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Japanese hentai just quietly got banned in Australia

Following reports of its rejection by border force, it seems that Japanese hentai is suddenly no longer allowed in Australia.

It seems that Australia’s reigning culture of conservatism is not letting up anytime soon. It’s just come to light that the importation of hentai – a pornographic genre of Japanese manga – is being blocked by Australia’s Border Force (ABF).

The news comes from Japanese adult retailer J-List, who posted a statement to their website alerting customers to the recent change.

hentai banned australia

J-List serves as an online retailer for international customers wishing to purchase Japanese products. The company specialises in otaku goods, anime, and manga (which also includes sex toys, cosplay, and figurines). Yet two weeks ago, the retailer took to their blog to outline recent changes to their ability to import products into Australia.

“Australia’s customs rules have made the news time and again, like when actor Johnny Depp was told to remove his dogs from the country or they’d be put down,” the website started out, jokingly referencing the time when national embarrassment Barnaby Joyce threatened to remove (or even kill) Depp and Amber Heard’s two Yorkshire Terriers after they were illegally brought over from California.

“Now Australia is killing off any chance of waifus entering the county because we’ve had to stop shipping there,” J-List continued. In hentai and manga, ‘waifus’ is a fictional female character to which one is attracted.

The statement goes onto reveal that the company had received a call from DHL Japan the week prior, informing them that “Australian customs have started rejecting packages containing any adult product”.  This includes any products marked +18, such as hentai, sexual figurines, and onaholes (basically a Japanese version of a fleshlight).

DHL advised J-List to stop sending adult products to Australia effective immediately, and any orders which had already been placed were returned to the retailer the following week.

“The best way to avoid getting anyone’s hopes up of receiving something new, shiny, and for adults only is to cease shipping adult products to Australia,” J-List conceded.

Whilst there doesn’t appear to be any clear explanation behind the ban, J-List quotes the ABF website, which offers up a broad definition of items which constitute “illegal pornography” – and are hence banned from being imported into the country.

“Publications, films, computer games and any other goods that describe, depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, … in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults are not allowed,” the website describes.

hentai banned australia

The most likely reason for hentai’s sudden inclusion in the ABF’s definition of illegal pornography seems to be due to fears that it enables the entry of child pornography into the country.

It comes after it was discovered earlier this year that videos and comic books containing sexual images of children (including child rape) were being sold in Australia, prompting two South Australian politicians to call for a review of classification laws. A few months later, the AFP also revealed that the largest-ever number of child sex dolls had been intercepted on their way into the country in the first half of this year.

Yet, many are calling the move hypocritical – citing the recent controversy involving the sexualised depiction of children in Netflix’s Cuties which is still available to stream in Australia – and even racist. Some have claimed that anyone caught with the material can now face harsh penalties.

Whilst some characters depicted in hentai may “look” underage – much in the same way that some actresses in western porn might too – hentai is in no way synonymous with child pornography.

In reality, the heavy-handed approach of a complete hentai ban reeks more of the kind of pervasive conservatism which currently resides in the nation’s policy-making. A hentai ban for this reason is basically the equivalent of banning all porn entirely because child porn exists.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of explanation surrounding what’s going on, and whether there’ll be any review of these new restrictions – even more reason why we so desperately need things like diversification of media and increased political accountability in this country, in order to shift the veil of information obscurity.

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