Etrix (etrix) wrote,

Freedom to Read - Personal Edition

As some may know, I recently became addicted to a lovely little yaoi manga series called Junjo Romantica. Being the good little reader I am, I decided to support the mangaka and the publisher by actually buying the series. One problem. Junjo Romantica isn't available for sale in Canada. I checked with my local manga seller, with my local independent bookstore and on both the Chapters.Indigo and websites.

It's not for sale no where, no how.  I had to go through and get it shipped from the states.

Being rather bothered by this and by the information given by my manga seller that the publisher is on Border Canada's 'blanket ban' list, I decided to ask them directly. The following is cut-pasted from the email stream starting from my earliest email to the one I sent back today. If you decide to join me in protesting this ridiculous restriction, the reference number is 329131-841556 and their email is I hope you will take the time to contact them.

--- Original Message ---

Date: 03/23/2009
To: <
Subject: Confirmation of Information on a Customs Ban?

I recently went to a local collectibles shop in order to purchase a romantic manga series that is both very popular and very well done, only to be told that the publisher is on a Canada Customs ban list. If this is true, then it is an injustice for, even if some of the works published by the company fit the definition of 'obscene' (and, yes, I have looked up the definition from the pdf on the CBSA site) that doesn't automatically mean all the works by this publisher meet the criteria.

The particular series is Junjo Romantica, written by Nakamura Shungiku and most recently published by Blu.

Could you please advise whether or not the information I was given by my manga seller was correct and please explain to me why this ban is in place? Is it a blanket ban on the publisher as reported, or is just that one series? 

Date: Wed, 27 May 2009
Subject: Re: Confirmation of Information on a Customs Ban?

. . .

With respect to your inquiry, it is important to note that effective targeting is an essential element in the success of the prohibited importations program.

By applying appropriate targeting criteria and using a risk management approach prior to the actual detention of goods, CBSA officials will ensure more accurate detentions and, ultimately, a higher rate of prohibition. This will ensure there is no unnecessary infringement upon the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Charter.

While the CBSA does not target importers in relation to potential obscenity or hate propaganda, material may be targeted for closer examination when it meets one or more of the following criteria:

(a) The invoice description of the goods, and/or any other documentation available, describes the importation and gives an indication that the shipment may contain suspect material that has been previously prohibited by the CBSA; 

(b) The exporter is known to deal in obscenity or hate propaganda; 

(c) The geographic origin of the production or publishing company is known in relation to obscenity and hate propaganda; 

(d) There is approved intelligence information relating to the shipment; 

(e) There is other information known about the goods that would lend itself to possible obscenity or hate propaganda.

As a result, a production company that has exported obscene material in the past would run a greater risk of being targeted and having future shipments detained, as it is now a known exporter of obscenity. However, the CBSA would not automatically assume that everything coming from that exporter would constitute obscenity.

We trust this information is helpful. Thank you for your inquiry.


Canada Border Services Agency
Ottawa, ON K1A 0L8
Government of Canada | Gouvernement du Canada

Date: 05/29/2009
To: <
Subject: Re: Confirmation of Information on a Customs Ban?

Actually, this doesn't really answer my question at all. It deals in generalities but I had asked about a specific publisher and a specific book series. Your response doesn't actually state whether the publisher and/or the book series has fallen under one or more or all of the criteria given in order to be banned.

And if it has, then I must object. Neither the publisher nor the series deals in "obscenity or hate propaganda" and Japan isn't known as a propagator of obscenity or hate propaganda. I wasn't asking about a specific shipment so articles a), d), and e) don't apply. I have no idea if Blu publishers have been accused or convicted of dealing in obscenity or hate propaganda in the past and you don't actually say that they have, therefore I think the last sentence in the body of your response should apply:

"the CBSA would not automatically assume that everything coming from that exporter would constitute obscenity."

By banning wholesale imports of works by this publisher, if this is the case; you don't actually say, you severely limit the options and rights of Canadian readers and book sellers. This is a large market, and most mangas are no more or less obscene than your average best-selling novel or a day-time soap. Perhaps it is time to relook at this practice in less general terms.

Update: I've managed to find it on and now. And, after further talks with my local collectibles shop, it turns out the problem is that they are classified as a 'kid's store'. Since Junjou Romantica is classified as 'mature' (and so is the upcoming 'Madness' manga) they won't be able to bring it in for me. Whoever classifies a modern 'comics & collectibles' store as 'for kids' needs to get into the real world.  B[
Tags: jr, worth doing
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