The Ethics Organization of Computer Software, Japan’s PC game rating agency, has called for a halt to the retail sale of videogames that simulate rape.
The ban appears to be the culmination of events that began in February, when two copies of the Japanese game RapeLay accidentally appeared on Amazon.com. Despite its nearly immediate removal and the fact that it was designed exclusively for the Japanese market, outrage quickly followed from sources including British Parliament, the New York City Council and the international women’s rights group Equality Now.
Equality Now actually launched a campaign calling for the Japanese government to ban the sale of games that feature “rape, stalking or other forms of sexual violence or which otherwise denigrate women.” The group said the games violate Japan’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women to “eliminate works that normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.”
Amazingly, according to the Canned Dogs blog (which translated the original Tokyo Broadcasting System report), this particular genre is estimated to make up 10-20 percent of the Japanese PC game industry and the EOCS had not previously considered it a problem. But with the pressure growing, the organization has now decided to comply with the demand and seek a ban not just on the retail sale of such games but also their development by any of its more than 200 members.
The new measures take effect on June 2, although it may not be enough to satisfy critics: Like the ESRB in North America, the EOCS is a voluntary organization and the ban is not legally binding.