Back in 2012 the Japanese government earmarked one billion yen (US$9.8 million) for the Kindigi project which grants subsidies to publishers so that they can digitize their works to sell online. The ebooks are intended to allow people in regions affected by the Tohoku Earthquake to get easier access to information. As an added bonus it was hoped this would give Japan’s ebook market a shot in the arm all over the country as well.

However, one year after the digitization of 64,833 works was completed with tax money having paid for half the cost, a group of people involved in the publishing industry have been distributing flyers and organizing meetings over the handling of Kindigi. They found that among the thousands of ebooks were several that they deemed controversial including 100 “erotic” works such as Aan… Ecchina Kaikan Ai (Ughnn… Dirty Pleasure Love).

The Sendai based group has been handing out pamphlets with the cover of Aan… Gokujo No Kaikan Erosu & H Zenbu Misemasu!! (Ughnn… Ultimate Orgasm Erotic & Dirty: Everything Exposed!!). Along with the title is a caption reading “Is this part of rebuilding businesses?” and information to an event to discuss what titles were selected for Kindigi on 22 May.

Personally, I would have thought that digitizing Ikenai Dokuta (Naughty Doctor) and its medical themes would have been better suited to help provide information to people in quake-stricken areas. So how did the government come to select Ughnn… above all other erotic manga anyways?

With Kindigi underway in the spring of 2012 the JPO was established by a publishing industry association to go to each publisher and ask which titles they wanted to be digitized. Those requests were then evaluated by an external review committee who were instructed to “give priority to publications considered helpful (including entertainment) to the people in affected areas.” They were also told that publishers might try to sneak in other titles, so they had to be vigilant with public money.

However the following November, almost six months after the first requests were reviewed, only 10% of the anticipated amount had been passed into digital formats. This presented a dilemma for Kindigi, because the government subsidies were only good until the end of the fiscal year (March 31).

So while around 6,000 books were digitized in the first year of Kindigi, the later six saw a digitizing frenzy of nearly 60,000 titles to make full use of the budget before the deadline.

According to reports, the 64,833 digitizations contained somewhere around 100 adult themed works including Kindan No Kikan Ai Gekijo No S & Junjo No M (Forbidden Pleasure Love: Furious S & Naïve M) as well as some titles dealing with the occult and obsolete electronic equipment. About 2,287 of these books (3.5%) had something to do with the Tohoku region. To be fair, after skimming through the sizable list myself I found it was an overall drop in a virtual bucket of useful texts including health and language resources.

As the public grew aware of this, the head of the review committee Akira Nagae issued an apology saying, “Books that I don’t think are really appropriate were collected… This was the result of bureaucratic logic which says to consume as much of a budget as possible.”

On 7 May, the JPO asked all publishers involved to review their digitized contents within the following two weeks. They are also considering demanding that the subsidy money be returned in some cases. We can only hope that this time around Naughty Doctor will make the cut.

Source: Kindigi, Yahoo! Japan News via Hachima Kiko (Japanese)
List of Titles from the Kindigi Project (Japanese/pdf)
Images: Amazon 1, 2, 3, 4,