The three chapters in this section look at issues surrounding pornography and censorship in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. As noted above, the rapid uptake of Internet technologies in the East Asian region has led to the ease of transmission of local, regional and international media content across borders. One area in which this has created serious problems for state authorities is in the regulation of material deemed harmful to the public, including pornography.

In her chapter, Mei Ning Yan looks at the different legal frameworks and regulatory strategies governing online sexual content in Hong Kong and mainland China. She also points to important differences in social and political culture in the two regions, noting how in mainland China the regulation of sexual content is part of a wider process of the control of speech and representation in the media undertaken by the authorities whereas in Hong Kong there is more civil debate and activism over freedom of expression.

Mark McLelland takes issue with a claim often repeated in the Anglophone press that Japanese popular culture is somehow awash with pornography and that there has been little official interest in legislating in this area. On the contrary, McLelland points out how sexual expression

in the media has always been a site of scrutiny by official bodies, especially the police, and that a raft of legislative measures exists to censor and limit the distribution of sexual content in Japan. McLelland argues that Japanese approaches to the censorship of sexual content have been guided by a sense of paternalism on the part of officials, especially the police, who feel it is their role to ‘protect’ impressionable members of the community and offer ‘guidance’ on the limits of representation. For much of the last century it was ‘lower’ social orders that were deemed in need of protection, but in recent years protecting ‘vulnerable youth’ has emerged as the main rationale for limiting sexual content. McLelland points to recent controversies over ‘Boys Love’, a pornographic genre of manga and light fiction largely written by and for women, to demonstrate how factions within Japanese society are very much invested in controlling certain kinds of sexual expression, especially those that challenge male authority and gender roles.

Heung Wah Wong and Hoi Yan Yau look at the importance of Japanese adult videos (AVs) in the region, focussing specifically upon different patterns of consumption and reception in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Although Japanese AVs have certainly impacted on local under­standings of sex and sex roles, through looking at the changes made to the videos’ scripts by subtitling, Wong and Yau show how these foreign imports are indigenised so as to make sense according to local scripts governing appropriate male and female sexual behaviour. They suggest that patterns of consumption in pornography are governed by the same kinds of rules that apply to other items of exchange in a global commodity market and that for any product to be accepted it needs to speak to local interests and needs.