Publication Details

McLelland, M. J. (2013). Ethical and legal issues in teaching about Japanese popular culture to undergraduate students in Australia. Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 13 (2), 1-9.

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Interest in Japanese popular culture, particularly young people’s engagement with manga and animation, is widely acknowledged to be a driving factor in recruitment to undergraduate Japanese language and studies courses at universities around the world. Contemporary students live in a convergent media culture where they often occupy multiple roles as fans, students and ‘produsers’ of Japanese cultural content. Students’ easy access to and manipulation of Japanese cultural content through sites that offer ‘scanlation’ and ‘fansubbing’ services as well as sites that enable the production and dissemination of dōjin works raise a number of ethical and legal issues, not least infringement of copyright. However equally important are issues to do with the transnational consumption and production of Japanese cultural materials that are subject to different ratings systems and censorship. The sexualised content of some Japanese media, particularly in regard to representations of characters who may ‘appear to be’ minors, has become the site of increased concern in some countries, notably Canada and Australia where fictional depictions of child characters have been included in the definition of ‘child-abuse publications’. The ever expanding scope of this legislation has led to the recent arrest and prosecution of manga and anime fans in both these countries and in the US