Renowned photographer Leslie Kee arrested in Japan over obscene photos


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That law is stupid and outdated anyways. I always thought it was funny that in a country that is so ensconced with sex somehow the twig and berries and the vag is too offensive.

28 ( +33 / -5 )

Yes matthew, please no more pixelation in Av movies heh.

2 years????? Wow thats more than one can get with a more serious crime

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Looks like something that would happen under Taliban rule.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

Japan NEEDS TO GROW UP!! A male PENIS oh my god! There are FESTIVALS here in Japan where the native Japanese run around yelling wasshoi wasshoi as they care huge Ochinchins made from TREES, and they sell cocksicles, kind of like popsicles that we used to buy as kids, but yes these frozen treats come in the shape of cocks! The festival is something about fertility why in the heck is it ILLEGAL to take pictures of a male penis?? A female vagina?? Put all those stupid pixels over the best part of your average Japanese porn video?? Just so stupid!

38 ( +48 / -10 )



3 ( +9 / -6 )

Well, they were selling them at a gallery, so perhaps they thought the work would be classified as "art" and allowed to slip in under the regulatory radar...

Still, sometimes less is more...

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

No arguement from me.... its porn no matter who puts it in a can.

-22 ( +7 / -29 )

any link to the digital book or pics?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

When did this law happen? About 10 years ago there was a big Robert Mapplethorp exhibition showing lots of those "things", not in small book form, but in huge wall size pictures. I was in junior high school and they let me in (no I was not traumatized). And you can still buy uncensored Robert Mapplethorp books at certain bookstores in Aoyama.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Elbuda - +1 because you show spirit :)) yeah fight them until they give you your uncensored porn....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yet obscene and explicit manga is OK? Japan has some weird standards.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

This is a seriously ridiculous law that has been outdated for so long. Anyone can watch whatever they want on the internet and I can't believe they are wasting time arresting the photographer who do absolutely no harm

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Balls out

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Under Japanese law pictures of genitals must be obscured, a process usually done through pixellation, which has given rise to its own genre of pornography

Yes and this pixelation has also given rise to herbivore Japanese men, who balk and run a mile when they see a ladies frontal bottom in it's full umpixelated glory !

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Censorship is supposed to be unconstitutional, although the Supreme Court refuses to uphold the law.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The ridiculous thing is that they sell Porn Magazines in convenience stores depicting any kind of sick sexual fantasy, and then worry about pixellation of art work in a gallery? Shouldn't we award the Japanese system with the No.1 Global Award in Hypocrisy? Too ridiculous, really ...

11 ( +12 / -1 )

never ceases to amaze me how the Jcops get worked up about this yet never quite manage to make a meaningful dent on the child porn that comes out of Japan...

11 ( +13 / -2 )

or fined up to 2.5 million yen: small price to pay for the publicity this arrest is going to get them!

Brings back memories of the scandalous photo book of Rie Miyazawa, in around 1992, which sold VERY well, and the special-for-Japan pixilated version of Madonna's box.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

2 years in the slammer makes sense for this. Japan is probably the least morally inhibited country on the planet yet continue with this outdated fashion of not daring to show the pubes. What's up with that, anyway? Poor adults, have to turn to animated characters to see what ought to be completely normal.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

We have this & yet possession of child porn is legall.......................seriously messed up, but hey thats Japan

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Silly law, but he should have been aware of it, not to mention the Japanese publisher.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Hope his trial and possible sentence makes worldwide headlines. But it won't happen and I predict that not wanting to lose face, the Japanese courts will find him guilty and give him a slap on the wrist.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


-6 ( +3 / -9 )

There are A LOT of totally nude female statues around Japan even inside train stations. No mozaiku there, it's art. No wonder J men get excited when they see a hint of a bra or a thread of a panty. Agree with everyone. There is no other country with such level of hypocrisy. "Soap massage parlors" right next to koban (Sinjuku) are daijyobu but male cucumbers and meat balls in art photos are "obscene".

Why? Because there was never any sexual revolution in the 60s in Japan. Check how little is covered in Wiki So Japan continues in a confusing and ambiguous path either conservative/childishly shy or extremely dirty/porn as if human sexual behavior can only be either of the two. Notice the absence of anything erotic anywhere and how women on TV desperately try to cover up in case "something" might show. Once the Great Master Araki departs for a different dimension it's welcome absolute monopoly of Disneyland and AKB.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

That photographer is a freaked pervert.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

women on tv, cover up ? what ? unless you watching midday kids programs I am not really sure what you are talking about

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And there's a huge Aida Makoto retrospective on right now at the Mori Art Museum in which adolescent girls are depicted naked, maimed, and abused in various sexual poses. There are images of naked women, photographic and non photographic, in every imaginable suggestive pose, and they're also sold at the museum shop. Why isn't Aida being arrested-- his stuff is actually problematic and not done in the same honest kind of spirit that Kee's is. And what of all the art students around Japan who shoot nude photos regularly as part of their creative work? What about the Mapplethorpe books, the Nan Goldin books, the Araki books, the various nude photograph books of men all over this country? What about images of naked men taking baths? This is NORMAL!!!!

This isn't just about porn, it's a crackdown on the eroticization of the male body itself, which is not just homophobic, it's a paranoid move because the patriarchal power base of Japan is feeling sorely threatened by this kind of representation AND the fact that it so popular with the public. And it's ironic, because it was this kind of male erotica that was popular among the same ilk of masculinist elites in Japan up until the early 1900s at least.

In the end I am sure that this will lead to even more male nudity in art and photography actually, just like the famous case against Oshima Nagisa confronted all kinds of themes of nudity and sex in films. Censorship cases like this-- including those against Robert Mapplethorpe or Allen Ginsberg in the US--were actually revolutionary turning points for gay visibility and expression as well. What makes me ache in this case, however, is that Leslie Kee is the nicest guy, a great artist and photographer who does respectful and highly respected work-- and, because he's not Japanese-- they can easily deport him and really ruin his career. Now, if Lady Gaga and Matsutoya Yumi and all those big celebrities who Leslie photographed all rally behind him and shame the Japanese government into rethinking it's stance, then we will really see the beginnings of a gender and sexuality public revolution here that is long overdue.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You have to know that Japanese authorities can't tell the difference between "art" and porn. They also can't tell the difference between adult actors and children in porn since 18 year old are considered children. Then they also miss every year "Kanamara Matsuri" so are they going to arrest all those participates in Kawasaki in April? Seems you can get repricas of all those pixelated parts in Japanese porn and even a lolipop.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Magazines and DVDs of school children in bikinis is ok but art is obscene?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

tsunagarist, you seem very well informed. Do you think it's possible that someone in Kee's promotion retenue made a call in to the police, to get the ball rolling? For the sake of publicity?

Is Japan where he lives, works, and the base from which he's building (such that being deported would be a massive blow), or is this just one market, of many, from which he can launch to (bigger) global reknown, from making headlines around the world, due to Japan's silly anti-porn laws.

If the former, he's got my sympathies, and I'd kick in to a legal defence fund. I tend to be cynical though, and suspect the latter. Please let me know if I'm wrong.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

(PS: I'd google him myself, but I'm at work, and afraid of what might come up in a search of his name !!)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I love how they have phallic shapes at Temples or Shrines (I forget which) and you can't show a penis around here. But it's OK for Ossan to take a leak where ever they please, and in plain sight of everybody else. You have mixed onsen here and nobody bats an eye, but a picture of it is a sin. Are Japanese actually Muslim, because they're not allowed to have any living object depicted in art, pictures, etc...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is a stupid law and not consistent with reality in Japan, but nevertheless remains a law so the satsu enforce it. Happens all over the world with dumb laws.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is there any device in the market that can " eliminate " the moving pixels ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@taj-- Leslie Kee is not some back alley photographer shooting pornographic shots. He has major exhibitions in big and major public venues, like Omotesando Hills near Harajuku and Aoyama. He is well known for his amazing portraits of some of Japan's biggest celebrities, including Matsutoya Yumi and many other women. He's also photographed Lady Gaga and other foreign celebrities. Often these celebrities are photographed nude, but the images are not particularly sexual. And even if they are suggestive, it's been definitely on the "art" side of suggestive, rather than some sort of pornographic smut-- displayed in major galleries and sold in very upscale art book shops. More recently he's gotten into shooting male celebrities and ordinary models or guys off the street who happen to be very handsome, and often these shots are nude, too. But there's no difference with what he's been doing for the past decade or more in his work. And in fact this work has also garnered a lot of praise from the gay community in Japan, because they feel he's standing up for their rights and representation, as an openly out, gay artist who tries to express male aesthetic beauty as a counter to all the media saturation of women. But it's ART.

So in response to your question as to whether it would be someone in his promotion retinue, I highly doubt it. The guy is famous enough. He doesn't need some scandal to launch his career. But he's also not ridiculously famous. He's just very popular, well-liked, very accessible, and a very talented photographer. So it's hard not to think they're scapegoating him for something else. And he's been selling these books already for several years as art books. Another article states that the police got the tip from reading his public facebook fan page. And yes, he is Singaporean but he lives in Japan with his partner, and Tokyo is his main base of operation. Deporting him would be devastating to his career and his personal life, too, I'm sure.

4 ( +5 / -1 )


1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Tepco guys are only started to be investigated for being d*cks years ago, and that guy only showed photos of one is already arrested... Japanese justice has a weird sense of priority.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In the world's second biggest producer of pornography, where magazines with titillating shots of schoolgirls in bikinis and underwear are sold openly; where comics depicting children raped by tentacled sea-creatures are freely available on convenience store shelves but would be banned under most international child porn laws, they want to arrest a art photographer for a picture of a tallywhacker? Bravo, Japan. Hypocrisy at its finest.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I still think at least his Japanese publisher should have been aware of how the law is applied here.

Still, it is kind of strange that while the cops arrest this guy, they are busy regulating traffic at the Kanamara Matsuri:

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I really doubt that Kee's publisher would have been worried about obscenity charges. Even if the law talks of mosaic to blur out genitals, this has only really been applied to pornographic material--and artwork and art books are widely considered to fall beyond this frame. Kee was not depicting sexual acts or pornographic settings-- The laws themselves are archaic, and in practice this is just one of those things that people usually seem to turn a blind eye to in recent decades, unless it's a depiction of children or something explicitly sexual. But that's not what this is, effectively. This is explicitly police anxiety about the portrayal of the male nude body, despite the widespread depiction of the fully exposed (and hairy) nude female body in popular magazines and books all over Japan. I am sure it caught the publisher and gallery off guard because these kinds of works and books are now widely published and sold in Japan. Kee is but one of many artists who have been successful in this genre. Go to any art book store in Japan and see for yourself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan grow up. Or if you don't want to see such terrible parts of the body, which I think most of use have anyways, don't look. Please don't tell me what I can or can't look at. Censorship is NOT freedom!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He should have waited to sell that book down at the Fertility Festival in Kawasaki. I never see them arrest anyone who is selling those explicit candy and toys on the display.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

outdated fashion of not daring to show the pubes

Yes they can show the "pubes" but not much else.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ridiculous law. Just another way to make some extra cash for the police coffers ! This is against the law but dude across from me on the train can fold his paper outwards exposing a half naked women posing for the perverts that by them ?? Or better yet some of these manga aren't censored very well because I've seen some pretty lewd pictures depicting extreme porn in scenes ...also on the train with no regard for the women's feelings around them.

Stupid law ....just a money grab.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm from Singapore, but I say the law is the law. Until it is changed to accommodate artistic pictures of private sexual parts, they have to answer to it. Hope they get smart lawyers to get just a fine.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

obvious double standards...gonna make an example outta them

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In this case, it is the law which is pornographic, which is defined as "serving no useful social function."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A stupid arrest. Arrested for selling it to people who wanted to buy it. I get porn adds in my face every day I commute to work. What the heck is up with this crap? Penis festivals... Dildos and vibrators for sale beside head-phones.... Come on J-Law get with reality.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Onsen and sento are fine to be naked in. But genitals in AVs or books oh no!!!! Stupid law and seriously outdated! Why should we be ashamed of something that's a part of our body?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey - everyone! You ALL have made relevant moral and artistic points!

Now the bad news: I agree with Taj - if the artist's agents didn't actually orchestrate this publicity, they not wringing his hands over it either.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

outrageous. free him right away!! art is nothing to be censored to begin with–and sexual organs are the most natural things on Earth. this sexual organ phobia that Japan has really needs some prompt and efficient cure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hahaha! Japan the biggest producer of pornography in the world and child pornography, has double standards!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Well it seems that America and Japan do have something in common both would rather allow violent moves in the theater than allow one photo of a naked human body get out

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is stupid. Great publicity for Japan. Look at how backward we are.  

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Personally, pictures of genitalia to not count as "porn" any more than a picture of a hand counts as "porn". It's part of the human body. I guess Michelangelo's "David" is porn, to, huh? People need to fine-tune this law a bit. The human body is not ugly, it's not evil, and it CERTAINLY isn't pornographic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What! He famous for taken male penis? Only sick peoples do the sick job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This country is bass ackwards when it comes to laws and common sense. No wonder some of the men are so sick and twisted,too much repression methinks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How is this any different from the pictures of nude women in magazines and sports newspapers?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thank you for your insights, Tsunagarist! If he is eventually charged let us know if there's a defence fund to which we can donate.

And the name of the prosecutor handling the case, so we know to whom we can express our disgust.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So, in Japan taking nude photos of kids is OK.. but taking photos of a grown man's genitals is not OK? I expect this from the Taliban.. not Japan!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So, in Japan taking nude photos of kids is OK.. but taking photos of a grown man's genitals is not OK? I expect this from the Taliban.. not Japan!

As I understand it right now, taking the photos of nude kids in provocative poses is illegal but possession of the photos isn't. I'm sure someone here will correct me if I'm wrong (and frankly, if I'm wrong about possession being legal, it wouldn't ruin my day.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Amazing.... pornographic images and you, because you're so smart, can deem them art. So, so, many idiots posing as intelligent people with a discerning eye.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


I'm also from Singapore, and am appalled by this other poster's ignorance. If he had RTFA, he would know that the law is very vague. It does not say that showing the sausage and meatballs is considered obscene. Also, the Supreme Court in Japan decided that the Mapplethorpe pictures which showed full frontal nudity was not porn because it was artistic. I believe Mr. Kee was reasonable to expect his pictures to fall under this exception. As a thinkling adult, i think that bad laws ought to be questioned instead of blindly submitted to.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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