In Japan there is currently a good deal of debate about pornography. Manga are comics. Back in the 1980s a woman called Keiko Takemiya brought out a comic series called The Poem of Wind and Trees that includes sex of all kinds. There is an article on this subject on the BBC web site here. Currently, nearly 40 years later, there is discussion about what should be allowed and what banned. the main issues are
1. Are comics different from photos. To have a photograph actual people have to be photographed in the act. Production of a comic does not involve any actual people taking their clothes off. Is it the image in itself that is wrong or is it that obtaining the image involves people in wrong things or is nothing wrong?
2. Does it make a difference whether the image has a claim to being "art" or not. Some japanese images are very artistic and there is a tradition of sexually explicit art in Japan going back into history.
3. What about the position of children? Pictures from the historical tradition often show adults having sexual intercourse with children present. This is said to depict normal family life. If one lived in a one room house with several children, they would see everything. Are modern attitudes a function of modern architecture? Are they more or less healthy than the earlier ones? Is it harmful to children to witness sex?
4. What about children involved in sex? Quoting from the BBC article "The Poem of Wind and Trees opens with two naked teenage boys in a 19th Century French boarding school lying on top of each other, post-coital. The series centres on one of those boys and another new boy. Gilbert, who was abandoned by his parents but raised by his uncle, has experienced rape and incest, and spends his time as a sex toy for the older boys and staff. He then meets Serge, the dark-skinned son of an aristocrat, and the subject of bigotry..." On the one hand it is argued that anything that normalises sex with or by under-age persons is bad (and what should that age be?). On the other side there are cases where people have read such material and seeing what has happened to them normalised has been a great liberation, realising "I wasn't the only person in the world that this happened to."
5. There is a general issue about censorship. If things happen, why should it be illegal to write about it or draw pictures of it? We are daily shown images of violence, is sex really worse? And what kinds of sex?
6. What about women? Does this kind of literature advance or put back the position of women? Takemiya argues that her work has emboldened women to believe that they can have whatever kind of sex they want rather than being restricted to a norrow range of overly romanticised possibilities. Is that good?
7. Then there is the question of cultural imperialism. Japan has its own traditions, attitudes and understandings. Is the imposition of the attitudes (prejudices?) of 21st century North America or Europe upon the rest of the world a good thing? Can there be good and bad cultures and how would one know which was which? Again, cultures change. Forty years ago there was a more liberal atmosphere in Europe and America then there is today.
Many interesting questions.