1. On March 14, cartoonist Poko Murata wrote online that his HIV awareness billboard received public decency complaints in Ni-chome, Tokyo’s biggest gay district.
The billboard was commissioned by ViiV Healthcare, which defended Murata and said he didn’t break obscenity laws. Fellow artist Yuji Kato applauded the ‘upbeat, warm, inclusive’ depiction of Tokyo’s gay male community in the drawing.
2. Shinjuku’s district officers told Murata to edit his billboard in January. He submitted this new version below.
3. In March, the modified version was rejected again by the Shinjuku district office because it “showed underwear.”
“They told me that residents in Ni-chome [Tokyo’s gay district] were uncomfortable with my drawing,” Murata wrote online. “And that I should edit it if we plan to continue running awareness campaigns.”
4. The irony, as GayManga points out, is that Shinjuku district contains some of Tokyo’s most blatant sex establishments.
Much of Shinjuku are known as red light districts, and beloved local institutions like the Robot Restaurant parade around its famous fembots to advertise its cabaret shows.
A visitor to the area poses in front of billboards and posters for the many ‘hostess clubs’ in Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku.