Tokyo Police Arrest Photographer, Printing Execs on Obscenity Charges

Rhett Pardon

TOKYO —  Police here have arrested an art photographer and two printing executives on obscenity charges for printing and distributing 4,000 copies of a book that includes full-frontal male nudity.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police said Friday that books printed by Hakkou Art contained 50 pages of uncensored photos that violate Japan's laws against obscenity, according to a report.

Police said they made arrests of photographer Leslie Kee and Hakkou Art's president, Koichi Kodama, and a sales executive, Takeshi Kodama.

Kee — a well-known photographer of Japanese pop stars and international stars like Lady Gaga as well as cover photographer for Vogue, Bazaar and others — was arrested at his art gallery after police investigated tips he was selling copies of his "Super" series there for $65 a piece.

In Japan, Article 175 of the country's Penal Code states that the distribution, sale, or public display of obscene writings, pictures or other materials is strictly prohibited, however there is no clear definition of what is regarded as “obscene." 

If convicted, Kee, Koichi Kodama and Takeshi Kodama face two years in prison plus fines up to $27,000.