Japanese fashionistas have rushed to express their support for the Tokyo-based celebrity photographer Leslie Kee, who boasts clients like Lady Gaga and Beyonce, after he was arrested for selling books containing pictures of male genitalia.
The 41-year-old Singaporean photographer was arrested on suspicion of obscenity after selling the controversial books at his art gallery in Tokyo.
Two employees of the book’s publisher were also arrested. If convicted Kee could face up to two years in prison as well as a fine of up to $27,000.
While pornography is widely available and produced in Japan, according to AFP, under domestic law genitals must be blurred through pixellation.
While Japan’s Penal Code prohibits the distribution, sale and public display of obscene material, the law does not reportedly define what specific type of content is deemed obscene.
According to The Japan Daily Press, the police found out about Kee’s plans to sell the books from an announcement on his Facebook page.
The books in the photographer’s 50-page “Super” series sell for about $65 each. According to police, seven copies have been sold since the exhibition opened at the Hiromi Ishii Roppongi gallery.
Japan’s leading fashion journalist and magazine editor, Yamamuro Kazz, wrote on his website he was “stunned by the news of Leslie Kee's arrest", adding that Kee's work was only available at a particular gallery event, attended by people familiar with the artist’s creative angle.
According to Kazz, "the legal interpretation of whether genitals were exposed or not (and whether the work is obscene or not) is totally irrelevant to the intention of an artist."
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