TOKYO — Megumi Igarashi, the artist who was arrested in July for distributing 3D printable design files of her vagina, was charged with violating Japan's "obscenity" laws today.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper said Igarashi, who goes by the name Rokudenashi-ko, which means "no-good girl" in Japanese, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Igarashi could be jailed up to two years and fined as much as 2.5 million yen ($20,800).
"My works are all meant to induce friendly laughter because they involve cutely decorating sexual organs. The works are not obscene," Igarashi read out loud in court.
Adult entertainment industry attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ today that Igarashi might be a victim of moral panic in a country that bans the depiction of genitalia.
"For a high-tech country like Japan, the citizens still seem to have a strong prudish streak running through their culture," Walters said. "The idea that ‘data’ allowing a 3D model to be created could ever be considered ‘obscene’ is highly questionable. Until the model is actually printed, we’re talking about a bunch of 1s and 0s.
"This sounds like a bit of a political witch hunt against a controversial artist, but reinforces the fact that people are still being jailed for artistic expression."
In July Igarashi told local media that she was selling her 3D design files to raise money to make a life-size boat that looks like a vagina to sail around the world. Ultimately, she hoped her art would decrease the Japanese taboo and prejudice surrounding female genitalia, which baffles her.
Besides her 3D printable design files, Igarashi has produced several “hard” vagina-inspired works, including smartphone cases, a lampshade, sundry diaramas and a miniature kayak, which can be seen in this YouTube video.