Equality Now, an organization devoted to "the protection and promotion of the human rights of women around the world", began a letter-writing campaign this week to demand that Illusion Software and Japanese government officials, including Prime Minister Taro Aso, to remove and ban rape-simulation game RapeLay from sale in Japan.

The 2006 PC game, which has no official English localization, was a controversial topic in February of this year after the game was made available for sale in the West by a third-party seller through Amazon Marketplace. The online retailer swiftly removed RapeLay from its site after receiving complaints over the game's content, as it encourages players to stalk and rape a virtual family.

"Please write to Illusion Software asking it to withdraw immediately from sale of all games, including RapeLay, which involve rape, stalking or other forms of sexual violence or which otherwise denigrate women," Equality Now asks on its site, arguing that the title normalizes sexual violence. "Suggest that corporations have a responsibility to consider, as good business practice, any negative impact their activities may have on society and the public interest. Please write a similar letter to Amazon Japan."

The group continues, "Write also to ... Japanese government officials, calling on them to comply with Japan’s obligations under [the country's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women] and the Japanese Constitution to eliminate discrimination against women and particularly to ban the sale of computer games such as RapeLay, which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls."

Oddly: "We are simply bewildered by the move," says Illusion spokesman Makoto Nakaoka, according to a report from Australian news site ABC.net. "We make the games for the domestic market and abide by laws here. We cannot possibly comment on [the campaign] because we don't sell them overseas."

However, "[We realize] the problem is there," a spokewsoman for the Japanese government's gender equality bureau commented. "While we recognise that some sort of measures need to be taken, the office is currently studying what can be done."

[Via Game Politics]