Saturday, May 22, 2010

Update: Kishin Shinoyama Charged over Nude Photos

VAOJ has been following this story for a while. Here's the latest (from AP):

A renowned Japanese photographer was indicted Thursday after he allegedly shot photos of a naked woman posing on a tombstone at a public cemetery.

Kishin Shinoyama, 69, was charged with public indecency and disrespect for a religious site for allegedly snapping the nude photographs in October 2008 at Tokyo's Aoyama cemetery, the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office said in a statement.

If convicted, Shinoyama faces up to six months in prison or a fine of up to 300,000 yen ($3,300).

The cemetery was one of a dozen public locations in Tokyo where two models posed nude for a photo collection titled, "No Nude by Kishin 20XX," which was released in January 2009.

Shinoyama said in a statement Thursday the models took off their clothes only briefly, "seconds or up to two minutes at the longest." He was concerned about the definition of public indecency, which could discourage artistic expression, he said.

But Shinoyama added, "I humbly accept the case as a lesson, and I will pursue my challenges to new forms of expression."

Shinoyama, a prolific photographer who for decades photographed a variety of genres, shot the "Sante Fe" book that sparked Japan's so-called "hair nude" phenomena in the 1990s. His collection of actress Rie Miyazawa exposing her pubic hair became a best seller, and eased the country's strict mores on nudity.

Here's how The Mainichi Daily News reported it:

Photographer Kishin Shinoyama has been summarily indicted by Tokyo public prosecutors for disrespect to a place of worship and public indecency for a 2008 nude photo shoot in a cemetery.

Shinoyama, 69, had originally fought the charges on the basis of freedom of expression, but has since submitted a letter of apology.

"My (artistic) expression is in danger of withering under the constant stream of reports about the investigation," the photographer commented. "I will take the incident as a lesson learned, and wish to move on and express myself in new ways."

According to the indictment, Shinoyama photographed an actress in the nude as she posed atop grave markers in the Aoyama Reien cemetery in Tokyo's Minato Ward on the night of Oct. 15, 2008. The actress was not indicted as she was following Shinoyama's directions.

Papers were originally filed with prosecutors accusing the photographer of shooting nude models in 12 public places, including a department store. The Tokyo Sub-District Public Prosecutors Office settled on the summary indictment of Shinoyama for submitting a report claiming the models would be in their underwear and going ahead with the shoot even after being warned by the police in September 2008, and to respond to the owners of the graves' desire for punishment.

The crime of disrespect to a place of worship -- defined in the Penal Code as overt disrespect against religious sites such as temples or cemeteries -- carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or a 100,000-yen fine for acts such as pulling down gravestones. It is very unusual to apply the law to obscene acts.

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