From Japan Today, 2/5/13:
Tokyo-based Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee was arrested Monday
on suspicion of obscenity after selling books containing pictures of
male genitals at a gallery in Tokyo, police said.
The 41-year-old photographer, known for his pictures of Japanese pop
stars including Ayumi Hamasaki, Yumi Matsutoya and Kumi Koda, was
arrested along with two Japanese publishing firm employees.
The trio sold seven copies of a book “containing many photographs
explicitly showing male genitals and others” to two customers at the
gallery in the upscale shopping and entertainment district of Minami
Aoyama, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman said.
The book was each priced at 6,000 yen, he added.
The trio could be jailed up to two years and/or fined up to 2.5 million yen if convicted of the obscenity charge.
Under Japanese law pictures of genitals must be obscured, a process
usually done through pixellation, which has given rise to its own genre
Leslie Kee Official Website: http://www.lesliekeesuper.com/
UPDATE: "Fashionistas defend 'obscene' photographer Leslie Kee" (Japan Today, 2/6/13)
Japanese fashionistas on Tuesday came to the defense of Tokyo-based
Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee after he was arrested for selling
books containing pictures of male genitals.
Kee, who has snapped megastars including Lady Gaga and Super Bowl
sensation Beyonce, was arrested Monday on suspicion of obscenity after
selling the books at his Tokyo gallery.
The 41-year-old photographer could be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to 2.5 million yen ($27,000) if convicted.
Pornography is widely available and produced in Japan, but under
domestic law genitals must be obscured, a process usually done through
“I am stunned by the news of Leslie Kee’s arrest,” Yamamuro Kazz, a
leading fashion journalist and magazine editor in Japan, wrote on his
He questioned police motivation for the arrest because Kee’s works
were available at a gallery event, a forum only open to people familiar
with the artistic nature of it.
“The legal interpretation of whether genitals were exposed or not
(and whether the work is obscene or not) is totally irrelevant to the
intention of an artist,” he said.
“Under their narrow interpretation, works by Terry Richardson and
Robert Mapplethorpe are all considered obscene,” he said, referring to
prominent U.S. photographers.
Popular model Ai Tominaga tweeted “I am shocked. I am shocked for
Japan”, and was joined by others online who expressed similar dismay.
Twitter user @onda_natsue said the arrest showed how unsophisticated
Japanese culture is.
In 2008, Japan’s top court ruled that nude pictures by Mapplethorpe
were not obscene, in a verdict hailed as a victory for artistic freedom
in the country, ending a decade-long battle over the censorship laws.
The plaintiff, a Japanese publisher, filed the lawsuit after his copy
of a Mapplethorpe book was seized in 1999 when he tried to bring it
from the United States for personal use.