MasterCard is not accepted

A number of Japanese adult manga, illustration, and anime viewing services have been suspended by MasterCard.

Generally, credit card payment companies, in order to maintain social norms and protect brand value, have established terms and conditions to prevent credit card payments from being used for transactions that are considered illegal in the country, such as handguns and drugs. Among those considered illegal transactions are representations in content. These expressions include child pornography, sex without consent, bestiality, and mutilation. In addition, there is no question as to whether the content of the representation is real or not. This means that if an illustration or cartoon character does something that would be a crime if they actually did it, that too includes the possibility of being considered a violation of the Terms of Use.

When credit card payment is used for content sales, the merchant who sold the merchandise does not learn of the refusal of payment according to the card company’s regulations until after the merchandise has already been provided to the consumer. The service has already been sold, but the payment proceeds are not transferred to the store as sales. Sales of these adult-related products have been confirmed since the summer of 2018.

In order to avoid this rejection of payment, content sellers scrutinized the contents of their sales in advance, but were unable to draw a clear line for each product in terms of “which part of this product violated the terms and conditions” in adult images and videos. DMM Group, a leading distributor of adult-oriented Japanese manga and anime content, has announced that it will uniformly stop accepting MasterCard payments after July 29. This is to prevent situations where MasterCard can or can not be used for multiple products within an identical service.

Conversely, a service have been suggested by MasterCard to deny the transaction. The illustration viewing service site PIXIV has been noted by MasterCard as a possible transaction denial since December 5. In response, PIXIV’s management requested that users remove or keep private illustrations that contain child abuse, incest, or bestiality in their content.

Thus, year after year, there is a growing tendency to seek social norms in imaginary two-dimensional characters. Parents do not want their children to play brutal games of war and violence because they believe in the effect of creations on people. It is common knowledge in psychology that creations that deviate from social norms have a negative impact on actual society. That is what allowed the censorship of expression by the financial industry this time around.

In Japan, where illustrations, manga, anime, and games are particularly rich in expression, those who create or enjoy them are now bewildered. There is a popular smartphone game called “Uma Musume Pretty Derby.” This is a game in which real racehorses are transformed into cute underage girls, which are then trained and run around a racetrack. Males in their 20s account for 40% of the users, and the character girls are dressed in miniskirts that almost show their underwear, and publish BWH measurements. Are they sexually aroused by animals? Is this child pornography? Or would it constitute forced labor of a minor? The day may come when the things we have been enjoying in secret will be pointed at as criminal proceeds.

One politician predicts that in the future, the regulation of creative expression will also be legally developed by majority vote like cigarettes, for example. Tobacco is harmful to the human body, but is not prohibited. On the other hand, there are more children under the age of 20, pregnant women, people with illnesses, and people who simply do not want to smoke, for whom tobacco smoke is harmful, than for smokers. As a result, the Passive Smoking Prevention Law was established, which states that “measures should be taken in facilities and equipment to prevent people who do not want to smoke from inhaling tobacco smoke. Thus, in creations as well, the drop-off point will be decided through discussion. Even if restrictions are placed on expression, I hope that the restrictions will be as liberal as possible.

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