In February, amazon japan unsubscribe two books from the non-fiction series Ariana Rika (Impossible Science) of Yakuri Kyushitsu. Yakuri Kyushitsu is the name of a group of science writers; they are notable for acting as consultants for the manga series DR STONE from the tenth volume onwards. The series is highly regarded by the science fiction community, having reached forty-ninth place Seiun Award in the non-fiction category.
The reason for removing the books? In response to a question from Sansai books, Amazon Japan responded that the book was deemed “harmful to young people” under the Tottori Prefectural law. As a result, Amazon Japan suspended all sales to prevent the book from being sent to Tottori. When Sansai Books asked Amazon Japan to relist the books, Amazon replied that it would only be possible if they were shelved as adult (18+) books. The publisher did not agree to the books being listed as mature material, and the two sides were unable to come to an agreement. The books, including the electronic versions, are not yet available on Amazon.
Sansai Books then contacted the Tottori Prefectural government to ask which part of the books were considered “harmful,” but received only a one-page summary of the Tottori Youth Healthy Development Ordinance review conference. In a subsequent communication, the contact said the decision was based on the “general content” of the books, not specific sections.
Generally, “adverse publication” designations can only be applied within the municipality, and therefore cannot be extended to sales outside the preemption. However, in October 2021, Tottori Prefecture revised its Healthy Youth Development Ordinance following the 2020 crossbow murder case in Hyogo Prefecture. This enabled the local government to ban the online sale of laminated toys and literature harmful to young people living in the prefecture.
In the past, works covered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Healthy Youth Development Ordinance have been blocked from online sales in ways that affect their nationwide distribution, but it is unusual for premises to have such far-reaching consequences laws in other preliminary rounds. In an article last week looking back at the saga so far, Sansai Books criticized the Tottori Prefectural government’s lack of transparency, arguing that the misuse of government powers has troubling implications for freedom of expression.
Sansai Books continues to sell the publications through its own online store, but regrets being removed from the Amazon list, noting that “90%” of its sales are made through the platform. The books Arienai Igaku Jiten Y Arienai Koousaku Jiten offer accessible instructions for creating “bombastic” inventions, such as medicines, electronics, and explosives, using commonly sold materials. The publisher emphasizes that the books do not support pseudoscience (and indeed contain critical parts of it), and do not contain content for adults.
font: Sansai books through THERE