Japanese Publisher Kadokawa Cancels Release Of Anti-Trans US Book

Japanese Publisher Kadokawa Cancels Release Of Anti-Trans US Book

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Irreversible Damage article
Picture: Canva
A notorious anti-trans book was about to make its way to Japan's shores - until employees at Kadokawa spoke up.

Kadokawa kicked up a firestorm when it said it would translate and publish a notorious anti-transgender book in Japan. Learn why the major publishing house swiftly apologized and now says it won’t go forward with its plans after all.

Kadokawa won’t publish Irreversible Damage

Kadokawa Corp. canceled plans to publish a Japanese translation of the anti-transgender U.S. book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. The book is written by Abigal Shrier and published by the conservative Regnery Publishing.

The book claims there’s a surge in trans men in recent years – so-called rapid-onset gender dysphoria. (ROGD). While a scientific-sounding term, ROGD is not a “dysphoria” recognized by any major medical institution. By contrast, gender dysphoria, medical treatment for gender dysphoria, and gender diversity are all recognized by the mainstream medical community.

On Tuesday, Kadokawa released a company apology and cancellation notice for the book, which it had scheduled to publish on January 24th of the New Year.

“Immediately after [Kadokawa] announced the publication of this book, [we] received various comments from many people regarding the book’s content and the pros and cons of publishing the book. [We] planned to publish the translation, hoping it would help readers in Japan deepen their discussions about gender through what is happening in Europe and the United States as well as other matters.”    

“But the title and sales copy resulted in causing harm to people directly involved” in transgender issues, Kadokawa said.

“We sincerely apologize for it.”


The content and translation in question

The book’s author Abigail Shrier, also an independent journalist with contributions to the Wall Street Journal, interviewed two hundred people from fifty families with transgender members. Shrier claimed that people Assigned Female at Birth (AFAB) who want gender-affirming medical care increased 4,400% in a decade and that 40% of U.S. university students are LGBTQ.

On the site Science-Based Medicine, physician Rose Lovell called the book “a fear-filled screed, full of misinformation, biological and medical inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and propaganda.” In actuality, the best estimates on transgender people in the US put the population at around only 0.6%. In the UK, that figure is around 0.5%.

When Amazon pre-order sales began for the Japanese version, which Showa University neuropsychiatry professor Iwanami Akira supervised, the description read as below.

A strange uptrend of girls who had no gender dysphoria in their childhood, but then suddenly “change their sex” during puberty. Schools, influencers, therapists, medical institutions, and even the government are promoting it. Even medical and scientific professionals with universal authority are getting canceled and losing their jobs if they object. Is this the near future of Japan?

The Japanese title of the book translated as “That girl’s become transgender, too: The tragic sex-change craze contagion spread through social media.”

Kadokawa employees unite to halt sales

The book in Japanese form understandably brought Kadokawa immense pushback from social media critics and its own employees.

Over 30 employees working at the Kadokawa wrote and submitted a letter of opinion in Japanese on Monday, a day before the company unveiled the cancellation.

With it, they sent 36 “personal comments from publishing industry professionals around the world” to the company, according to Emily Balistrieri on X, a translator of over 102 books in Japanese into English.

Kobayashi Emi, editor and representative of the Japanese publisher/bookshop Yohaku-sha, posted the letter of opinion on X, which Balistrieri reposted with an English translation.

The anti-transgender community: it’s all about the freeze peach

The pride and Japanese flags

Musashi University professor Senda Yuki, an expert in family sociology and gender theory, told the conservative paper Sankei News on Wednesday that she did not expect a major publishing company like Kadokawa to back down.

The professor, like other social media users, has demonstrated more concern for Kadokawa’s freedom of speech than the protection of all gender identities, including transgender people.

“This situation never ceases to baffle me. Let everyone be able to read it and then refute what needs to be refuted. A mature society refutes discourse with discourse. It is extremely cowardly to protest and intimidate the publishers,” said Professor Senda.

Senda’s words were echoed by primarily right-wing, anti-transgender voices online.

Japan’s LGBTQ community also speaks out

Not everyone agreed with the prof, however – particularly those in Japan’s LGBTQ community. Matsuoka Soshi, head of LGBTQ advocacy group fair, was one of the online advocated who called out Kadokawa for what he saw as mealy-mouthed, contradictory statements:

“Just shocking that KADOKAWA’s intro page on the transgender book it planned to publish begins, ‘We’re against discrimination. But,’ and then uses stock phrases used only by champions of discrimination such as ‘social media contagion,’ ‘hearts and minds stolen by gender ideology,’ and ‘what we should do to protect children from the LGBT law [Japan’s LGBT Understanding bill passed this year].'”

Matsuoka Soshi - post on X
Source: X

Takai Yutori, an associate professor in ethics at Gunma University who identifies as nonbinary, urged people to think about the damage the attempted publishing of the book did, not just to Japan’s transgender community, but to Kadokawa employees.

“I think there’s a lot of people inside Kadokawa with heavy hearts. People who have a Platonic ideal of what publishers do and who take pride as people in what they create. If you can help, please speak up. Even if it’s just creating a small study group within the company. We need more than an apology, we need to prevent a recurrence.”

Tweet by Takai Yutori
Source: X

Transgender rights progress – and roadblocks – in Japan

Trangender heart
Picture: Canva

Japan has a long history of homosexuality and gender diversity. However, there’s still a long road ahead.

Recently, Japan passed an “LGBT Understanding” bill meant to promote better awareness of LGBT people and their issues. However, the bill left out language forbidding discrimination against LGBT people and left out inclusive language around transgender people in response to right-wing backlash. Hard-right conservatives in Japan are battling against transgender rights using many of the same tactics employed in the US and UK.

Legally, transgender people have suffered both highs and lows in the past several years. In July, a court ruled that the government actively discriminated against a transgender employee – the first case of a court in Japan finding discrimination against a sexual minority. However, last year, a court denied a transgender woman parental rights to her own child.

In terms of marriage, 70% of Japan’s population is covered by “partnership systems” that enable people of any gender to receive local legal recognition of their union. However, despite broad public support, marriage equality at the national level remains elusive due to right-wing opposition

On a private level, some companies are taking steps to address transgender discrimination head-on. Online artist image-sharing site Pixiv overhauled its anti-discrimination program after it admitted a former transgender employee suffered harassment.

Despite these efforts, many transgender and gender-fluid people say they’ve had a hard time post-pandemic finding work in Japan and that discrimination remains a serious issue.

Mental health struggles also remain a serious issue. Earlier this year, the public was shocked by the sudden passing of Ryuchell, a popular entertainer who identified as nonbinary.

This article includes contributions from Jay Allen.

What to read next


[1] KADOKAWA、差別扇動的との批判相次ぐ書籍を刊行中し 「トランスジェンダーの安全人権を脅かしかねない」との意見書も. ねとらぼ

[2] KADOKAWAジェンダーほんの刊行中止「抗議して委縮させるのは卑怯」 武蔵大の千田有紀教授. 産経新聞

[3] KADOKAWA、ジェンダー関する書籍「当事者の方を傷つけることに」刊行中しにSNSではさまざまな声. ORICON NEWS

[4] KADOKAWA、発売中止して謝罪。LGBTQ関連の翻訳書『あの子もトランスジェンダーになったSNSで伝染する性転換ブームの悲劇』. BuzzFeed

[5] Gender Dysphoria: Optimizing Healthcare for Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth with a Multidisciplinary Approach. National Library of Medicine

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