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Film Censorship in Japan


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4th March


Film censors of Japan
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EIGA RINRI IINKAI aka EIRIN (Film Classification and Rating Committee) is an independent, non-governmental organization, which has been responsible for the classification of motion pictures since 1956.

When classifying films EIRIN considers eight criteria:

  • theme
  • language
  • sex
  • nudity
  • violence
  • horror
  • drug use
  • criminal behavior
  • context 

EIRIN has four categories

  • G stands for general viewing and means the film is suitable for audiences all ages
  • PG 12 means parental guidance is requested for those under 12 years of age
  • R 15+ is for only those 15 and above
  • R 18+ is only for those 18 and above.

Since EIRIN's rating system is based somewhat on the U.S. and British model, its age restrictions are similar, although the Americans and the British have more categories.

Softcore Sex

Japanese law forbids films from depicting sexual organs and indecent images of minors.

Censorship of sexually explicit content, however, led to the creation and popularity of soft-core porn, or pink films, starting in the 1960s. By the 1980s, however, adult videos had become the norm.

Because EIRIN banned the the display of genitalia or pubic hair, fogging it out or blurring it with a digital mosaic, the producers of pink films developed elaborate ways to self censor, using various props positioned at strategic locations to hide taboo areas.

Despite a drastic decline in the popularity of pink films in recent years, the genre still enjoys a cult following domestically and overseas.

Currently, EIRIN allows the screening of foreign films that display female or male genitalia if the material is not pornographic and fulfils certain conditions.

Hardcore Sex

In the case of adult porn videos and games, several self- regulating organizations are responsible for the screening process and with advising member companies on the changes needed to avoid breaking the law.

Such organizations include the Nihon Ethics of Video Association (Biderin), which was the oldest of the lot but ceased screening activities after it was raided by police in 2007, the Ethics Organization of Computer Software (Sofurin), and the Contents Soft Association.


EIRIN tasks five commissioners of various professional backgrounds with executing its policies, maintaining its category divisions and appointing examiners.

The management team consists of five staff members and nine examiners who are responsible for reviewing films and trailers, making category decisions, and advising on cuts or modifications.

According to Kiyotoshi Kodama, EIRIN's secretary general, at least two film examiners are responsible for viewing a single movie.

By simple arithmetic, considering that we handle around 600 films per year, a single examiner would view roughly 150 films during the course of a year, he said.

Kodama said that since the examiners base their evaluations on set principles, their ratings in most cases are unanimous.

But on those rare occasions when examiners disagree, or when the film's applicant objects to an assigned rating, a film can be brought back for further consideration by other examiners.

Although EIRIN has no legal power to ban a film, the rules stipulated by the Japan Association of Theatre Owners, which covers the owners of most of the nation's cinemas, forbids its members from screening films that haven't been classified and OK'd by EIRIN.

EIRIN's income is derived entirely from examination fees, which are currently Yen 2,740 (£20) per minute, plus tax.

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