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Censorship Boards

Japan, under its Constitution, enjoys almost full freedom of speech and expression after the Second World War. However, there have been interventions by the police and the customs office so far as obscenity concerns. Their activities are justified in accordance with the criminal law and the customs tariff law.

Before and during the War, a strict censorship by the government existed in Japan. For a certain period after the War, there was the censorship by the allied occupation forces. In 1946, the new Japanese Constitution was enacted, and the occupation forces advised the representatives of the motion picture industry to establish a self-regulation organization, similar to the MPAA Code Administration Office (so-called Hays office).

An early Censorship Board was formed in 1949, but it was criticized for lack of fairness, partly because the members came from the Japanese film industry and got funds from them.

In 1956, the board was reorganized inviting professors, lawyers and teachers from outside, as members of its the commission. The organization is called EIRIN.

In 1962, it became mandatory that all films released in Japan had to have a seal from EIRIN. According to Armin Junge, who specializes in Japanese posters, the seal appears on the posters starting in 1964.

EIRIN BOARD

Eirin is the abbreviated name for the Motion Picture Code of Ethics Committee in Japan, which serves the same purpose there as the MPAA does in America and the BBFC does in the United Kingdom: to classify films depending on their suitability to minors, depending on whether they contain sexual or violent material.

Here's a sample of the bottom of a theater poster showing the ratings with the EIRIN mark being the circle on the far right:

It is mandatory that the studio gets the approval from the EIRIN board before they show the film in the theaters, so the theater posters normally carry the EIRIN mark to show that approval. Some advance posters or posters from some small independent studios don't put the seal on the poster.

The majority of the time, it will distinguish the video poster from the theater poster, although we have had reports of some video posters also having the mark. It seems to be cases where some video posters only print a video sticker over the regular theater poster, and consequently do not remove the EIRIN mark.

We have also had reports from collectors that the B-5 posters, called chirashi, do not have the EIRIN marks. These are used like advances and released well in advance of the theater release.

MARKING THE YEAR

To understand the markings on the EIRIN mark, you must know how to read the Japanese year.

The calendar system most widely used in the United States and Europe is known as the Gregorian Calendar. This sets year 1 as the year in which Christ was born (even though they miscalculated when setting up the original system). The year 2000 is a direct result of setting that date.

In Japan, people counted years according to the reign of an emperor. This custom of reckoning years by eras was adopted in Japan in the seventh century.

From that time until the nineteenth century, the reigning emperor decided when one era ended and another began. Under the current system, adopted following the ascension of Emperor Meiji in 1868, the era begins on the day an emperor ascends the throne and continues until his death. Thus the Meiji era began in 1868 and lasted until 1912.

Here's the eras:

Name
Start Date
End Date
Meiji September 8, 1868 July 30, 1912
Taisho July 30, 1912 December 25, 1926
Showa December 25, 1926 January 7, 1989
Heisei January 7, 1989 Present


EIRIN marks are shown in a variety of ways, here's some examples:

The majority of posters have the Showa dating. The easiest way to calculate the date is to add 25 to the first 2 digits.... using the sample above... it would be 47 + 25 which would be 72 (or 1972)

Here is a sample using the Heisei mark:

And finally, here's an EIRIN mark using a western dating that seems to be becoming more popular:

Different companies in Japan use different systems... for example:

DAIEI, NIKKATSU, and SHOCHIKU studios normally use the Japanese system while TOHO and TOEI use the western system.

This great information was provided by Armin Junge


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