Gay Artist’s HIV Awareness Billboard Censored In Japan For ‘Indecency’


Last December, an HIV-awareness billboard commissioned from gay artist Poko Murata appeared in the Tokyo gay district of Shinjuku Ni-chome. The billboard — advertising the AIDS pharmaceutical company Viiv Healthcare — featured a ring of Japanese men alongside the text, "There are people living with and without HIV and we're all already living together."

In January, Murata received a complaint from the Shinjuku district office that his billboard was "contrary to public order and morality" because of one of the men in his ad was wearing only underwear. After re-drawing the man in a slightly unzipped pair of shorts, the office continued to complain because the man's underwear was still visible.

The artist himself considers the complaint "an obvious prejudice and discrimination against gays," especially considering that the district has numerous advertisements for straight bars featuring real-life women in skimpy underclothes. Journalist Dan Littauer also notes that the Tokyo police have arrested gay bookstore employees in the past for selling obscenity even though one can easily find similarly "obscene" books in hetero sex shops.

A clothed version of Murata's sign was placed over the original earlier this week.


  1. ben says

    This is the same culture that mandates blurring on genitals in hardcore pornography but is also the origin of animated hardcore tentacle porn. Japan has weird sex hangups.

  2. disgusted american says

    you would think they’d be MORE worried about the Fukashima Power plants inevitable meltdown(s)of 3 of its 4 reactors..and making a 3rd of more of the Island of Japan Uninhabitable…..while poisoning the earth for 1000’s of yrs

  3. Eric the Good says

    Oh, Japan. So difficult to understand from a USA perspective sometimes. Here is a country that has “penis festivals” with men of all ages dressed in nothing more than sandals and a fundoshi that barely covers the genitals, yet a cartoon of non-nekkid gay men is offensive to public morality. No matter what the cultural milieu, homophobia is just plain stupid.

  4. BrokebackBob says

    You are soooo right DISGUSTED AMERICAN.
    The Japanese are in for the real disaster after the disaster and it’s not in the news except once once on Rachel Maddow. And the tragic thing is, if they had ONLY put the backup generators and pumps on higher ground
    instead of down in a valley next to the site,
    the reactors would have been able to shut down
    normally and would have ridden out the tsunami probably unscathed. Whoever okayed the position of that equipment should be dropped into the current reactor and left there.

  5. Randy says

    How do they manage to watch events like diving and swimming? Isn’t it too obscene for their fragile little minds?

  6. JackFknTwist says

    I’m trying to understand this :

    this is a poster released in a gay district;
    it is about raising HIV awareness…..

    And the Japanese are concerned that the poster shows a comic drawn guy in underwear !
    WTF ?

  7. Retro says

    Just make it all white or black and say he’s a sumo wrestler wearing a mawashi!

    btw – didn’t Japan basically invent the male thong ?? (fundoshi)