Japanese Version of Homefront Loses References to North Korea

Apparently, Japan’s video games ratings board, CERO, has a strange policy I had never heard of before tonight. The policy basically says that games certified by CERO can’t talk s–t about actual, on-Earth nations or people the CERO folks might potentially meet some day down the road, presumably because they don’t want said meetings to be way awkward. This is a very touchy-feely policy that prevents games from painting any real-world country or person in a negative light.

It seems strange that this policy isn’t something people talk about all the time, because you’d think a policy like that would require publishers to edit at least a few Western games every year for the Japanese market. On the other hand, most games are pretty fantastical and don’t typically make explicitly negative references to real-life people, countries or government organizations; of all the games on my shelf, I think the only titles that do that are Call of Duty and Tom Clancy games, and I don’t know enough about the policy’s application with regards to religion (because I can’t read the website), and so I’ll put Assassin’s Creed in limbo.

Homefront has a very clear-cut real-world villain, North Korea with Kim Jong-Il’s son at the helm, and this was an issue when the game came under review at CERO. Andriasang, translating an announcement from the game’s Japanese publisher, reports that the game had undergone some edits in order to receive certification.

A picture of Kim Jong-Il has been removed from the game’s intro, North Korea will now be referred to as “A certain country to the north,” (taking cues from Dan Mullen?), and Jong-Il’s son will be referred to as “Northern Leader.”

The most intriguing part of this, to me, is that, as part of the game’s backstory, Japan is annexed by Korea and, one could safely presume, Japanese soldiers are part of the force invading the USA. That is not referenced in the announcement, but that would surely be changed, too, right?

I hate that censorship of games still takes place, but we can still be grateful CERO didn’t de facto ban the game outright like South Korea did. Yuck.

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4 Comments on Japanese Version of Homefront Loses References to North Korea

avrus96

On February 8, 2011 at 8:06 am

Personally I’m for the game’s censorship. It simply isn’t that good a game to weaken diplomatic relations over.

Phil Owen

On February 8, 2011 at 8:54 am

Homefront was made by an American studio, not the Japanese government. This has -all to do with diplomatic relations.

avrus96

On February 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I agree w/ you, Phil – but just as the Germans had to censor the latest Wolfenstein, I don’t see why Japan shouldn’t censor the latest “Asian superpower takes over the world” game. BTW I really do believe that this game will suck more than Turning Point: Fall of Liberty.

Phil Owen

On February 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

The Wolfenstein thing is different, because they have actual laws there about the depiction of Nazi symbols. CERO is not a Japanese government organization, and as such have no obligation whatsoever to request changes to the content of Homefront outside of their own policies. They voluntary chose to create this policy, and it only applies to games, whereas in Germany the laws apply to other media as well.

And whether or not a game good is irrelevant to the censorship debate. The censorship of artistic expression is bad no matter how bad/offensive/likely to start a war it is.