Thu, Dec 25, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Japan charges artist with obscenity

AFP, TOKYO

Japanese prosecutors yesterday charged a feminist artist who makes objects shaped like her own vagina with distributing “obscene” data, according to her lawyer, in a case that has sparked accusations that authorities are out of touch.

The charges follow Megumi Igarashi’s arrest this month after she raised funds online to pay for a genital-shaped kayak that she made on a 3D printer.

“We don’t agree with the prosecutors’ contention at all,” said Takeshi Sumi, her lawyer.

“We will continue pleading not guilty on behalf of Igarashi, who argues her works are not anything obscene,” Sumi said.

Igarashi, 42, was first arrested in July, but was freed after several days following a legal appeal and after thousands of people signed a petition demanding her release.

However, Tokyo police arrested her again this month — along with sex shop owner Minori Watanabe, 44, also a writer and feminist activist, for “displaying [Igarashi’s] obscene goods in her shop window”.

Watanabe, whose boutique is aimed at women, was later freed after prosecutors failed to persuade a judge to sanction extended questioning.

However, the Japanese court approved Igarashi’s detention, as prosecutors said they feared she would destroy evidence if released, Sumi said.

The present charges relate to three counts of distributing “obscene” data — namely CD-ROMs containing computer code for a 3D printer that would allow users to make copies of the vagina-shaped kayak.

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