YOKOHOMA, Japan -- Is it a protest lost in cultural translation or an alternative universe we have here? A Japanese video game company doesn't understand the uproar over its game RapeLay, where schoolgirls are attacked and forced to have sex.
As previously reported by AVN.com in March, Amazon joined eBay in banning the sale of “misogynistic and violent” adult video games, including RapeLay, in which the player stalks and rapes women for points If one of the rape victims becomes pregnant, the player must force her to have abortion, gaining the player further point.
The same Japanese game company, Illusion Studio, also created the title “Battle Raper” and claims its games are designed only for the market in Japan, though some Amazon marketplace sellers offered RapeLay in the U.S.
The site MobyGames.com blasted the Hentai-styled game, called it "very sick, very unhealthy," while Illusion has said there’s "nothing wrong with the game."
New York City Councilwoman Christine Quinn called for a ban of the video game, as did British Home Affairs office in London, applauding the Amazon decision.
New York-based Equality Now issued an online statement urging a barrage of complaints directed at the gaming company and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso. The organization also said the game violates Japan’s participation in the United Nations’ 1985 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women..
The game company claims it didn't need to know about U.S. game standards or restrictions because it does not market to America. That statement is contradicted by the fact it was for sale on Amazon until it was banned in February, though apparently, clips of the game can still be found on video sharing sites.
Spokesman Makoto Nakaoka of Yokohama-based Illusion, said, “We are simply bewildered by the move," adding that the game is legal in Japan, reports The Inquirer.
Nonetheless, Equality Now's Jacqui Hunt, speaking from its London office, called the game "extremely problematic at many levels.”
"The suggestion that the gamer has transformed the violent crime of rape into an act of sex indicates all too well the danger of objectifying and dehumanizing women and normalizing violence against them," Hunt said.
According to AP, Japan's gender equality bureau stated it "realizes the problem is there" and it is working on solutions.
International pressure is bearing down on Japan to tighten up legislation forbidding the production of child porn; the law does not make it illegal to own the material, which would include school girls sexually assaulted in the RapeLay game.
While Japan's law bans the production and sale of sexually explicit images of children under 18, it exempts animated and computer-generated content. And Japan has long been a hotbed of "Lolita"-styled sex fantasy comics, Hentai, anime and such. Creators of those materials might argue that the schoolgirls in such content are supposed to be over 18, but in the case of the RapeLay game a line is obviously crossed.
According to Japanese police reports in 2007, more than 300 Japanese children under 18 were identified as victims of child pornography, a figure up 20 percent from 2006 and the highest total since 1999, when law enforcement began tracking the statistics. While police prosecuted
25 child pornography cases in 1999, the figure shot up to a staggering 585 cases by 2006.
Also chiming in was Hiromasa Nakai, a spokesman for UNICEF Japan.
"The age of the Internet means it's impossible to confine anything to a specific market. People in Japan have to realize that what might be acceptable in one culture or context might not be acceptable in another," Nakai said, according to New Zealand's The Times. "In any case, many Japanese people have no idea what's on sale on their own doorstep, and RapeLay is only the tip of the iceberg."