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Last year my friends and I visited Japan and naturally we wanted to bring some souvenirs for our friends and family. We were looking for some yaoi/hentai manga books for one of our friends, who is particularly interested in Japan. We didn't buy anything in the end, but someone said that we wouldn't have been able to carry it with us to Europe, as it's pornography. Is certain Japanese manga treated as pornography and is it legal to take it with you on a plane?

  • To where? Or just to Europe in general? – Gayot Fow Apr 11 '15 at 19:49
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    We were flying to Poland, but I suppose the rules would be the same for the whole EEA zone. – Jerry Apr 11 '15 at 19:53
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    If your friend is truly interested in Japan, he may not like your present. Don´t confuse "likes Japan" with "likes Manga/Anime" and/or "is a pervert" (no, liking Manga/Anime doesn´t imply the "pervert" part, too) – deviantfan Apr 11 '15 at 19:57
  • Yes, I should have specified 'likes Manga/Anime and all aspects of Japanese culture' :) – Jerry Apr 11 '15 at 19:59
  • Yaoi Manga books are fine. Don't know where you're getting your info from that they are not? – Gayot Fow Apr 11 '15 at 20:00
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A lot depends on the actual content. IF the content is illegal where you're taking it (and that includes any layovers/stopovers) you stand to get into some serious legal trouble.
For example, last year someone was arrested and convicted in Norway for possession of child pornography.
His crime? He had 3 manga/hentai cartoons in his house, which included sexual content. Under Japanese law these are perfectly legal, in Norway (and elsewhere in the EU) they're considered child porn as the definitions are different.

And if you have a stopover in say Dubai you have to be doubly careful as anything they consider pornographic can get you arrested and in prison even if you're just there to switch planes, would never leave the airport.

Just porn isn't a problem in Europe of course, it's quite legal in most countries as long as you're an adult. CHILD porn however, and in the EU that includes depictions of nude or sometimes scantilly children in cartoons, especially if the context is sexually charged, will get you in serious trouble with the law. That Norwegian guy was lucky to get away with 18 months in jail (and no doubt a mark on the Norwegian version of the sex offenders registry for life), probably because of the low volume. But his life is destroyed, he will forever be branded a child molester and sexual deviant in his country.
Don't let that happen to you, be extremely careful and prudent in what if anything you purchase (and that doesn't just include potentially pornographic comics, there are many things that are legal in other countries but not in your own, think parts of endangered species of animals or plants, sometimes historical artifacts, religious relics, etc. etc.).

  • I think this is the answer I was looking for. Yes, it seems it all depends on the difference in law in country of origin/destination/stopover. Without thoroughly studying the contents of the book one wouldn't know if it could possibly be illegal outside Japan. The fact that possibly quite a lot of tourists in Japan wouldn't speak Japanese (like my friends and I) wouldn't help :) – Jerry Apr 11 '15 at 22:38
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    Can you please add a reference to the Norwegian laws you mention, and to the case of the jailed man? – JoErNanO Apr 11 '15 at 22:40
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    @JoErNanO I can't find a reference to the Norwegian case (possibly language/search issue) but there are several arrests in several countries over drawings (search for "manga arrest" or similar). An article by Dr. Ellis details some of the effects on art, and a surprisingly candid post by Christian Engström details why politicians and governments love playing the child porn card. – zxq9 Apr 11 '15 at 23:29
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    "Norway (and elsewhere in the EU)" Norway isn't in the EU. – David Richerby Apr 12 '15 at 0:01
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Yaoi Manga is a genre of illustrated books that contain homo-erotic content, or in some other way appeal to the prurient interest of its fans. It's soft-porn and does not feature children. Other Manga genres devoted to children are outside the scope of this answer.

These books are available over-the-counter in Europe. As evidence, here's an Amazon (France) snapshot...

enter image description here

Source: http://www.amazon.fr/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_10/279-1464532-0274238?__mk_fr_FR=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=yaoi%20manga&sprefix=yaoi+manga%2Caps%2C166

Comparable snapshots exist for 'fr', 'de', 'es', and 'it' versions. Also the .co.uk version.

Note: Next day delivery may not be available. Items purchased in Japan may or may not be duty-free. Also note: Images depicting children under 18 in sexually charged scenarios, even cartoons, are unlawful throughout the EEA.

  • Thanks for a thorough answer. I know some of those items are available in Europe, but my question was focused on the airport customs aspect. Some countries might have some specific rules as to what can or can't leave the country. – Jerry Apr 11 '15 at 20:23
  • No, not as porn. Large quantities may attract duties, but a different area altogether. – Gayot Fow Apr 11 '15 at 20:29

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