According to the Japan Times the Tokyo High Court has reduced the punishment that the Tokyo District Court had meted out to Motonori Kishi, president of the hentai publishing house Shobunkan, by eliminating the prison sentence imposed by the lower court (see 'Manga Title Ruled Obscene') and setting the publisher's fine at 1.5 million yen. Mr. Kishi and Shobunkan are planning to appeal the Tokyo High Court's decision to the Supreme Court in order to defend the right to sell 'adult' publications to adults under the protection of Article 21 of the Japanese Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.
The manga responsible for the original prosecution, Misshitsu (Honey Room) was clearly marked as an 'adults only' title and was displayed only in 'adults only' areas in bookstores. The lawyers for Shobunkan also argued that the contents of the manga did not differ appreciably from the contents of hentai videos and DVDs, which used photographs depicting similar sexual activities.
A coalition of 90 small and medium size Japanese publishers supported Shobunkan in its legal battle with prosecutors. The original decision did have a chilling effect on the distribution of hentai manga as some stores stopped carrying erotic-themed comics, but the market for adult manga did not disappear. Prosecutors froze the assets of Shobunkan and briefly jailed the artist who created Misshitsu (Suwa Yuugi aka 'Beauty Hair'), but didn't succeed in put either the publisher or the artist out of business. Although Shobunkan's sales have declined by 30% since charges were filed in 2002, the publisher is still a going concern and AnimeNation reports that Beauty Hair has managed to get two 'adult' manga titles published so far in 2005.