (enki series had a lot of that and its been kinda very popular genge in JAV for some reason). Even fetish japan stated they are not going to release anything with nudity which was very surprising to hear.
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ZENRA 1 year ago

Don't under-estimate just how incredibly self-regulated mainstream JAV is (basically anything with an IPPA watermark). The system has worked very well until this Law was passed in lighting time with extremely minimal insights from the industry.

Per alternative payments: not needed in Japan. If card payments ever became an issue, bank transfer and other non-card methods exist and can be easily integrated.

Per public: the real golden age of public nudity JAV was the early to mid 2000's. Studio self-regulation has made real deal public shooting a thing of the past.

Per Fetish-Japan: not shooting nudity probably is not related to any laws, but $$$ and what their fans want.

When in doubt, it's not the law or regulations that change things, but money.

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Dr 1 year ago
Hi is bdsm, femdom and s&m considered porn in Japan or it classified as something else. From what l have read of the explanation of the new laws and regulations it seems to be aimed at protecting women, does it also protect men who no longer want to participate in movies where

(edited by admin)
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ZENRA 1 year ago

I very well know the studio you are referring to and believe it or not, those guys REALLY want those things being done to them. There is a vibrant 'slave' culture both in Japan and in the west. Some men--especially those who are well off financially--get off on being totally dominated upon. Per your question though regarding the law, it covers all performers though of course during all discussions in the Diet, doing porn was associated mainly with skeevy older men and naive, innocent women because they don't know any better.

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jackfromdownunder 1 year ago
Interesting times in the JAV industry, the author makes some very good points, the best has to be the fact that the vast majority actresses are willingly working in the industry and not as the anti porn brigade claim - coerced, xxxxxx or any other excuse, which makes us wonder what the real purpose of that group really is?
The fact that these actors/actresses will not get paid until the video has been publicly launched, leaves the question what will they do for income until then - hostess bars? , street work? , soaplands?
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ZENRA 1 year ago

It's more than "vast". According to AV Jinken, the independent organization that handles delistings, since they began in 2016, there has been only one case of coercion and even that one wasn't exactly cut-and-dry. Our industry in spite of what some activists claim is surprisingly boring, by-the-books, and most important, populated by people giving their full, informed consent.

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jav_minded 1 year ago
Hello, admin. We plan to share the news for our Indonesian readers, can you help giving a more like step-by-step tutorial purchasing with GoPay? Thank you.
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ZENRA 1 year ago

Hello, it's simply via the XanPay method we have on our join page. If you don't see it, use a private tab. GoPay is integrated in their interface so it should be very easy for any user to use it.

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arpaschad 1 year ago
Sooo, TL;DR Japanese Laws now have a shade of Western ''equality'' rearing it's head and the AV industry is in danger of future regulations or sanctions...
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drk 1 year ago
How likely do you think is some backdoor revision of the law in the near future (say months)? For example making these timelines apply only to the 18-19 year olds?

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ZENRA 1 year ago

I'm not sure about that, but I don't see this law really being enforced in any meaningful way.

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drk 1 year ago
I hope that you are right, but tbh taking a look at dates of contract, shoot, and release is too easy to do...
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