Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale


Hi Blog. The new SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books, 2022), completely revised and updated with 100 extra pages of new material, is now on sale.

Information site outlining what’s new, with excerpts and reviews, and how to get your copy at a discount at

(Or you can download a flyer, take it to your library, have them order the book, and then borrow it for free at EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer)

Read a sample of the book on Amazon here.

Front Cover:

Full cover with reviews:

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

My Japan Times column JBC 111: “White Supremacists and Japan: A Love Story” (March 8, 2018)


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Hi Blog. This month sees a Japan Times column that I’m particularly proud of, as it ties a lot of things together. My research question was, “Why do people react so viscerally whenever somebody criticizes Japan?” And I think I found the answer: Japan attracts and nurtures White Supremacists.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

JBC 111 for the Japan Times Community page
By Debito Arudou, Thursday, March 8, 2018


The Washington Post reported something interesting on Feb. 14: A farm put up a sign saying “Resist White Supremacy.” And it incurred a surprising amount of online backlash.

Calls for boycotts. Accusations and recriminations. One-star Facebook reviews that had nothing to do with their products.

The article pondered: Who, other than a White Supremacist, would object to a message rejecting white supremacy?

But if you’ve ever protested racism in Japan, or read comments sections in Japanese media, you’ll know these reactions have been old hat for nearly two decades.

In fact, this column will argue that online intolerance and attack have been Japan exports…

Read the rest in the JT at

This will be the anchor site for discussion about the article on Thanks for reading, everyone. Dr. Debito Arudou

PS:  If trolls show up here, as they probably will, as per Commenting Guidelines, reserves the right to make public their IP addresses.

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BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival


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Hi Blog.  You have to hand it to zealots in political power for their singlemindedness and clarity of message.  The extreme-right leaders of the LDP are pursuing their agenda with messianistic fervor from both above and below, opening booths and putting in Prime Ministerial appearances at online geek festivals, and even enlisting the Emperor to push an overtly politicized agenda of historical revisionism.  Consider these news items:

Japan marks ‘return of sovereignty’ day
BBC News, 28 April 2013, Courtesy of JK

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko gave added weight to the event

Japan has for the first time marked the anniversary of the end of the allied occupation, which followed its defeat in World War II.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the “restoration of sovereignty day” would give Japan hope for the future and help it become “strong and resolute”.

The event is seen as part of Mr Abe’s nationalist campaign.

He is also pushing for a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease tight restrictions on the armed forces.

It was during last year’s election campaign that Mr Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) proposed the event to mark the day in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, formally ending WWII and the allied occupation.

“I want to make this a day when we can renew our sense of hope and determination for the future,” the 58-year-old said in front of officials gathered in Tokyo.

“We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on,” he said.

It was the latest in a series of events and remarks that have angered Japan’s Asian neighbours.

Mr Abe infuriated China and South Korea when he suggested he may no longer stand by the wording of an apology issued in 1995 for Japan’s war-time aggression, saying the definition of “aggression” was hard to establish.

China also strongly objected to the visits by several cabinet members and 170 MPs this month to the Yasukuni war shrine, which is seen as a symbol of Japan’s imperialistic aggression.

Sunday’s ceremony was also controversial with some Japanese. Thousands of people on the southern island of Okinawa took to the streets to denounce the event as a betrayal.

Okinawa was invaded by US marines in 1945 and was not returned to Japan until 1972.

Nearly three-quarters of US troops stationed in Japan under a bilateral treaty are based in Okinawa.



Right-wing Yomiuri’s less critical and more maudlin take on the event:


Japan in Depth / Rethinking Japan’s sovereignty
The Yomiuri Shimbun April 30, 2013 Courtesy of JK
By Yuichi Suzuki and Tetsuya Ennyu / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers

Same photo as above’s caption:  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, sends off the Emperor and Empress after a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty held Sunday at Kensei Kinenkan hall in Tokyo.

In hosting a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty after its defeat in World War II, the government apparently aimed at encouraging the people to deepen their perceptions of national sovereignty.

Also behind the government’s decision to sponsor the ceremony is the perceived threat to the nation’s sovereignty, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pursuit of constitutional revision, observers said.

The ceremony was held Sunday in Tokyo to mark the 61st anniversary of the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty on April 28, 1952, which ended the postwar Occupation of Japan by Allied forces.

After speeches by Abe, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the House of Councillors, the Suginami Junior Chorus performed, easing the atmosphere with clear singing voices.

The chorus sang such popular songs as “Te no hira o taiyo ni” (Palms in the sun) and “Tsubasa o kudasai” (Please give me wings), as well as “Asu to iu hi ga” (The day called tomorrow), a song in support of people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

These songs, which the emcee described as being full of hope for the future, were performed because the government deliberately staged the event to foster a future-oriented atmosphere, taking into account criticism it had received that holding such a ceremony is indicative of a reactionary and rightist inclination.

It was Takeshi Noda, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, who called on Abe and others to organize such a ceremony.

Noda began suggesting the idea about a decade ago. He believes it is necessary to give the people an opportunity to ponder why the nation lost its sovereignty by considering as a set the April 28 anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, the day the nation announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. He calls the Aug. 15 anniversary “the day of humiliation for losing [the nation’s] sovereignty.”

Efforts made by Noda and his followers bore fruit when the LDP, then an opposition party, held a people’s forum to mark the sovereignty restoration anniversary on April 28 last year at its party headquarters.

Abe, who was not the party leader at the time, delivered a video message, saying: “[The nation’s] failure to thoroughly review the Occupation period right after sovereignty was restored has left serious problems. The next [task for us] is [to revise] the Constitution.”

Event reflects Abe’s intent

Holding the government-sponsored ceremony was mentioned in the so-called J-File, in which the LDP explained in detail its manifesto for the House of Representatives election last year and its plan to hold ceremonies on National Founding Day on Feb. 11, and Takeshima Day on Feb. 22.

Of the three, however, only the sovereignty ceremony has been realized so far.

The prevailing view is that Abe’s strong intention to amend the Constitution had much to do with the event.

During recent interviews and on other occasions, Abe has repeatedly emphasized that “When the Constitution was enacted, Japan had yet to become independent…The Constitution was, as one might put it, created by the occupation forces. We haven’t made any constitution on our own.”

Abe’s strong desire to establish the nation’s own constitution was seen to have coincided with the holding of the ceremony.

During the ceremony, lower house Speaker Bunmei Ibuki said: “What does the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty mean? The most important thing is that the people have the right to decide the law and the systems within their own territory.”

Yet the nation’s territory and sovereign power have been threatened daily.

China’s maritime surveillance ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. Meanwhile, the Takeshima islands have been illegally occupied by South Korea, and Russia has been intensifying its effective control over the northern territories off Hokkaido.

The current situation, in which the nation’s sovereignty is in unprecedented danger, also appears to have fueled Abe’s desire to hold the latest ceremony.

As for the future of the recent ceremony, Abe has not made his intention clear.

“This is not the kind of the event that is to be held every year,” he said.

The attendance of the Emperor and the Empress at the ceremony was included in the decision the Cabinet made March 12 to hold the ceremony. It seems the Imperial couple attended as part of their official duties at the request of the Cabinet, with whom final responsibility for the ceremony lies.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Cabinet briefed the agency on the purpose of the ceremony. On the basis of the Cabinet’s explanation, the agency requested the attendance of the Imperial couple at the ceremony.

Festive mood toned down

“Especially noteworthy is the fact that Okinawa Prefecture, which experienced heavy casualties in cruel infantry battles, remained outside of Japan’s control for the longest period,” Abe said in his speech, referring to the fact that Okinawa Prefecture remained under U.S. administration 20 years after Japan regained its sovereignty.

Abe called for the people to deeply respect the hardships the Okinawan people endured during and after the war.

Okinawa Prefecture was separated from Japan when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect on April 28, 1952. As U.S. forces continued to expropriate land and construct bases in Okinawa Prefecture long after that time, some Okinawans regard April 28 as a “day of humiliation.”

However, it cannot be certain that the prime minister and those around him were fully aware of the backlash and mixed feelings of Okinawans regarding the ceremony.

Abe expressed his intent to hold the ceremony at the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on March 7, but made no mention of Okinawa at the time. A government official said Abe’s “snub” incited mistrust and anger among residents of Okinawa Prefecture.

However, in his responses to questions in the Diet and other occasions, Abe said, “If Japan had not restored its independence, negotiations [for the reversion of Okinawa to Japan] would have been impossible.”

The ceremony was shortened to 40 minutes from the initially planed 60 minutes, as festive programs were cut shortly before the ceremony.

“Decorations for the ceremony were toned down to the absolute minimum,” said a government official.

After the ceremony, Okinawa Vice Gov. Kurayoshi Takara, who was in attendance, told the press: “[Abe] paid consideration to the problems of Okinawa Prefecture. I accepted his speech.” However, he added, “I can empathize with those who assembled in Ginowan in protest of the ceremony.”


Then we get to an even bigger surprise than this:  The PM finding the time to put in an appearance at a local geek festival, sponsored by Internet snakepit of bullies and right-winger refuge 2-Channel’s corporate body, Niconico Douga a few days ago!




All screen captures from  Article courtesy of JJS, who comments:

Wanted to point your attention to this as it seems like one of those things that will be passed up, glossed over, or completely go unseen by most people.  I guess NicoNico video held some type of “Big Conference” called 「ニコニコ超会議2」. It appears at first to be some gathering for tech-heads and geek culture of all kinds. But scroll down a bit to the section 自衛隊や在日米軍、各政党も参加 and you’ll see that Abe came to participate…essentially campaigning at the event. Nico Nico played a big role in one of the debates he proposed be put online, live. But to outright be campaigning at this event seems out of the norm and certainly a bending of the rules. Even more disturbing is the show of military hardware with tie-ins to cute “moe” characters, etc. There is something rotten in Nagatacho and it all seems to be going “according to plan.”

Thanks.  Here’s the screen capture outlining the details of the event.



It even talks about the “movement on Japan’s Internet”, which manga/geek fan and rejuvenated political zombie Aso Taro (currently in the Abe Cabinet as the Deputy PM) no doubt appreciates.  Given how there is even a word nowadays coined to describe the bullying tactics of the Internet Rightists (Netto Uyoku, or Neto-uyo), a sympathetic hearing was no doubt granted by this swarm of birds of a feather).

And in case you were wondering if these geeks were just hikikomori types more interested in using up their room’s inventory of kleenex than thinking militaristic thoughts, consider this screen capture from the event:


This ain’t something harmless like the KISS Army, folks.  It’s the “Kiss our collective asses, world!” army being summoned through the LDP’s messages melding nationalism, militarism, and naked political ambition.  Something wicked is not only this way coming, it is already here.  If the LDP gets its way and converts this tone of agenda into real public policy, Japan is heading for remilitarization all over again.  Arudou Debito

Wash Post: US teacher in Japan under attack from Internet bullies for lessons on Japan’s history of racial discrimination


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Hi Blog. Here we have a case of cyberbullying by Japan’s nasty Internet denizens who do not wish the inconvenient truth of Japan’s racism (a subset of the stripe found in every country and every society) to be discussed or thought about. It made the Washington Post.  Comments by me follow the article:


American teacher in Japan under fire for lessons on Japan’s history of discrimination

Posted by Max Fisher on February 22, 2013 at 6:00 am

Courtesy and Medama Sensei

Miki Dezaki in his Okinawa classroom. He says very few students raised their hands at first. (Screenshot from YouTube by Washington Post)

Miki Dezaki in his Okinawa classroom. He says very few students raised their hands at first. (Screenshot by Washington Post)

Miki Dezaki, who first arrived in Japan on a teacher exchange program in 2007, wanted to learn about the nation that his parents had once called home. He taught English, explored the country and affectionately chronicled his cross-cultural adventures on social media, most recently on YouTube, where he gained a small following for videos like “Hitchhiking Okinawa” and the truly cringe-worthy “What Americans think of Japan.” One of them, on the experience of being gay in Japan, attracted 75,000 views and dozens of thoughtful comments.

Dezaki didn’t think the reaction to his latest video was going to be any different, but he was wrong. “If I should have anticipated something, I should have anticipated the netouyu,” [sic] he told me, referring to the informal army of young, hyper-nationalist Japanese Web users who tend to descend on any article — or person — they perceive as critical of Japan.

But before the netouyu put Dezaki in their crosshairs, sending him death threats and hounding his employers, previous employers and even the local politicians who oversee his employers, there was just a teacher and his students.

Dezaki began his final lesson with a 1970 TV documentary, Eye of the Storm, often taught in American schools for its bracingly honest exploration of how good-hearted people — in this case, young children participating in an experiment — can turn to racism. After the video ended, he asked his students to raise their hands if they thought racism existed in Japan. Almost none did. They all thought of it as a uniquely American problem.

Gently, Dezaki showed his students that, yes, there is also racism in Japan. He carefully avoided the most extreme and controversial cases — for example, Japan’s wartime enslavement of Korean and other Asian women for sex, which the country today doesn’t fully acknowledge — pointing instead to such slang terms as “bakachon camera.” The phrase, which translates as “idiot Korean camera,” is meant to refer to disposable cameras so easy to use that even an idiot or a Korean could do it.

He really got his students’ attention when he talked about discrimination between Japanese groups. People from Okinawa, where Dezaki happened to be teaching, are sometimes looked down upon by other Japanese, he pointed out, and in the past have been treated as second-class citizens. Isn’t that discrimination?

“The reaction was so positive,” he recalled. For many of them, the class was a sort of an a-ha moment. “These kids have heard the stories of their parents being discriminated against by the mainland Japanese. They know this stuff. But the funny thing is that they weren’t making the connection that that was discrimination.” From there, it was easier for the students to accept that other popular Japanese attitudes about race or class might be discriminatory.

The vice principal of the school said he wished more Japanese students could hear the lesson. Dezaki didn’t get a single complaint. No one accused him of being an enemy of Japan.

That changed a week ago. Dezaki had recorded his July classes and, last Thursday, posted a six-minute video in which he narrated an abbreviated version of the lesson. It opens with a disclaimer that would prove both prescient and, for his critics, vastly insufficient. “I know there’s a lot of racism in America, and I’m not saying that America is better than Japan or anything like that,” he says. Here’s the video:

Also on Thursday, Dezaki posted the video, titled “Racism in Japan,” to the popular link-sharing site Reddit under its Japan-focused subsection, where he often comments. By this Saturday, the netouyu had discovered the video.

“I recently made a video about Racism in Japan, and am currently getting bombarded with some pretty harsh, irrational comments from Japanese people who think I am purposefully attacking Japan,” Dezaki wrote in a new post on Reddit’s Japan section, also known as r/Japan. The critics, he wrote, were “flood[ing] the comments section with confusion and spin.” But angry Web comments would turn out to be the least of his problems.

The netouyu make their home at a Web site called ni channeru, otherwise known as ni chan, 2chan or 2ch. Americans familiar with the bottommost depths of the Internet might know 2chan’s English-language spin-off, 4chan, which, like the original, is a message board famous for its crude discussions, graphic images (don’t open either on your work computer) and penchant for mischief that can sometimes cross into illegality.

Some 2chan users, perhaps curious about how their country is perceived abroad, will occasionally translate Reddit’s r/Japan posts into Japanese. When the “Racism in Japan” video made it onto 2chan, outraged users flocked to the comments section on YouTube to attempt to discredit the video. They attacked Dezaki as “anti-Japanese” and fumed at him for warping Japanese schoolchildren with “misinformation.”

Inevitably, at least one death threat appeared. Though it was presumably idle, like most threats made anonymously over the Web, it rattled him. Still, it’s no surprise that the netouyu’s initial campaign, like just about every effort to change a real-life debate by flooding some Web comments sections, went nowhere. So they escalated.

A few of the outraged Japanese found some personal information about Dezaki, starting with his until-then-secret real name and building up to contact information for his Japanese employers. Given Dezaki’s social media trail, it probably wasn’t hard. They proliferated the information using a file-sharing service called SkyDrive, urging fellow netouyu to take their fight off the message boards and into Dezaki’s personal life.

By Monday, superiors at the school in Japan were e-mailing him, saying they were bombarded with complaints. Though the video was based almost entirely on a lecture that they had once praised, they asked him to pull it down.

“Some Japanese guys found out which school I used to work at and now, I am being pressured to take down the ‘Racism in Japan’ video,” Dezaki posted on Reddit. “I’m not really sure what to do at this point. I don’t want to take down the video because I don’t believe I did anything wrong, and I don’t believe in giving into bullies who try to censor every taboo topic in Japan. What do you guys think?”

He decided to keep the video online, but placed a message over the first few sentences that, in English and Japanese, announce his refusal to take it down.

But the outrage continued to mount, both online and in the real world. At one point, Dezaki says he was contacted by an official in Okinawa’s board of education, who warned that a member of Japan’s legislature might raise it on the floor of the National Diet, Japan’s lower house of parliament. Apparently, the netouyu may have succeeded in elevating the issue from a YouTube comments field to regional and perhaps even national Japanese politics.

“I knew there were going to be some Japanese upset with me, but I didn’t expect this magnitude of a problem,” Dezaki said. “I didn’t expect them to call my board of education. That said, I wasn’t surprised, though. You know what I mean? They’re insane people.”

Nationalism is not unique to Japan, but it is strong there, tinged with the insecurity of a once-powerful nation on the decline and with the humiliation of defeat and American occupation at the end of World War II. Japan’s national constitution, which declares the country’s commitment to pacifism and thus implicitly maintains its reliance on the United States, was in some ways pressed on the country by the American military government that ruled it for several years. The Americans, rather than Japan’s own excesses, make an easy culprit for the country’s lowered global status.

That history is still raw in Japan, where nationalism and resentment of perceived American control often go hand-in-hand. Dezaki is an American, and his video seems to have hit on the belief among many nationalists that the Americans still condescend to, and ultimately seek to control, their country.

“I fell in love with Japan; I love Japan,” Dezaki says, explaining why he made the video in the first place. “And I want to see Japan become a better place. Because I do see these potential problems with racism and discrimination.” His students at Okinawa seemed to benefit from the lesson, but a number of others don’t seem ready to hear it.


COMMENT BY DEBITO: Miki Dezaki contacted me last week for some advice about how to deal with this (I watched the abovementioned video on “Racism in Japan” and found it to be a valuable teaching aid, especially since it reconnected me with “Eye of the Storm“, the original of which I saw in grade school four decades ago); the only major problem I have with it is that it neglects to mention current stripes of racism against immigrants and Visible Minorities in Japan), and told him to stand his ground. Now the “Netouyo” (Netto Uyoku, or Internet Right-Wing, misspelled throughout the article above) have stepped up their pressure and attacks on him, and authorities aren’t being courageous enough to stand up to them. Now that his issue has been published in the Washington Post, I can quote this article and let that represent the debate.

The focus of the debate is this:  a perpetual weak spot regarding bullying in Japanese society.  We have loud invisible complainants cloaked by the Internet, who can espouse hateful sentiments against people and shout down historical and current social problems, and they aren’t simply ignored and seen as the cowards they are: anonymous bullies who lack the strength of their convictions to appear in public and take responsibility for their comments and death threats. People in authority must learn to ignore them, for these gnats only get further emboldened by any attention and success they receive.  The implicit irony in all of this is that they take advantage of the right to “freedom of speech” to try and deny the same rights to those they merely disagree with.  I hope that sense prevails and the debate is allowed to proceed and videos stay up.  Miki has done admirable work making all this information (including translations into Japanese) on uncomfortable truths accessible to a Japanese audience.  Bravo, Miki.  Stand your ground. Readers, please lend your support.  Arudou Debito


NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”


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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article that has been forwarded me by quite a few people.  Pretty good job, and it looks like a few of the sources for the hate speech might have come from  Good.  Shine a light on these horrible little men.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign
New York Times August 28, 2010, Courtesy of lots and lots of people

KYOTO, Japan — The demonstrators appeared one day in December, just as children at an elementary school for ethnic Koreans were cleaning up for lunch. The group of about a dozen Japanese men gathered in front of the school gate, using bullhorns to call the students cockroaches and Korean spies.

Inside, the panicked students and teachers huddled in their classrooms, singing loudly to drown out the insults, as parents and eventually police officers blocked the protesters’ entry.

The December episode was the first in a series of demonstrations at the Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School that shocked conflict-averse Japan, where even political protesters on the radical fringes are expected to avoid embroiling regular citizens, much less children. Responding to public outrage, the police arrested four of the protesters this month on charges of damaging the school’s reputation.

More significantly, the protests also signaled the emergence here of a new type of ultranationalist group. The groups are openly anti-foreign in their message, and unafraid to win attention by holding unruly street demonstrations.

Since first appearing last year, their protests have been directed at not only Japan’s half million ethnic Koreans, but also Chinese and other Asian workers, Christian churchgoers and even Westerners in Halloween costumes. In the latter case, a few dozen angrily shouting demonstrators followed around revelers waving placards that said, “This is not a white country.”

Local news media have dubbed these groups the Net far right, because they are loosely organized via the Internet, and gather together only for demonstrations. At other times, they are a virtual community that maintains its own Web sites to announce the times and places of protests, swap information and post video recordings of their demonstrations.

While these groups remain a small if noisy fringe element here, they have won growing attention as an alarming side effect of Japan’s long economic and political decline. Most of their members appear to be young men, many of whom hold the low-paying part-time or contract jobs that have proliferated in Japan in recent years.

Though some here compare these groups to neo-Nazis, sociologists say that they are different because they lack an aggressive ideology of racial supremacy, and have so far been careful to draw the line at violence. There have been no reports of injuries, or violence beyond pushing and shouting. Rather, the Net right’s main purpose seems to be venting frustration, both about Japan’s diminished stature and in their own personal economic difficulties.

“These are men who feel disenfranchised in their own society,” said Kensuke Suzuki, a sociology professor at Kwansei Gakuin University. “They are looking for someone to blame, and foreigners are the most obvious target.”

They are also different from Japan’s existing ultranationalist groups, which are a common sight even today in Tokyo, wearing paramilitary uniforms and riding around in ominous black trucks with loudspeakers that blare martial music.

This traditional far right, which has roots going back to at least the 1930s rise of militarism in Japan, is now a tacitly accepted part of the conservative political establishment here. Sociologists describe them as serving as a sort of unofficial mechanism for enforcing conformity in postwar Japan, singling out Japanese who were seen as straying too far to the left, or other groups that anger them, such as embassies of countries with whom Japan has territorial disputes.

Members of these old-line rightist groups have been quick to distance themselves from the Net right, which they dismiss as amateurish rabble-rousers.

“These new groups are not patriots but attention-seekers,” said Kunio Suzuki, a senior adviser of the Issuikai, a well-known far-right group with 100 members and a fleet of sound trucks.

But in a sign of changing times here, Mr. Suzuki also admitted that the Net right has grown at a time when traditional ultranationalist groups like his own have been shrinking. Mr. Suzuki said the number of old-style rightists has fallen to about 12,000, one-tenth the size of their 1960s’ peak.

No such estimates exist for the size of the new Net right. However, the largest group appears to be the cumbersomely named Citizens Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan, known here by its Japanese abbreviation, the Zaitokukai, which has some 9,000 members.

The Zaitokukai gained notoriety last year when it staged noisy protests at the home and junior high school of a 14-year-old Philippine girl, demanding her deportation after her parents were sent home for overstaying their visas. More recently, the Zaitokukai picketed theaters showing “The Cove,” an American documentary about dolphin hunting here that rightists branded as anti-Japanese.

In interviews, members of the Zaitokukai and other groups blamed foreigners, particularly Koreans and Chinese, for Japan’s growing crime and unemployment, and also for what they called their nation’s lack of respect on the world stage. Many seemed to embrace conspiracy theories taken from the Internet that China or the United States were plotting to undermine Japan.

“Japan has a shrinking pie,” said Masaru Ota, 37, a medical equipment salesman who headed the local chapter of the Zaitokukai in Omiya, a Tokyo suburb. “Should we be sharing it with foreigners at a time when Japanese are suffering?”

While the Zaitokukai has grown rapidly since it was started three and a half years ago with just 25 members, it is still largely run by its founder and president, a 38-year-old tax accountant who goes by the assumed name of Makoto Sakurai. Mr. Sakurai leads the group from his tiny office in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district, where he taps out announcements and other postings on his personal computer.

Mr. Sakurai says the group is not racist, and rejected the comparison with neo-Nazis. Instead, he said he had modeled his group after another overseas political movement, the Tea Party in the United States. He said he had studied videos of Tea Party protests, and shared with the Tea Party an angry sense that his nation had gone in the wrong direction because it had fallen into the hands of leftist politicians, liberal media as well as foreigners.

“They have made Japan powerless to stand up to China and Korea,” said Mr. Sakurai, who refused to give his real name.

Mr. Sakurai admitted that the group’s tactics had shocked many Japanese, but said they needed to win attention. He also defended the protests at the Korean school in Kyoto as justified to oppose the school’s use of a nearby public park, which he said rightfully belonged to Japanese children.

Teachers and parents at the school called that a flimsy excuse to vent what amounted to racist rage. They said the protests had left them and their children fearful.

“If Japan doesn’t do something to stop this hate language,” said Park Chung-ha, 43, who heads the school’s mothers association, “where will it lead to next?”


Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility


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Hi Blog.  Here’s something that adds up to another brick in the wall against internet bullies and defamers in Japan (who play a significant role in the debate, surprisingly).  The Supreme Court rules that the defense often utilized by proponents of bullying and slandering BBS 2-Channel, that people can discern for themselves what is fact or fiction, therefore issues such as defamation are irrelevant to a free-speech-loving society, simply won’t wash anymore.  Sorry it has to come to this, but freedom of speech does not mean freedom to lie and willfully, maliciously hurt people.  Or get away with not paying up after successful libel lawsuits like the one I had four years ago.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo


Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
(Mainichi Japan) March 19, 2010 Courtesy of MS

Just because a piece of information is published on the Internet, viewers do not necessarily deem it to be of low credibility. So ruled the Supreme Court recently in a defamation suit in which a man was accused of slandering a restaurant operator on his own Web site, saying that the company was affiliated with a cult.

The top’s court’s ruling secures a guilty verdict that ordered the man to pay 300,000 yen in compensation. It was the first ruling to confirm that the conditions for establishing defamation were not relaxed on the Internet.

Considering that people are often slandered, have their privacy violated, and sometimes even suffer human rights violations on the Internet — where users can post comments anonymously — the Supreme Court’s decision can be deemed appropriate.

In 2008 there were more than 500 online cases involving human rights violations in which the Ministry of Justice initiated relief measures. The figure was 2.5 times higher than in 2004. And in 2008 there were over 11,000 cases in which people approached police saying that they had been slandered. The figures indicate that there are many potential victims.

In what kind of situations do people not face defamation charges? One instance involves reports on information of public benefit, when the purpose of reporting the information is for public benefit and the information is true, or there are sufficient grounds to believe it is true. This has been established through judicial precedents.

In a district court ruling in the defamation case, the court found the man not guilty on the grounds that information on the Internet was of lower credibility and other users were able to rebut inappropriate claims. The court applied a more relaxed standard than the standard applied to newspaper and television reporting.

But in the latest ruling, the Supreme Court declared, “Online information is available to the general public very quickly, and it can cause serious damage in some cases. There is no guarantee that rebuttal of the information will restore a person’s reputation.” It judged that the standard should not be altered just for the Internet.

Internet users must keep in mind that if they post one-sided claims without backing up the information with evidence, or violate the privacy of others without confirming any of the facts with the person concerned, they may be accused of a crime.

Irresponsible and excessive words and deeds must not be permitted, regardless of whether they appear on the Internet or elsewhere. In the field of education, efforts are being made to provide instruction with teachers on hand to ensure that children do not get caught up in Internet crimes or engage in harassment online. As more people express themselves on blogs and other online forums, we want teachers to inform children that expression goes hand in hand with responsibility.

Under the limitation liability law for Internet providers, victims whose rights are violated can ask providers to delete posts or provide information on the ID of the person who posted the data. However, the decision on whether to comply with the request is left up to the provider.

Responding to the current situation in which child pornography or illegal information on drugs is being left unchecked on the Internet, the National Police Agency is reportedly preparing to actively pursue the criminal responsibility of site administrations who ignore requests to delete the information. Malicious cases of defamation are likely to be included as a matter of course.

We want everyone to come together to consider the appropriate form of a healthy Internet society.


社説:ネット中傷有罪 「無責任さ」への警鐘だ
毎日新聞 2010年3月19日 2時46分












Weekend Tangent: 2-Channel BBS downed by Korean cyberhackers


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Hi Blog. As a Weekend Tangent, we have the lair of bullies and libelers, Internet BBS “2-Channel”, getting something back for their nastiness — a hack attack taking them down.  Sometimes when legal channels are ineffective to stop illegal activity (such as libel), there is no choice but to use extralegal means, as the Koreans did below. Compare it with the Right-Wing J sound trucks that went after Brazilians at Homi Danchi, and got firebombed for their trouble. Couldn’t have happened to nicer people, even though the big, big fish, Nishimura, has long since jumped ship. Here’s hoping the Internet nits are stupid enough to attack some real domestic powers and finally have some laws against their activities created. More of my opinions about 2-Channel here.’s complete archive here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan’s top web forum hacked over skater
Korean hackers take down site after comments against skater Kim Yu-Na
NBC Mar 2, 2010, courtesy of N

TOKYO — Japan’s top Internet forum 2channel was offline Tuesday after an apparent mass hacker attack from South Korea over slanderous comments on their Olympic figure skating queen Kim Yu-Na.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that more than 10,000 users had launched a “concerted cyber offensive” and coordinated their attacks through web communities since Monday against the popular site

The site, launched in 1999, allows users to post comments on hundreds of topics, from politics and sports to entertainment and manga cartoons, without providing a user name, a model meant to boost online freedom of speech.

But the site has repeatedly become a forum for right-wing nationalists and users posting xenophobic slurs, especially against South Korea and China.

The 2ch forum is Japan’s largest online bulletin board by number of users and page views, according to Internet research firm NetRatings Japan.

The site was not accessible on Tuesday, but its search lists showed Japanese-language attacks had earlier been posted against Kim, who beat Japanese rival Mao Asada to take gold at the Vancouver Winter Games.

South Korea’s JoongAng Daily reported online that the cyber war was launched on Monday, the anniversary of a 1919 uprising against Japanese colonial rule that became known as the March First Movement.

South Koreans have often been angered by comments on the messaging forum, including one that called a deadly attack against a South Korean college student in February in Irkutsk “Russia’s good deed”, Yonhap reported.

The 2ch forum has often drawn controversy at home as some of its anonymous users have posted death threats and verbal attacks against high-profile figures that have led to legal action against the site’s operators.


Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation


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Hi Blog.  An update on how Japan’s police forces are cracking down on the nastiness of the Internet.  About time.  Now if only Japan’s police would only enforce past pertinent Civil Court decisions...  Arudou Debito in Kumamoto


Police send papers on Net flamers / Crackdown against comments on comedian’s blog seen as defamation warning

Police on Friday sent papers to prosecutors on six people suspected of defaming or threatening to physically harm comedian Smiley Kikuchi in messages they posted on his blog after groundlessly concluding he was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1989.

Of the six whose cases were sent to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, two are suspected of threatening to physically harm Kikuchi, 37, on his blog. The remaining four–including a 45-year-old male university employee of Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, and a male company employee, 36, of Toda, Saitama Prefecture–are suspected of defaming him, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The two suspected of threatening Kikuchi with bodily harm, including a 36-year-old male construction worker of Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, allegedly continued sending threatening messages to Kikuchi through the blog even after he restricted access to its message board in April.

It is the first time a case has been built simultaneously against multiple flamers over mass attacks on a blog. The police’s reaction represents a strong warning against making online comments that cross the line from freedom of expression to defamation or threats.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the four suspected of defaming the comedian posted vicious comments, three or four times each, between early April and mid-August last year, wrongly concluding that he was involved in a 1989 murder in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, in which a high school girl was killed and her body abandoned in a drum and covered in cement.

The messages posted by the four included “You murderer! Why don’t you drop dead?” and “[You are] the one suspected of involvement in the confinement, assault and murder of a high school girl.”

The two suspected of threatening Kikuchi posted messages once and twice, respectively, between early May and early June, with one of them writing in a message: “Many guys are targeting you. Die!”

As the message board of the blog was flooded with malicious comments–including one that read, “How come a murderer can be a comedian?”–since it was set up in January last year. Kikuchi filed a complaint with the MPD in August.

The police had been investigating 18 people they were able to identify.

The police concluded that four of the 18 repeatedly posted vicious messages or made groundless accusations related to the murder.

Of the remaining 14 flamers, two were accused of making threats as they posted messages in which they clearly indicated their intention to harm the comedian.


Insults rife online

More than 3,000 messages expressing the hardship Internet users suffered as a result of defamation on the Internet were posted on a comedian’s blog after police announced in February they would pursue criminal responsibility for people who posted messages there wrongly accusing him of involvement in the 1989 murder of a teenage girl.

In messages posted on the blog of comedian Smiley Kikuchi, 37, people related their experiences after being the target of abuse on the Internet. One person posted a message expressing feelings of helplessness as he or she had to bear the pain silently.

According to the police, Kikuchi has been the subject of groundless defamation accusing him of involvement in the high school girl’s murder in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. The girl was killed by a group of teenage boys and her body left in a drum and covered in cement. The comedian’s blog has been flooded with similar messages since he set it up.

After the Metropolitan Police Department announced it was planning to send papers to prosecutors on people whose messages were especially malicious, Kikuchi expressed on Feb. 5 his feelings about the problem and how the defamatory messages escalated on his blog.

After that, more than 3,000 messages, many of them encouraging Kikuchi, were posted on his blog. The senders related their experiences of receiving verbal violence from anonymous people, including being harassed on their blogs or being defamed on informal alternative school bulletin boards. One person said harassing messages were even sent to his or her workplace.

According to the National Police Agency, it received 81,994 consultations about cybercrime from citizens last year–up 12 percent from 2007–with 11,516 from people complaining they were defamed on blogs and Internet bulletin boards. The number exceeded 10,000 for the first time.

(Mar. 28, 2009)

NYT on “The Trolls among us” and measures against trollery


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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of an excellent (if overlong) article from the NYT about Internet trolls, the world they inhabit, and the logical games they employ.  For many, this will be a rude awakening, for if they tried to deal with trolls like this reasonably (when trolls had no intention of ever being reasonable) or (heaven forbid) empathize with them, this is what they got for their trouble.  For the trolls themselves, it’ll be more like, “WTF, it’s your own fault for ever taking us seriously!  What took you so long to figure us out?”  It’s a good read and will convince people who care overmuch about what other people think to stop doing so if the other person is anonymous or pseudonymous.  It’s about time the earnest people on the Internet took some measures against the intellectual gamers and malicious life wasters.  Article courtesy of  Norik.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  After I indicated recently that malicious comments will not be approved on, they have completely dried up.  It works.  All trolls crave is an audience and a reaction.  Don’t give them one.


New York Times August 3, 2008

The Trolls Among Us

Courtesy of Norik.

One afternoon in the spring of 2006, for reasons unknown to those who knew him, Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader from Rochester, Minn., took a .22-caliber rifle down from a shelf in his parents’ bedroom closet and shot himself in the head. The next morning, Mitchell’s school assembled in the gym to begin mourning. His classmates created a virtual memorial on MySpace and garlanded it with remembrances. One wrote that Mitchell was “an hero to take that shot, to leave us all behind. God do we wish we could take it back. . . . ” Someone e-mailed a clipping of Mitchell’s newspaper obituary to, a Web site that links to the MySpace pages of the dead. From MyDeathSpace, Mitchell’s page came to the attention of an Internet message board known as /b/ and the “trolls,” as they have come to be called, who dwell there.

/b/ is the designated “random” board of, a group of message boards that draws more than 200 million page views a month. A post consists of an image and a few lines of text. Almost everyone posts as “anonymous.” In effect, this makes /b/ a panopticon in reverse — nobody can see anybody, and everybody can claim to speak from the center. The anonymous denizens of 4chan’s other boards — devoted to travel, fitness and several genres of pornography — refer to the /b/-dwellers as “/b/tards.”

Measured in terms of depravity, insularity and traffic-driven turnover, the culture of /b/ has little precedent. /b/ reads like the inside of a high-school bathroom stall, or an obscene telephone party line, or a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand.

Something about Mitchell Henderson struck the denizens of /b/ as funny. They were especially amused by a reference on his MySpace page to a lostiPod. Mitchell Henderson, /b/ decided, had killed himself over a lost iPod. The “an hero” meme was born. Within hours, the anonymous multitudes were wrapping the tragedy of Mitchell’s death in absurdity.

Someone hacked Henderson’s MySpace page and gave him the face of a zombie. Someone placed an iPod on Henderson’s grave, took a picture and posted it to /b/. Henderson’s face was appended to dancing iPods, spinning iPods, hardcore porn scenes. A dramatic re-enactment of Henderson’s demise appeared on YouTube, complete with shattered iPod. The phone began ringing at Mitchell’s parents’ home. “It sounded like kids,” remembers Mitchell’s father, Mark Henderson, a 44-year-old I.T. executive. “They’d say, ‘Hi, this is Mitchell, I’m at the cemetery.’ ‘Hi, I’ve got Mitchell’s iPod.’ ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?’ ” He sighed. “It really got to my wife.” The calls continued for a year and a half.

In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities. Early trolling was relatively innocuous, taking place inside of small, single-topic Usenet groups. The trolls employed what the M.I.T. professor Judith Donath calls a “pseudo-naïve” tactic, asking stupid questions and seeing who would rise to the bait. The game was to find out who would see through this stereotypical newbie behavior, and who would fall for it. As one guide to trolldom puts it, “If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.”

Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling — for provoking strangers online — have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.

“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll who, like many people I contacted, refused to disclose his legal identity.

Another troll explained the lulz as a quasi-thermodynamic exchange between the sensitive and the cruel: “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz. Rules would be simple: 1. Do whatever it takes to get lulz. 2. Make sure the lulz is widely distributed. This will allow for more lulz to be made. 3. The game is never over until all the lulz have been had.”

/b/ is not all bad. 4chan has tried (with limited success) to police itself, using moderators to purge child porn and eliminate calls to disrupt other sites. Among /b/’s more interesting spawn is Anonymous, a group of masked pranksters who organized protests at Church of Scientology branches around the world.

But the logic of lulz extends far beyond /b/ to the anonymous message boards that seem to be springing up everywhere. Two female Yale Law School students have filed a suit against pseudonymous users who posted violent fantasies about them on AutoAdmit, a college-admissions message board. In China, anonymous nationalists are posting death threats against pro-Tibet activists, along with their names and home addresses. Technology, apparently, does more than harness the wisdom of the crowd. It can intensify its hatred as well.


Why inflict anguish on a helpless stranger? It’s tempting to blame technology, which increases the range of our communications while dehumanizing the recipients. Cases like An Hero and Megan Meier presumably wouldn’t happen if the perpetrators had to deliver their messages in person. But while technology reduces the social barriers that keep us from bedeviling strangers, it does not explain the initial trolling impulse. This seems to spring from something ugly — a destructive human urge that many feel but few act upon, the ambient misanthropy that’s a frequent ingredient of art, politics and, most of all, jokes. There’s a lot of hate out there, and a lot to hate as well.

So far, despite all this discord, the Internet’s system of civil machines has proved more resilient than anyone imagined. As early as 1994, the head of the Internet Society warned that spam “will destroy the network.” The news media continually present the online world as a Wild West infested with villainous hackers, spammers and pedophiles. And yet the Internet is doing very well for a frontier town on the brink of anarchy. Its traffic is expected to quadruple by 2012. To say that trolls pose a threat to the Internet at this point is like saying that crows pose a threat to farming.

That the Internet is now capacious enough to host an entire subculture of users who enjoy undermining its founding values is yet another symptom of its phenomenal success. It may not be a bad thing that the least-mature users have built remote ghettos of anonymity where the malice is usually intramural. But how do we deal with cases like An Hero, epilepsy hacks and the possibility of real harm being inflicted on strangers?

Several state legislators have recently proposed cyberbullying measures. At the federal level, Representative Linda Sánchez, a Democrat from California, has introduced the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, which would make it a federal crime to send any communications with intent to cause “substantial emotional distress.” In June, Lori Drew pleaded not guilty to charges that she violated federal fraud laws by creating a false identity “to torment, harass, humiliate and embarrass” another user, and by violating MySpace’s terms of service. But hardly anyone bothers to read terms of service, and millions create false identities. “While Drew’s conduct is immoral, it is a very big stretch to call it illegal,” wrote the online-privacy expert Prof. Daniel J. Solove on the blog Concurring Opinions.

Many trolling practices, like prank-calling the Hendersons and intimidating Kathy Sierra, violate existing laws against harassment and threats. The difficulty is tracking down the perpetrators. In order to prosecute, investigators must subpoena sites and Internet service providers to learn the original author’s IP address, and from there, his legal identity. Local police departments generally don’t have the means to follow this digital trail, and federal investigators have their hands full with spam, terrorism, fraud and child pornography. But even if we had the resources to aggressively prosecute trolls, would we want to? Are we ready for an Internet where law enforcement keeps watch over every vituperative blog and backbiting comments section, ready to spring at the first hint of violence? Probably not. All vigorous debates shade into trolling at the perimeter; it is next to impossible to excise the trolling without snuffing out the debate.


Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies


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Hi Blog. Further to my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this week, here is somebody else who is finally taking action against Internet stalkers and bullies. Smiley Kikuchi, a comedian (whose name is listed in today’s Yomiuri), has finally gotten the NPA to get off their asses and actually prosecute people criminally for posting threatening messages.

Good for him. I get death threats all too frequently. The first time I got a major death threat, the police did nothing except take the threat letter, hold it for six years, and send it back with “inconclusive results”. The second time, much the same. In Smiley’s case, the messages were posted directly to his blog, by fools who didn’t realize that (unlike 2channel) their IP addresses would be visible.

Given how inept I consider the NPA to be about enforcing its own mandate, or even court decisions, I usually just delete messages to my blog that are malicious or threatening in tone. Now, thanks to Smiley, they just might be legally actionable. Thanks, Smiley. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


18 people to be prosecuted over insulting messages on comedian’s blog

TOKYO —Police plan to establish a criminal case against 18 men and women on charges of allegedly posting a number of defamatory messages on a comedian’s blog, police sources said Thursday.

In launching what is believed to be the first such move associated with mass attacks on a blog in Japan, the Metropolitan Police Department said the 18 people, aged from 17 to 45, posted defamatory messages suggesting that the 37-year-old comedian is the perpetrator in the 1988 murder of a high school girl in Tokyo.

Some of the messages included: “How can a murderer be a comedian?” and “Die, you murderer,” according to police.

Investigators, acting on a complaint filed by the comedian, have identified those who posted the messages and decided to establish a criminal case against them, the sources said.

Among the 18 are a 17-year-old high school girl from Sapporo, a 35-year-old man from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, and a 45-year-old man from Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture.

The suspects allegedly defamed the comedian by posting malicious comments between January and April 2008, suggesting that the comedian was involved in the highly publicized murder case in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward in 1988, which resulted in prison sentences for four minors.

The comedian, whose name has been withheld, launched his career about 10 years ago, characterizing himself as ‘‘an ex-hoodlum from Adachi Ward,’’ which apparently attracted the messages connecting him to the brutal murder that came to light after the girl’s remains were found in a drum filled with concrete.

He temporarily closed his blog due to the flood of malignant messages but reopened it in January last year, only to draw the defamatory messages again.

Investigators believe dozens of people have posted several hundred vicious messages on the blog, the sources said.

This is probably the first criminal case to be built over intense online attacks on a particular blog, the National Police Agency said.

The latest move by police came amid an increasing number of ‘‘flaming’’ blogs, particularly blogs by celebrities, TV personalities and notable sports athletes.

In one case, a commentator’s blog was forced to close in 2006 due to a flood of slanderous messages, and a man was arrested and given a suspended prison term the following year for threatening the commentator on Japan’s largest anonymous electronic bulletin board ‘‘2channel.’’



Papers sent on woman over flaming of comedian
The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb. 6, 2009

Police on Thursday sent papers to prosecutors on a woman suspected of threatening to kill a well-known comedian in a message she posted on his blog after wrongly concluding he was involved in a girl’s murder in 1989.

According to the police, the 29-year-old woman, a temporary worker from Kawasaki, has admitted posting the message on the blog of Smiley Kikuchi, 37, who regularly appears on TV.

The Metropolitan Police Department also plans to send papers to prosecutors on 18 people suspecting of defaming Kikuchi by posting hundreds of malicious messages between January and April 2008.

The woman reportedly believed messages on the blog that claimed Kikuchi had been involved in the murder and “couldn’t forgive him.”

The woman sent a message from her computer on Dec. 26 to the comedian’s blog saying, “I’ll kill you,” police said.

Online bulletin boards and a blog set up by Kikuchi in January 2008 were flooded with messages suggesting he was involved in the murder of the high school girl in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. Her body was abandoned in a cement-filled drum.

Kikuchi restricted access to the blog’s message board in April and filed a complaint with the police. He lifted the restrictions on Dec. 24.

According to the police, the woman came to the conclusion that the comedian and late TV personality Ai Iijima were involved in the murder. The woman based her belief on information she found on Iijima’s Web site and several other sites after learning from media reports that Iijima had been found dead in her Shibuya Ward apartment on Dec. 24.

“I thought I could never forgive people who had been party to a crime like murder,” the woman reportedly told police.

The 18 people, aged between 17 and 45, allegedly made groundless accusations on the blog that the comedian is a murderer.

The case is an example of flaming, which refers to personal and/or defamatory attacks by users against others on Internet bulletin boards, chat rooms, Web pages and blogs over the target user’s attitude or remarks.
(Feb. 6, 2009)



Update: One more from the Japan Times

NPA probes 19 over slander on comedian’s blog
The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

By REIJI YOSHIDA Staff writer

In a rare Internet crackdown, police have turned over to prosecutors their case against a 29-year-old woman and plan to hand another 18 suspects over for abusive comments posted on the blog of a 37-year-old Japanese comedian, police sources said Thursday.

The 29-year-old Kawasaki woman allegedly posted a death threat on the blog of comedian Smiley Kikuchi, writing “I will kill you” in December, a police source said.

The other 18 include a 17-year-old girl and 45-year-old man, who allegedly posted messages last year claiming the comedian was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1988, the source said.

The allegation is groundless and police are sending the cases to prosecutors on suspicion of defamation, the source said.

This case is likely the first crackdown on what is known in Internet parlance as a flame attack, or “enjo” in Japanese, as far as the National Policy Agency knows, an NPA official told The Japan Times.

Many bloggers, including well-known TV celebrities, have been flamed recently, and many have shut down their blogs because of the rumors or abusive language.

In Kikuchi’s case, anonymous Internet users have been accusing the comedian of participating in the murder of a high school girl who was encased in concrete and dumped.

Hundreds of messages denouncing him as a murderer have reportedly been posted on the blog and many other Web sites recently.

Kikuchi and his agent, Ohta Production Inc., initially declined comment out of fear of drawing further attacks on the Web. But Kikuchi released a comment later in the day saying the information in circulation contains factual errors.

“For about 10 years, I, Smiley Kikuchi, have been suffering from slanderous remarks from anonymous people all over the Internet,” he said.

“All (of the Web allegations) are groundless. . . . The attacks have escalated to the point where I myself feel my life is in danger,” he said in a written statement.

He also said that some media reports said a TV agency once marketed Kikuchi using the catchphrase “former delinquent boy,” but that the reports were all wrong.

“I express my deep appreciation to the police officers who conducted the investigation and pray that an incident like this will never happen again,” he said.
The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009


Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Feb 3, 2009: “2channel the bullies’ forum”


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Hi Blog.  Here’s yesterday’s article in the Japan Times.   Enjoy.  Debito in Sapporo

2channel: the bullies’ forum

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Bullying in Japan is a big problem. The victims have limited recourse. Too often they are told to suck it up and self-reflect. Or if they fight back, they get criticized for lashing out. It’s a destructive dynamic, causing much misery and many a suicide.

The bullies are empowered by an odd phenomenon: In Japan, the right to know your accuser is not a given. When kids get criticized by the anonymous rumor mill, authorities make insufficient efforts to disclose who said what. The blindfolded bullied become powerless: There are lots of them and one of you, and unless you put names to critics they escalate with impunity.

Internet bulletin board (BBS) 2channel, the world’s largest, is the ultimate example of this dynamic. Although the BBS is very useful for public discussions, its debate firestorms also target and hurt individuals. This flurry of bullies is guaranteed anonymity through undisclosed Internet Protocol addresses, meaning they avoid the scrutiny they mete out to others.

Why absolute anonymity? 2channel’s founder and coordinator, Hiroyuki Nishimura, believes it liberates debate and provides true freedom of speech. People speak without reservation because nobody knows who they are.

Quite. But freedom of speech is not absolute. It does not grant freedom to lie or deceive (as in fraud), nor to engage in malicious behavior designed to hinder calm and free discourse. The classic example is the lack of freedom to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But libel and slander, where people willfully lie to assassinate characters and destroy lives, is also beyond the pale.

Japan does have checks against libel — lawsuits. Dozens of civil court cases have been brought against 2channel. When a problematic post appears, victims contact the BBS coordinator and request its removal. Alas, many get ignored. Then, when taken to court, Nishimura ignores summons to appear. Finally, even after losing dozens of times in court, Nishimura refuses to pay out. Years later, adjudged libelous posts (some about your correspondent) are still online and proliferating.

How is this possible? The Internet is a new media, and the judiciary hasn’t caught up. If a newspaper or TV station publicizes erroneous information, they too can be sued. But the old media are more accountable. They have to register their corporation and get a license, so their wherewithal’s whereabouts is public. If they lose and don’t pay, the court will file a lien on their assets and withdraw the award for the plaintiffs.

However, in cyberspace people can start a “media outlet” without incorporation or licensing, meaning their assets remain invisible. Nishimura owes millions of dollars in court penalties, but unless he divulges his personal bank accounts, his wages can’t be seized.

The dynamic becomes watertight thanks to a weakness in Japan’s judiciary: In this case, one cannot convert a civil suit into a criminal case through “contempt of court.” No cops will arrest him for being on the lam. Plaintiffs must hire their own private detectives to dig up Nishimura’s assets. No checks, no balances, and the bully society remains above the law.

The abuses continue. Last month, cops decided to arrest a 2channeler who issued a death threat against sumo wrestler Asashoryu. About time: Hate-posters have long vilified ethnic minorities, threatened individuals, and waged cyberwars to deny others the freedom of speech they apparently so cherish.

Meanwhile, Nishimura keeps on wriggling. Last month he announced 2channel’s sale to a Singaporean firm, making his assets even more unaccountable.

Some salute Nishimura as a “hero” and an “evangelist.” He’s also a willing abettor in the pollution of cyberspace, legitimizing an already powerful domestic bully culture with a worldwide audience. He had his day in court to explain himself. He didn’t show. He lost. Now he must pay up.

If not, there will be blow-back. Our government has already made reactionary overtures to limit “illegal or harmful content” (whatever that means) on the Internet. Be advised: Once you give the unsophisticated Japanese police a vague mandate over anything, you’ll have random enforcement and policy creep, as usual. Kaplooey goes cyberfreedom of speech.

Unless contempt of court procedures are tightened up to reflect the realities of new media, I believe Nishimura will be remembered historically as the irresponsible kid who spoiled the Internet for the rest of us.

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” More on his 2006 libel lawsuit victory at Send comments to
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  After years of online threats against me (by people who can neither do research or demonstrate any reading comprehension) for apparently either bankrupting their beloved 2-Channel, or taking it over through lawsuit victory (both untrue, but anonymous Netizen bullies never held truth or fact in high regard), 2-Channel founder and coordinator Nishimura Hiroyuki sold off his golden goose.  One which he claimed made him a comfortable living — and a safe haven from libel lawsuits.

No longer.  If he ever sets foot in the real world, with a real salary and a real traceable bank account, he’ll never earn money again.  There are dozens of people who have an outstanding lien on his assets thanks to court rulings against him.  I am among them.  He knows that.  Let’s see how many steps this abetting polluter of cyberspace can keep ahead of the authorities.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

2channel founder ponders next step after forum’s sale

The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009


By ALEX MARTIN, Staff writer, Courtesy of MS

A short message recently posted on Hiroyuki Nishimura’s personal blog sent shock waves across the online community. In a single sentence dated Jan. 2, he announced that he had sold 2channel, his wildly popular Internet forum.

News photo
Upstart: Hiroyuki Nishimura, 2channel founder, speaks with The Japan Times in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, Monday. ALEX MARTIN PHOTO

The news, and further revelations that rights to the Web site were handed over to a little-known Singapore-based company, immediately raised concerns and questions among Internet users and the media over the fate of what has been called the world’s largest and Japan’s most influential online forum.

“I thought it might be interesting if I sold it (2channel) off, to see if there would be any difference if it was owned by a company, rather than myself,” Nishimura told The Japan Times this week during the first long interview with the media after he made the surprising announcement.

Details of the company, Packet Monster Inc., and Nishimura’s intentions behind the action remain unclear. Speculation abounds, however, that the move may be a legal trick to deflect further lawsuits filed against Nishimura for the site’s frequently libelous content.

Nishimura also declined comment on the price tag attached to the Web site, which was owned and managed by Nishimura alone with the help of an army of volunteers, backed by a server in San Francisco.

Since he founded it 10 years ago, 2channel has revolutionized the role the Internet plays in public opinion by permitting Japanese to express anonymously their innermost sentiments, uncensored and unfiltered — a rarity in a nation known for decorum.

Nishimura himself compares 2channel with the sprawling, seedy pleasure zone in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. The Web site is the Kabukicho of cyberspace, he says — a place where people tired of clean, well-regulated daily life can repair to be themselves and indulge their baser instincts.

The forum is notorious for libelous postings that target individuals or institutions. And although the site does have a rule calling for deletion of such postings, its sheer size makes that difficult.

Nishimura — known by his first name Hiroyuki in online communities and Japanese media — has lost most of the lawsuits but has so far adamantly ignored court rulings and refused to pay the hundreds of million of yen he owes in penalties.

And now he is making things even more difficult for litigants by selling the site to a new owner and planning a possible move abroad.

“When I was managing the site, I was the one getting sued. But I don’t go to trials, and I haven’t paid a single yen. In that sense, I guess nothing will change,” Nishimura, 32, replied when asked whether the incorporation of the forum would alter his stance toward the sea of litigation and rulings he faces.

A communications ministry official raised suspicions that the handover would further complicate any future judicial process involving the forum.

“If a lawsuit is filed against 2channel from now, in general I believe the company in Singapore would be the one handling it,” the official said, stressing that in either case, everything depended on Nishimura’s future involvement with the Web site, and that they lacked sufficient information to make any assertions.

Founded by Nishimura in 1999 during his year studying in Arkansas, 2channel has ballooned over the years in both the number of users — an estimated 10 million currently — and its social implication. The forum’s hundreds of boards and thousands of threads dealing with vast and far-ranging topics have had both companies and authorities monitoring the site for anything from recent trends to the latest anonymous tip on murder threats.

Most recently, this month an anonymous warning led police to arrest a Hokkaido man for posting messages on 2channel threatening to kill Mongolian sumo superstar Asashoryu.

Its scope and influence have on occasion propelled it into the realm of bullying, with angry users ganging up and hacking or crashing other Web sites.

Dentsu Buzz Research, a division of advertisement giant Dentsu Inc. that analyzes blogs and forum articles posted on the Net by consumers, told The Japan Times that out of the more than 2.8 billion articles they have monitored since November 2006, 75 percent were posted on 2channel.

The research division’s spokesman said, “2channel is extremely influential as an online information source, and cannot be ignored.”

When questioned whether there would be any change in 2channel operations that accommodated the shift in management, Nishimura gave the ambiguous response: “I won’t be the one making the decisions, I guess.”

He explained that he used to be the main moderator when an online discussion became heatedly divisive and needed direction, but that job would now be the company’s.

“But I don’t think 2channel will change much. I mean, there’s no need to alter anything about it,” he added with his signature nonchalance.

However, Nishimura also said that if the new management seeks his advice in 2channel’s operations, he would be willing to help. Asked if that meant he was taking on the task of an adviser, he said, “Yeah, I guess you can call it something like that.”

Nishimura’s ambivalence in clarifying his stance caused a stir in the online community when he appeared live on Jan. 12 on an online video hosted by Nico Nico Douga, a popular video-sharing Web site that Nishimura helped develop. There he commented on 2channel’s future policy regarding news threads, prompting many to question whether he was still managing the bulletin board system after his announcement of a handover.

Jiro Makino, a lawyer and expert on Internet law, said it was possible the company in Singapore was outsourcing 2channel’s operations to Japan, maybe even to Nishimura himself, while taking on legal responsibilities. “But whatever the case, I’d have to see the actual contract in order to figure out what really went on,” he said.

Makino added that his office has handled court cases against Nishimura in the past, and that many of the rulings could not be enforced since his people could not determine Nishimura’s true address, something necessary when mailing important documents and carrying forward the judicial process.

“He uses a false address. Last year I actually visited the address in Shinjuku that he was registered under, but the place was abandoned. He’s basically roaming around, itinerant,” Makino said. His office was also unaware where Nishimura kept his assets, he added, probably because the defendant shifted his accounts frequently to avoid seizure.

“The police cannot be called in since these are all civil cases,” he said.

Despite Nishimura’s legal scuffles, he remains a charismatic figure in online communities and the media, although he doesn’t consider himself a celebrity and expresses distaste at the possibility of being treated as one.

“It would be a pain in the ass if I had a lot of fans coming after me,” he said.

Nishimura said he preferred staying home, playing games (he said he gets more of a buzz playing video games than anything else), reading books and watching movies than being in the spotlight. “It’s like I’m retired already. I’m living the life that I imagined when I was a kid,” he said.

Seiji Sugimoto, president of Niwango, Inc., which operates Nico Nico Douga, said Nishimura — a board member of the company — was the innovative force behind the firm who came up with various new ideas to develop its Web content. “I guess you can call Hiroyuki sort of an evangelist,” Sugimoto said.

Evangelist or not, Nishimura acknowledged the somewhat unfavorable image attached to 2channel, but said it helped the BBS carve out a niche for itself.

“Some people like hanging out in Omote-sando, where it’s clean and nice, but some prefer the chaos of Kabukicho,” Nishimura said. “And I don’t think there are that many places (online) that provide that.”

Regarding the issue of online anonymity, Nishimura said that if the current recession continues, he believed an increasing number of people will begin revealing their true identities.

“For people who are on the verge of losing their jobs or who are not part of an organization in the first place, the downsides are equal, real name or not,” Nishimura said, adding that most of 2channel’s criminal threats were posted by those who were unemployed or students.

“I think people who have nothing to lose will begin shedding their anonymity,” he said.

Asked what he plans for the future, Nishimura said he may move overseas in the midterm, if not as early as this year. “Considering the upside and downside of me staying in Japan, I wonder what the point is” in remaining, he said.

Nishimura said he already spent a lot of time last year traveling, both privately and for business, saving up airline frequent flyer mileage so he can “go somewhere that’s cheap.”

“You can work anywhere as long as you can receive e-mails,” he said.

The Japan Times: Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009

AP article proffers cultural reasons for keeping Internet denizens anonymous


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. Here’s an article about a subject I hold a bit dear (as I’ve been a target of Internet libel in the past, including a victorious but unrequited lawsuit): a valuable source of information and even social movement being subverted into a source of bullying and character assassination.

At the heart of it is the denial of a fundamental right granted in developed fora such as courtrooms and (until now) the court of public opinion: the right to know who your accuser is. But by allowing near-absolute online anonymity, it makes the arena for discussion, fight, or whatever you want to call the interaction, unfair — when people become targeted by irresponsible anons who can say what they want with complete impunity. I’ve faced that firsthand these past three months just dealing with the snakepit that is a Wikipedia Talk Page.

In the article below, we’re having justifications for it being dressed up on the guise of “Japanese culture” and increased communication “without worrying about whoever’s talking”. That’s all very well until you’re the one being talked about. That issue is very much underdeveloped in the article about Mixi et al. below, even though it applies to Japan (and to other online societies, such as the one connected to the recent celebrity suicide in Korea) as well. Knock off the silly argument that infers that “Japanese are naturally shy so they need a cloaking device in order to speak freely”. That’s precisely the argument that BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura makes as he self-servingly promotes his own impunity.  Culture being used as a shield here, bollocks.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo, who has never used an online pseudonym to mask his identity in his life, and takes the slings and arrows for it.


THE JAPAN TIMES Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008


Web society opts to stay anonymous

The Associated Press

Like a lot of 20-year-olds, Kae Takahashi has a page on U.S.-based MySpace, and there is no mistaking it for anyone else’s.

News photo
Clash of cultures: In this Web site image, Kae Takahashi shows her picture, bottom left, on her U.S.-based MySpace page where her photos and personal details can be viewed by anyone. But she reveals little about herself on similar Japanese Web sites. AP PHOTO

It’s got pictures of the funky Tokyoite modeling the clothes she designs in her spare time, along with her name, plus personal details and ramblings in slightly awkward English about her love life.

Switch to her site on Mixi, Japan’s dominant online hangout, and her identity vanishes.

There, Takahashi uses a fake name and says she is an 88-year-old from the town of “Christmas.” Her profile is locked to outsiders.

Takahashi is far from alone: The vast majority of Mixi’s roughly 15 million users don’t reveal anything about themselves.

It’s not just Mixi. It’s Japan.

YouTube is wildly successful here, but rare is the user who follows the site’s enticement to “Broadcast Yourself.” Posting pet videos is far more popular, and has bred a generation of animal celebrities.

On large matchmaking sites like, the whole point is to open up and meet strangers. But fewer than half of Match’s paying members in Japan are willing to post their photos, compared with nearly all members in the United States.

Welcome to Japan’s online social scene, where you’re unlikely to meet anyone you don’t know already. The early promises of a new, open social frontier, akin to the identity-centric world of Facebook and MySpace in the U.S., have been replaced by a realm where people stay safely within their circles of friends and few reveal themselves to strangers.

“There is the sense that, ‘My face just isn’t that interesting, or I’m not attractive — there is nothing special about me to show people,’ ” says Tetsuya Shibui, a writer who has long followed the Internet in Japan.

Indeed, the Japanese virtual world has turned out just like the real one.

People rarely give their first names to those they don’t know well. Spontaneous exchanges are uncommon even on the tightly packed trains and streets of Tokyo. TV news shows often blur the faces of those caught in background footage and photos to protect their privacy.

Takahashi, who joined Mixi three years ago, keeps her profile hidden so that only users she specifically invites can see it. That list of online friends has expanded to nearly 300 people, only a few of whom she didn’t first meet in person, but she has removed personal details and scaled down past postings.

“If I say too much, the wrong people will read it — it could get ugly,” she said.

The penchant for invisibility has made it hard for Western social networks to establish themselves. Belated forays into the Japanese market by Facebook Inc. and News Corp.’s MySpace, for instance, have failed to generate much of a buzz.

Google Inc., which operates YouTube, has tried to convince the Japanese to loosen up, running events in Tokyo in which girls in miniskirts roam the streets with giant picture frames and video cameras, soliciting pedestrians to frame themselves and record a clip for the site.

But it has since eased back on such efforts. YouTube’s latest campaign involves people uploading pictures of their pets.

“We can’t change the mind-set of Japanese people,” said Tomoe Makino, in charge of partner development at YouTube’s Japan site. “It’s the uniqueness of Japanese culture — anonymous works in Japan.”

It wasn’t always like that. When Mixi was launched in early 2004, many people registered with their own names and photos.

“It was all friends, or friends of friends, so you could easily search using real names, and it was easy to be found,” Shibui says.

But Mixi quickly grew in popularity, and was heavily featured in the media as it sped toward a public stock offering in 2006. New members can join only with invitations from existing users, but some people began to send out invites randomly. The circle-of-friends concept was broken, and existing users began to lock their profiles and withdraw behind anonymous user names.

Naoko Ito is a typical denizen of Japan’s online scene.

The office worker’s video clips of her cats running amok at her house are among the most popular on YouTube Japan. Her blog features daily pictures of the feline antics and is popular enough to have spawned a book deal. But she doesn’t post her name and in five years of uploading images has only rarely shown her face.

She says Japanese are just not used to putting themselves in the spotlight, and in the rare cases she has uploaded her picture it has been to show she is like everyone else.

“I want people to feel that I’m a very normal person, nothing special, just someone who likes cats,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The reluctance to reveal oneself online is coupled with a general distrust of those who do, and foreign sites like have had to adjust. The site has had a local office since 2004, and has added Japan-only features like identity certification to generate an atmosphere of trust.

“When we did research on Japanese consumers, we found that the No. 1 reason for not using online dating is that they don’t know if people are real or not,” says’s Japan president, Katsu Kuwano.

Match has increased its paying users in Japan by tailoring its approach to better fit marriage-minded women, timing advertising campaigns with national holidays when they travel home and face pressure from parents to find a mate.

But Kuwano says even among the women hunting for a spouse on the site, only 40 percent are willing to post a picture of themselves, and men are far less likely to respond without getting a glimpse first.

The company hopes to make more people show themselves online by defining itself in a less Web-centric way, latching onto the broader “konkatsu” movement, in which people actively seek out marriage partners. Match has also held offline events at Tokyo restaurants.

Even if the Japanese Internet isn’t a place to meet new people, the fixation with anonymity still has led to an explosion in self-expression — a sea change in a culture where strong opinions are usually kept to oneself.

Anonymous bulletin boards like the massive 2channel are highly popular, with active forums popping up to discuss news events just minutes after they occur.

As is true elsewhere in the world, Japan’s online anonymity can bring out the uglier side of human nature, but observers like the writer Shibui find that it is also freeing people to speak their minds.

“In using the Internet to anonymously talk about their troubles, or show off their strong points, or make people laugh, people in Japan can now interact based on what is actually being said, without worrying about who is talking,” he said.


2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses


 Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hello Blog.  Yet another interview with BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura, where he claims that what goes on at 2-Channel is not his responsibility.

Love the section below where he says, “Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.”  That’s a lie.  He’s had a court order since January 2006 to delete the posts on me judged by a court to be libelous.  More than two and a half years later, they’re still there…!  And with copy-pastes the number just keeps rising.

I don’t think this guy realizes that sooner or later, there’s going to be legislation passed that will ultimately deprive the Internet of the privacy he allows his BBS to so wantonly abuse.  More on 2ch on my blog here.  Debito in San Francisco

2channel founder says don't blame him for criminals' posts    

Hiroyuki Nishimura

2channel founder says don’t blame him for criminals’ posts

Courtesy Japan Today, undated, but downloaded August 27, 2008

Over the past few years 2 Channel (2ch) has become the largest online forum in Japan, registering up to 200 million hits a day. Launched by college student Hiroyuki Nishimura in 1999, the site is often at the center of controversy and was criticized in June after it was used by the suspect in the Akihabara stabbing rampage to announce his plans.

Freelance journalist Tetsuya Shibui interviews Nishimura for Shukan Post.

The suspect in the Akihabara rampage has told police he killed people because his messages were ignored on 2ch. 

That case has nothing to do with us. I don’t believe he killed people just because he was ignored online. He says he doesn’t have friends. But it’s not surprising people like him don’t have friends. But that alone cannot be a reason for murder. It’s too simple to think the Internet causes such crimes.

Many crime announcements have been made on 2ch since the Akihabara case. Do you have any plans to change the site?

Not at all. 2Ch has clear rules of use that allow people to request deletion of messages and a system to report inappropriate messages.

Don’t you think it’s irresponsible for you to make your users take all the responsibility?

I don’t think so. I always cooperate with police when I think some messages clearly indicate a crime may be involved and when police request disclosure of posters’ information such as IP addresses, we oblige.

2ch also carries information on how to commit crimes, does it not?

No, no, no. Many people misunderstand 2ch. It has links to other websites which might contain information like how to make a bomb, but that’s a matter for other websites to address, not 2ch.

However, 2ch recently carried detailed information on the spate of hydrogen sulfide gas suicides. 

Yes, 2ch did carry that kind of information. But that’s copy and paste information copied from other websites. It’s the mainstream media which is spreading information that 2ch has that kind of information. Those who were not interested in such information have suddenly become interested in 2ch through newspaper coverage. Why don’t those media criticize themselves?

Are you saying you have no responsibility because other websites have the same information.

Well, let me ask you a question. Is there any evidence that the Internet has led to an increase in crimes? I’ve never seen any such evidence. The Internet is just a tool and all tools have side effects. Look at cars. Do you blame car makers when accidents are caused by speeding? I have my own logic to justify what I’m doing. People can submit information freely on the Internet. Anti-Internet people are just afraid of the unknown potential of the Internet which has a short history.

Perhaps, one reason for the fear is not the “unknown,” as you cal it, but the anonymity of the information. Why don’t make your users post messages using their real names?

I disagree. Even Social Network Services which have greater transparency have trouble and contain inappropriate information. It totally depends on users when dealing with inappropriate information. Those who cannot make judgments by themselves or don’t like 2ch should not use it.

What do you think about the information filter for minors

I support information filtering measures for kids because they are not capable of making proper judgments on information they get from the Internet. If I had a kid, I would give him/her a mobile phone without an Internet connection function. I think the issue has to be debated nationwide.

You’ve been ignoring lawsuits against you for defamation for years, and you don’t pay compensation that courts have ordered you to make.

Yes, that’s correct. I’ve received more than 100 lawsuits so far. It’s time consuming, but recently, I’ve been working on about 30 legal cases. I’m seeing how it goes. The reason why I don’t pay compensation is that I think I am not responsible for what others post. If I were posting death threats or whatever, then I must pay. But I’m just a manager of 2ch. I don’t feel guilty at all.

Why don’t you make a system to check inappropriate messages?

It’s difficult even for legal professionals to distinguish between legal and illegal content. If we were to delete messages, 2ch would cease to be a forum where people can freely post. Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.

Have you ever thought of closing 2ch?

Never. That’s because we currently monopolize this sort of business in Japan.

Your income is reported to be around 100 million yen acquired from online ads and book sales.

Yes, that’s about right.

What do your parents think of your business and all the flak?

My father is an ex-tax officer. But we have never talked about our businesses to each other. When I go home sometimes, he just says to me: “Go ahead with what you’re doing.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

First Waiwai, now Japan Times’ Tokyo Confidential now in Internet “Japan Image Police” sights


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Writing you from California, arrived safely.  Here we have an article talking about how the sights are turning from the Mainichi Waiwai to the Japan Times “Tokyo Confidential” column–in the same spirit of making sure outsiders don’t “misunderstand” Japan (by reading potentially negative stuff already found in the domestic press).  The Japanese language is only supposed to be for domestic consumption, after all, right?  How dare non-natives translate the secret code?  Anyway, it’s one more good reason why you don’t deal with anonymous Internet bullies–giving in to them only makes them stronger–and more hypocritical given press freedom and the freedom of speech they wallow in.  Let’s hope the Japan Times has the guts to stand up to them.  Arudou Debito in the Bay Area


ジャパンタイムズの性的記事配信 「海外に誤解与える」と批判出る

7月31日19時5分配信 J-CASTニュース

ジャパンタイムズの性的記事配信 「海外に誤解与える」と批判出る  




■「主婦のセックス もっと金を稼ぐために」




 このサイトは、「TOKYO CONFIDENTIAL」。毎週日曜日に、週刊誌から性に限らず様々なストーリーを3本ほど紹介している。週刊朝日の記事は、ジャパンタイムズの米国人記者が書いた02年6月2日付サイト記事で紹介された。「主婦のセックス もっと金を稼ぐために、もっと無貞操になるために」と刺激的なタイトルが付けられている。

 サイトには、この記事のほかに、性的に特異な行動を紹介する多数の記事がストックされている。例えば、06年5月14日付記事では、週刊プレイボーイから引用し、田舎の子どもたちは楽しみごとが少ないため、飲酒やセックスに耽るという医師の話を紹介。また、07年8月5日の記事では、日本人女性100人が少なくとも1回は即エッチを認める主義になったと告白したというSPA!の記事を報じている。タイトルは、それぞれ「田舎のセックス暴走に踏み殺される少女」「即エッチ 性ホルモンが論理を凌駕するとき」とかなり刺激的だ。







 ちなみに、サイトの米国人記者は、毎日の紙媒体(当時)「WaiWai」で記事を書いた後、ジャパンタイムズに移籍していた。処分を受けた毎日のライアン・コネル記者とは、「Tabloid Tokyo」の共著者に名を連ねている。





The Sydney Morning Herald on death of Mainichi Waiwai column


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog. One more article on how the Internet has turned nasty:

The campaign by anonymous posters to get rid of the English translation service of Japan’s weekly magazines, the Mainichi Shinbun Waiwai column, has been effective. Instead of standing up to anonymous hotheads making death threats, and ironically suppressing the free speech they hold so sacrosanct, they talk about Japan’s image being besmirched internationally (when the information comes from Japanese sources in the first place). By suppressing this media outlet, all they are achieving is keeping the debate domestic and covering up the issues the Weeklies are bringing to the fore. However disgusting the topics the Weeklies can bring up are, the contents are the Weeklies’ responsibility, not the Mainichi’s and not editor Ryann Connell’s. Attack the Weeklies for their contents, not the people who merely translate them.

I find this form of bullying disgusting, and the Mainichi’s caving in appallingly irresponsible. When are people going to learn that Internet bullying is not a fair fight, and ignore people who won’t make themselves public in the media and open themselves up to the same scrutiny they demand other media? You have the right to know your accuser. Those who won’t reveal their identity should be justly ignored themselves.

Here’s an article from The Sydney Morning Herald. Further links and a letter to the Mainichi follows it. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan rails at Australian’s tabloid trash
Justin Norrie, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 5, 2008

NOT SO long ago Ryann Connell, an Australian journalist, happily declared he was doing his “dream job” in Japan.

Since accepting police protection against incensed Japanese patriots last week, the chief editor of the English website of The Mainichi Daily News has been more circumspect.

In the past month the 39-year-old has become one of the most reviled figures in Japan, where thousands of posters have flooded chat sites to decry the “sleazy Australian journalist” whom they feel has deliberately besmirched Japan’s image around the world.

Connell’s troubles began in May with one of his now infamous WaiWai columns, which cited a Japanese magazine article about a restaurant in the Tokyo district of Roppongi where patrons allegedly have sex with animals before eating them. The piece caught the attention of a blogger called Mozu, whose angry post was soon picked up by 2channel, a massive, fractious web forum popular with Japan’s hot-headed conservative element.

There it triggered an explosion of bile and culminated in a co-ordinated attack on Connell, his family, The Mainichi and its sponsors, some of which have pulled advertising estimated to be worth more than 20 million yen ($195,000).

The Mainichi, whose Japanese-language newspaper has the fourth-highest circulation in the world, has issued a remarkable 1277-word explanation and apology. It has also terminated the column, reprimanded several staff and put Connell on three months’ “disciplinary leave”.

When contacted this week, Connell said he was unable to comment on “any aspect of the case”. But the Herald understands he has received several death threats and is under strict police instructions to stay inside his suburban Tokyo home until the matter dies down.

Since he began contributing to the newspaper in 1998, Connell has trawled Japan’s smut-filled weekly magazines to bring mostly unsourced tales of the utterly shocking and often improbable to the English-speaking world.

Many previous WaiWai instalments – such as the story about mothers who pleasure their sons to stop them from chasing girls at the expense of schoolwork, the article about chikan (men who grope women on trains) holding monthly meetings to trade tips about the best ways to surreptitiously manhandle fellow passengers, and the account of emotionally stunted salarymen who use lifelike mannequins as surrogate wives – have entered world folklore.

“Campus Confidential: Co-eds Collect Currency Conducting Extra-curricular Coitus” began one of Connell’s recent columns, all of which are transcribed from Japanese before being rendered – with creative licence and brain-melting alliteration – in the style of the raciest British tabloid stories.

It is their popularity with some Western readers that has especially incensed Japanese bloggers. Many feel their country’s reputation has been “debauched” around the world. “Foreigners who don’t know the truth will believe these stories are true,” wrote one. Another railed: “Ryann Connell is a degenerate scatologist – a typical Australian.” And a third wondered: “Why doesn’t someone drop a hydrogen atom bomb on Australia?”

In an interview with the Herald late last year Connell admitted his transcriptions might have contributed in part to a lazy notion that if Japanese are not totally inhibited by their strict social codes, they are hopelessly debased by their bizarre fetishes.

“It does concern me that we resort to these stereotypes all the time,” he said. “Downtrodden salarymen, slutty schoolgirls, crazy housewives, corrupt old bosses and so on. And there have been times when I picked stories of questionable accuracy to write up. But by and large I’m presenting to the English-speaking world things that the Japanese are writing about themselves.”


Defending the weeklies, as well as Connell and his collaborators, is the unflagging media critic and campaigner for human rights Debito Arudou, who wrote that WaiWai was an essential guide to Japanese attitudes and editorial directives. “Too many Japanese believe that they can say whatever they like in Japanese (‘that statement was for a domestic audience’ is very often an excuse for public gaffes), as though Japanese is some secret code,” he wrote.


To the editors of the Mainichi Shinbun:
Please don’t end the Waiwai column.

The claim on your website ( that this corner “attracted criticism for such things as being too vulgar and debauching Japan by sending around the world information that could be misunderstood” is sophistry, merely an attempt by people who would rather Japan’s Weekly Magazines not reach reach a wider audience.

As you know from your experience as a translator of these articles, they offer a very important window into the lowbrow and the undercurrents of Japanese society. Closing it is worse than simple prudery–it is an aggressive act of censorship by people who want the outside world to think of Japan as a place of cherry blossoms and chrysanthemums. It’s a dishonest view of any society to only focus on the “nice”.

Please reconsider. Edit for content if you must. But remain accurate and faithful to the original (as you no doubt usually have), and don’t give in to these reactionaries. The tabloid press is every bit as important as any other press in Japan.


Thanks for your consideration.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
June 24, 2008


Further discussion of this issue on Japan Probe:

Announcement of end of Waiwai column.

Mainichi “posed to severely punish” employees.

Mainichi Shinbun announces “lack of a woman’s point of view”, appoints woman editor, switches to “news-oriented site”.

Wired Magazine on 2-Channel’s Nishimura Hiroyuki


Hi Blog. Here’s an excellent article on the Japanese internet, particularly 2-Channel and Nico Nico Douga. But as far as the Blog is concerned, here is the pertinent section to excerpt:
Meet Hiroyuki Nishimura, the Bad Boy of the Japanese Internet
By Lisa Katayama 05.19.08
Courtesy of the Author, Gene van Troyer, and Tim Hornyak
…His online fans may adore him, but 2channel is becoming increasingly controversial. There have been stalking incidents and suicide pacts supposedly planned through the site. (Nico Nico Douga is more supervised: Users must log in, there’s a six-page agreement, and Dwango responds to takedown notices.) Nishimura’s nonchalant response to complaints and libel suits probably doesn’t help. “I used to show up in court,” he says. “Then one day I overslept, and nothing happened. So I stopped going.”

Nishimura has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying. “If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,” he says. “I just haven’t complied with demands to pay money. Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?”

Japan is just now having the debate about free speech online that roiled America a decade ago, but it seems to be reaching different conclusions. A government panel recently proposed to start regulating “influential widely read news-related sites in the same way that newspapers and broadcasting are regulated.” Many believe this move was triggered by outrage over 2channel.
Nishimura giggles at the prospect of a government crackdown. “Our lawmakers aren’t that dumb,” he says. “Besides, 2channel’s servers are in San Francisco.”…


COMMENT: I was one of the 50 lawsuiters mentioned above, winning against Nishimura on a charge of libel in Iwamizawa District Court in January 2006.

While the article focusses on quirky iconoclasm (Nishimura’s success despite being an indecorous “slacker”, especially in Japan), two things must be mentioned:

One is the fact that Nishimura is once again lying. Do a Google Search for “2ch”, アルドウィンクル (my former last name in katakana, which is how I was rendered in the problematic copy-pasted text), and イラク (the topic which I was alleged to have commented about), page down to the bottom to click and see duplicate results, and you’ll see that you get 1130 hits (as of May 23, 2008).アルドウィンクル+イラク&num=100&hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&rls=en&filter=0
This is a larger number than ever before, and you’ll see that most of the web addresses are “2ch” for 2-Channel. More than two years after the verdict was handed down, mandating that things be deleted, they clearly still haven’t. Sorry, folks, the slacker is a liar.

Not to mention a deadbeat. Like it or not, iconoclast or not, internet hero or pioneer or whatever, Nishimura must abide by this country’s laws (and their judicial interpretations). He has been ordered fifty times to pay damages (he is the sole public owner of the media, and a telephone call between two individuals is not the same kind of media in public scope or impact). He won’t. Simply taking advantage of the Japanese judiciary’s inability to convert civil suits into criminal ones through Contempt of Court does not further justify or lionize this person’s negligence. In the end, it’ll be easier to pass laws to hinder freedom of internet speech, the lynchpin of Nishimura’s existence, than to reform the judiciary–and that is precisely what looks to happen.

“Our lawmakers aren’t that dumb,” he might claim. Oh yes they are. And at the end of the day when the damage is done, the question will remain, “How could Nishimura have been that dumb?”

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

See full information on my unrequited libel lawsuit win against Nishimura and 2-Channel, January 2006, here.

IHT: GOJ to “govern influential, widely read news-related websites”. Like 2-Channel


Hi Blog. Here’s another development in the pipeline: the regulation of Internet speech, to stop “illegal and harmful content”. Libel, sure. But you know it’s just not going to stop there.

I have very mixed feelings about this issue. I am of course an advocate of freedom of speech. But I have also been the target of Internet libel myself, confirmed by a Japanese court victory more than two years ago, and never requited by the Defendant BBS 2-Channel. By exploiting the lack of Contempt of Court in this society (i.e. the means to change a Civil Case into a Criminal Case, including arrest and confiscation, if court verdicts are not followed), fools like the people who run 2-Channel will wind up empowering those who wish to justify these sorts of policy pushes to regulate freedom of expression.

And once it starts, it’s only a matter of time and degree. Wait and see. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan seeking to govern top news Web sites
By Michael Fitzpatrick
International Herald Tribune Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Courtesy Jeff Korpa

TOKYO: A Japanese government panel is proposing to govern “influential, widely read news-related sites as newspapers and broadcasting are now regulated.”

The government is also seeking to rein in some of the more unsavory aspects of the Internet, leaving in its wake, critics say, the censoring hand of government interference.

The panel, set up by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, said Internet service providers (ISPs) should be answerable for breaches of vaguer “minimum regulations” to guard against “illegal and harmful content.”

The conservative government, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP, is seeking to have the new laws passed by Parliament in 2010.

“Japan’s Internet is increasing its clout, so naturally the government wants to control it,” said Kazuo Hizumi, a former journalist who is the Tokyo city lawyer.

To better understand why a country better known for its information-technology prowess would take such steps, it is vital to understand the establishment’s relationship with the media since the Americans ceded wartime power in the 1950s, Hizumi said.

“Soon after the war we followed the U.S. model with the government issuing licenses through the FCC,” Hizumi said. “As one party, the LDP, came to dominate politics, it sought more control of the media so the FCC was abolished. There is no ombudsman here, so the government controls the media directly. With this new bill, the LDP will seek to do the same for the Internet.”

Certainly, such a construct has benefited the LDP, which has enjoyed nearly unbroken rule in Japan since 1955. Since then, government’s cozy relationship with big media has become legendary, as has the media’s self-censorship, which, Hizumi said, had repeatedly restricted the spectrum of voices heard – until the arrival of the Internet started to open the field up to dissent.

“The Internet threatens the government, but the new law will put the government back in control by making the ISPs directly answerable to the government,” Hizumi said. “This is the untenable position we are facing in Japan.”

Tokyo, for its part, maintains it is merely seeking to bring some accountability to Japan’s often wild – and sometimes libelous – Internet.

“The criticism that the report amounts to a call for censoring the Japanese Web” is completely unfounded, the Communications Ministry said in a statement. “Furthermore, the report takes the position that Japan should abstain from adopting regulations aimed at promoting government censorship or restriction of Internet content, such as blogs, and calls for examining the creation of a framework for promoting voluntary action by ISP and others as a means of dealing with illegal and harmful material.”

Such “voluntary action” has already been felt this month by the country’s mobile-services providers, who have been requested to filter certain content to all phones registered to people under 18. Previously such filtering had to be switched on; now it will take a guardian to switch it off.

A commendable effort by government and service providers, any right-thinking citizen might think, to protect the young. However, Japanese bloggers, wary of future controls on the larger Internet, have been busy pointing to the less obvious material that is also being filtered out on the mobile Internet.

The existing filtering services in use by the leading Japanese provider, DoCoMo, for example, reveals that categories like “religion” and “political activity/party” are filtered by the software.

“We have also perhaps a taste with what’s to come by looking at the filtering software used by certain local governments up and down the country,” Hizumi said.

What really strikes Hizumi and others is that there is so little public opposition or debate on a bill that would bring enormous change.

Chris Salzberg, who monitors, comments on and translates some of the Japanese blogosphere for Global Voices, an international blog round-up, said: “It seems that the Web community in Japan is really pretty unaware of all of this, or else just in disbelief. It’s a strange situation. Maybe nothing will come of it, but it still seems like something people should at least be paying attention to.”

“I’m afraid ordinary citizens don’t care about these lack of rights, consequently the Internet in Japan is heading for the Dark Ages,” Hizumi said.

Gyaku on upcoming GOJ regulations of the Internet: Online content, keitai, and file sharing


Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s kick off the new year with a post on our future as bloggers here: Internet info site Gyaku on Japan’s future regulation of the Internet.

My minor comment at this point is that I have mixed feelings about regulation–in that I know from personal experience there is no mechanism in place for regulating libel. I won a case in court exactly two years ago against the world’s largest BBS system, 2-Channel, for libel and defamation (where an anonymous poster said things I never said about the Iraq War etc.–see information site here). 2-Channel not only refused to either delete the comments or reveal the IP of the anonymous poster(s), but also administrators refused to answer any correspondence, appear in court, or pay court-ordered damages. Despite the same thing happening to dozens of other plaintiffs, all resulting in defeat for 2-Channel, there have been no arrests, and no progress whatsoever; you can still Google the libelous comments against me today and get more than 800 hits. Clearly something has to be done about this.

There are, of course, two issues which call for reform. One is a business registry issue–where there is no way to seize the assets of anonymous Internet “media sources” (the normal way of regulating the media when they say things that are untrue and damaging). The other is a Japanese judiciary issue–there is no Contempt of Court in Japan (which would change a Civil Suit into a Criminal Suit and cause 2-Channel administrators to be arrestable). But once you get the ball rolling on this issue, you never know what’s going to happen, when the actions of the GOJ are done in such secrecy and (ironically) with insufficient media scrutiny. And moderate reforms have a habit of becoming major–as the letter of the law is often left vague, and once enacted the GOJ appends “bureaucratic directives” to give enforcers more powers after the fact. 2-Channel, you’ve brought things like this upon all of us. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Regulating the Japanese cyberspace, one step at a time
Thursday, December 27, 2007
by shioyama
Courtesy DJD and JBB

With little fanfare from local or foreign media, the Japanese government made major moves this month toward legislating extensive regulation over online communication and information exchange within its national borders. In a series of little-publicized meetings attracting minimal mainstream coverage, two distinct government ministries, that of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and that of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho), pushed ahead with regulation in three major areas of online communication: web content, mobile phone access, and file sharing.

On December 6th, in a final report compiled by a study group under the Somusho following up on an interim report drafted earlier this year, the government set down plans to regulate online content through unification of existing laws such as the Broadcast Law and the Telecommunications Business Law [1,2]. The planned regulation targets all web content, including online variants of traditional media such as newspaper articles and television broadcasting, while additionally going as far as to cover user-generated content such as blogs and webpages under the vaguely-defined category of “open communication” [3,4,5,6].

Only days following the release of the Dec. 6 report, again through the Somusho, the government on Dec. 10th requested that mobile phone companies NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank and Willcom commence strictly filtering web content to mobile phones for users under the age of 18 [7,8,9,10]. The move to filter content in this area comes at a time when the Japanese market has become saturated with mobile phones, a growing proportion of which are held by high-school and even grade-school students. The proposed policy, in part responding to fears and anxieties expressed by parents about online dating sites, is broad in scope and reportedly covers all websites with forum, chat, and social networking functionality.

Regulation of a third area of online communication, that of online file sharing, was meanwhile advanced through the Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (under the Mobukagakusho) in a meeting held on December 18th. Authorities and organizations pushed in this case for a ban on the download of copyrighted content for personal use, a category of file transfer previously permitted under Article 30 of Japan’s Copyright Law [11,12,13,14].

The final report on Internet regulation released on December 6th, and the meetings about mobile phone regulation and copyright policy held on December 10th and 18th, collectively touch on nearly every aspect of modern network communication in Japan and together indicate a significant shift in government policy vis-a-vis the Japanese cyberspace. While granted little attention in mainstream media, a series of Japanese-language articles, government reports, and blog entries on the topic together sketch basic details of the proposed regulations. The main points of these documents are summarized below, with references to resources offering more in-depth discussion included at the end of the article.

Step 1: Web content

Plans for regulation of web content are summarized in two primary documents drawn up by the “Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting” under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and headed by Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University Horibe Masao. The first document is an interim report released on June 19th, setting down basic guidelines for regulating web content through application of the existing Broadcast Law to the sphere of the Internet [1,4]. Incorporating the views of a reported 276 comments from 222 individuals and 56 organizations collected shortly after publication of the interim report, the final report, made public on December 6th, sets down steps to move ahead and submit a bill on the proposed regulations to the regular diet session in 2010 [2,5,6].

One of the key points of both reports is their emphasis on the blurring line between “information transmission” and “broadcasting”, a distinction that becomes less and less meaningful as content-transfer shifts from the realm of traditional media to that of ubiquitous digital communication (so-called “all over IP”). The reports deal with this difficult problem in part through the creation of a new category, that of “open communication”, broadly described as covering “communication content having openness [kouzensei/公然性] such as homepages and so on” [3].

The term “open communication” may itself be vaguely defined, but implications of the new category are in fact very real. While previously largely excluded from government regulation thanks to the limited scope of existing broadcast legislation, all online content, with the exception only of private messages used only between specific persons (i.e. email, etc.), will henceforth be targeted under the proposed policy. Notably included in this category are hugely popular bulletin board systems such as 2channel as well as personal blogs and webpages.

Online content judged to be “harmful” according to standards set down by an independent body (specifics of which are unclear) will be subject to law-enforced removal and/or correction. While the interim report did not specify whether penal regulations would be enforced against policy violations, the final report, in response to concerns voiced in public comments over the summer, moved toward excluding such regulations for the time being at least. Nonetheless, the final report also notes that, if there is a need for it, the “adequacy of punishment should also be investigated” (page 22 of the final report) [5]. It thus remains an open question as to whether, if eventually enacted, penal regulations will be applied and, if so, what form they will take.

Step 2: Mobile phone access

As the number of elementary and high-school students with mobile phones in Japan has ballooned to over 7.5 million, the push for protecting young users from potentially dangerous content, such as online dating services and so-called “mobile filth”, has gained momentum in recent years within Japan. The government responded to such concerns on December 10th by demanding that mobile carriers NTT Docomo, KDDI, Softbank, and Willcom implement filtering on all mobile phones issued to users under the age of 18. While optional filtering currently exists and can be implemented at the request of the mobile phone owner, few users make use of or even know of this service. The proposed regulation would heavily strengthen earlier policy by making filtering on mobile phones the default setting for minors; only in the case of an explicit request by the user’s parent or guardian could such filtering be turned off by the carrier [7,8,9].

According to the new policy proposal, sites would be categorized on two lists, a “blacklist” of sites that would be blocked from mobile access by minors and a “whitelist” of sites that would not. The categorization of sites into each list will reportedly be carried out together with carriers through investigations involving each company targeted. The Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA) of Japan is indicating that the new policy will be enforced with respect to new users by the end of 2007 and applied to existing users by the summer of 2008 [8].

While it is not yet entirely clear what content will be covered by the new policy, a look at existing filtering services promoted by NTT Docomo reveals the definition of “harmful” content to be very broad indeed. As noted by a number of Japanese bloggers, notably social activist Sakiyama Nobuo, current optional filtering services offered on NTT Docomo phones include categories as sweeping as “lifestyles” (gay, lesbian, etc.), “religion”, and “political activity/party”, as well as a category termed “communication” covering web forums, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and social networking services. The breadth of this last category in particular threatens to bankrupt youth-oriented services such as “Mobage”, a social networking and gaming site for mobile phones, half of whose users are under the age of 18.

Step 3: File sharing

While the cases of Internet regulation and mobile phone filtering primarily revolve on concerns over content, the third government policy proposal advanced this month in the domain of online communication targets the area of content transfer. On December 18th, the Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, an advisory body under the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (Monbukagakusho), held a meeting to re-examine Article 30 of Japan’s Copyright Law. With respect to online file transfer, the existing law currently bans uploading of copyrighted material onto public websites, while permitting copies for personal use only [12,13,14].

At the December 18th meeting, Kawase Makoto, general manager of the agency’s Copyrighted Work Circulation Promotion Department, remarked that revising article 30 was “inevitable” [11]. Kawase’s comment came less than a month after the same agency received more than 7500 public comments on the topic of the plans, the majority of which reportedly opposed any change to the current Copyright Law [15,16,17]. Haeno Hidetoshi , senior director of the Recording Industry Association of Japan, meanwhile described the state of the recording industry as “spine-chilling”, arguing that if illegal file sharing was not stopped the business would hit a dead end [12].

IT and music journalist Tsuda Daisuke on the other hand argued that he did not see any need for legal revision, observing that if users uploading copyrighted files are controlled, then there should be no need to outlaw illegal downloads or file sharing. In an earlier Nov. 28th meeting, addressing the divide in opions among public comments about the regulation, Tsuda noted that results evidenced a “deep gap” between the views of copyright holders and those of consumers. He further warned that to ignore the views of those opposing revision, and to not attempt to understand their arguments, would be to invite further deepening of this gap [16,17].

One of the key issues raised by opponents of the proposed revisions regards the murky definition of “download” itself. Critics argue that a user cannot determine whether a file is illegal before they actually download it, and even once the file is downloaded, such identification remains difficult. Moreover, it is difficult for users to judge whether, at the time of downloading a file, the site from which the file was downloaded was itself illegal or not. While proponents of the legal revision have argued in favour of a “mark” to identify approved sites, this approach brings with it many new problems; most critically, it would mean that every site not bearing the approved mark would be considered “illegal”, a blanket policy many consider extreme [17].

The murkiness of the definition of “illegal” file sharing also manifests itself in the difficulties legislators will potentially face in distinguishing between “downloading” and “streaming”, difficulties which some argue may ultimately lead to the regulation of sites such as YouTube and Nico Nico Douga. As there is no fundamental difference between downloaded content and streamed content, given that in both cases content is copied locally before viewing, commenters expressed anxiety about how judges with no specialized knowledge will handle this murky middle ground.

The future of “open”

The various problems evident in the regulation policies described above are compacted by the fact that there is a lack of coordination between branches of government, the first two proposals being handled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications while the last is being handled by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Without a coordinated approach to regulation, legal conflicts inherent in the switch to “all over IP” are guaranteed to arise.

Even with such a coordinated approach, however, policy remains ill-defined and extremely vague. The future of online communication within Japan hinges on attracting attention to these issues and on drawing as wide a range of voices into the debate as possible. While current activism by groups within Japan such as the recently formed Movements for Internet Active Users (MIAU) have made important first steps in this direction, international attention is needed to coordinate support and confront the many pressing issues facing open communication in the Japanese cyberspace.


1. “Interim report of the Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting” (通信・放送の総合的な法体系に関する研究会 中間取りまとめ), June 19, 2007. link.
2. “Final report of the Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting” (通信・放送の総合的な法体系に関する研究会 報告書), December 6, 2007. link.
3. “Blogs and 2channel also subject to Telecommunications Law (tentative title)” (ブログ、2chも対象にする「情報通信法」(仮)とは), atmarkIT, June 20, 2007. link
4. “Internet regulation up for debate, but nobody is debating,” Global Voices Online, June 12, 2007. link
5. “Final Report on Internet Regulation,” Global Voices Online, December 16, 2007. link
6. “Japan to take steps to regulate the Internet,” Mainichi shimbun, December 6, 2007. link
7. “Request to mobile phone carriers regarding the introduction of services for restricting access to harmful sites from mobile phones and personal headsets used by young people” (filtering service) (青少年が使用する携帯電話・PHSにおける有害サイトアクセス制限サービス(フィルタリングサービス)の導入促進に関する携帯電話事業者等への要請), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, December 10, 2007. link
8. “Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications to make use of filtering function on mobile phones and personal headsets in general mandatory for youth” (総務省、青少年の携帯・PHS利用でフィルタリング機能を原則義務化), December 10th, 2007. link
9. “Protect kids from crime: Mobile phone filtering, strengthening countermeasures for children” (子どもを犯罪から守れ – 携帯サイトのフィルタリング、子ども向け対策強化), MyCom Journal, December 12, 2007. link
10. “New cell phone rules eyed to protect kids,” Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2007. link
11. “Head of the Copyrighted Work Circulation Promotion Department of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology indicates view that outlawing of illegal downloads is ‘unavoidable'” (ダウンロード違法化は「やむを得ない」、文化庁著作権課が見解示す), Internet Watch, December 18, 2007. link
12. Takeyoshi Yamada, “Final Blow to File Sharing? Japan’s Gov’t to Revise Copyright Law,” TechOn, December 19, 2007. link
13. “Economics of the ‘Illegal’ Download,” Global Voices Online, December 23, 2007. link
14. “Japanese Panel Pushes Ban on Illegal Downloads Forward,” Anime News Network, December 20, 2007. link
15. “The why of the ‘outlawing of downloads’ despite a great number of opposing views” (反対意見多数でも「ダウンロード違法化」のなぜ), IT Media, December 18, 2007. link
16. “7500 comments collected regarding illegal download legislation, Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee” (ダウンロード違法化などに7,500件の意見集まる、私的録音録画小委員会), November 28, 2007. link
17. “Opposing views against ‘outlawing illegal downloads’, but … the gap between ‘copyright holders’ and ‘users'” (「ダウンロード違法化」に反対意見集まるが…… 埋まらぬ「権利者」vs.「ユーザー」の溝), IT Media, November 28, 2007. link

Article title translations by gyaku.

Global Voices Online on Japan’s proposed regulation of the Internet


Hi Blog. Just got this yesterday from Chris Salzberg, from Global Voices Online blog:

Japan: Internet regulation up for debate, but nobody is debating
Thursday, July 12th, 2007 @ 00:59 UTC
by Hanako Tokita

While nobody was watching, an interim report drafted by a study group under the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has set down guidelines for regulation of the Internet in Japan which, according to one blogger, would extend as far as personal blogs and homepages. In the report, this “Study group on the legal system for communications and broadcasting”, headed by Professor Emeritus at Hitotsubashi University Horibe Masao, discusses the possibility of applying the exising Broadcast Law to the sphere of the Internet to regulate, under government enforcement, what gets on the web. The report also suggests that public comments be sought on the issue, in response to which the ministry has opened a space on their webpage for the public to submit comments, available in the period between June 20th and July 20th.

Despite the obvious significance of the proposed regulation, neither media nor the majority of bloggers are aware of its existence. The most detailed coverage of the issue has been provided by tokyodo-2005, a former journalist, now a lawyer and prolific blogger on media related issues, who has (at time of writing this) already posted seven entries on the topic. In these blog entries, he warns that this legislation would be applied not only to general websites but also to personal blogs and home pages. The report advises, he cites, that contents found illegal based on the significance of their activity (表現活動の価値) would be outside the scope of protections on freedom of expression as specified in the Japanese Constitution; therefore, it is claimed, there would be no constitutional issue with regulating such content….

Excerpt ends. I don’t want to produce Hanako’s whole post, so go to to see all the links and source documents.

I wonder if this is related in some way to the whole 2-Channel debacle, and how they’ve been losing in court for libel for years now and getting away with it. So now the regulations come in. Let’s hope the even keel holds, especially in a “Nanny State” like Japan’s. The Few Bad Apples Syndrome strikes again…

Send your comments to the government. There’s still some time. Debito in Sapporo



ブロク読者の皆様、こんにちは。10日間渡米して、ケネディ空港から便りを送っていますが、大分前私の弁護士から2ちゃんねるBBSの勝訴についてのアップデートです。勝訴後1年半以上となり、日本の司法府は自分の民事訴訟の判決を執行できないことは非常に明白になりましたね。有道 出人

Hi Blog. This is a letter from my lawyer Mr Shibaike, with the latest motions filed against 2-Channel BBS for unrequited damages awarded for libel. More on that case archived here. Writing from JFK Airport in NYC, no real time to translate. Point is, more than a year and a half after winning a judgment for libel against Administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki, the inability of the Japanese judiciary to enforce its own civil law judgments remains glaringly clear. And it’s not just me, remember–primer here. Arudou Debito in transit.

May 2, 2007 10:57:28 AM JST







弁 護 士 芝 池 俊 輝
TEL :011-231-1888
FAX :011-231-1785

Asahi on 2-Channel BBS: “Criticism mounts against forum”


Hi Blog. Another (rather pedestrian, but something for the uninitiated; even the GOJ comments–albeit flacidly–this time) article about the rolling controversy that remains 2-Channel, the world’s largest BBS, and a hotbed of anonymized libel (the “den of criminals” comment is not mine).

As always, 2-Channel adminstrator Nishimura gets quoted. Wish they’d asked more comments from the victims.

More on my (successful, but unrequited) libel lawsuit against them at


Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Criticism mounts against forum



Courtesy of Dave Spector

Hiroyuki Nishimura is not one to play by the rules of others.

The 30-year-old founder of 2 Channel, the nation’s biggest online forum, has come under a growing barrage of criticism over his Web site, but he’s not paying much attention.

Since its creation in 1999, the forum has exploded in popularity. It currently boasts 10 million visitors monthly and brings in hundreds of millions of yen annually in advertising.

The forum’s most distinguishing feature, complete freedom and anonymity for posters, has led to much of its popularity. But it has also led to a pile of lawsuits against Nishimura.

So far, courts have awarded tens of millions of yen in compensation to complainants, but Nishimura has stated on his Internet blog and elsewhere that he has no intention of paying up.

“We are actually all living bound by an incomplete set of rules–you don’t have to pay if you simply refuse to pay. I mean, if I am going to be sentenced to death, I’d probably pay,” Nishimura said after one rare appearance in court.

2 Channel’s anonymity and sheer size have contributed to the site entering the social consciousness in a variety of ways. There was the case of an in-house whistle-blower who blew the lid on illegal company behavior.

And there were the “Densha Otoko” (train man) postings by an anonymous otaku who won his dream girl with the support of his online friends. The modern fairy tale became a book, a TV drama and a movie starring Takayuki Yamada and Miki Nakatani.

But there is a flipside; numerous complaints regarding libelous remarks and invasions of privacy.

The most recent case was after a 17-year-old boy in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, walked into a police station on May 15, saying he had killed his mother. The 2 Channel bulletin board exploded with rumors and information revealing the juvenile’s name.

As soon as the boy was arrested on suspicion of murder, 2 Channel was full of activity. One post said: “Here’s all the information I gathered about ‘–.’ Feel free to add anything that you’ve got.” The boy’s name, the names of the high school he attends and the junior high school he graduated from were all revealed.

Authorities asked 2 Channel moderators to delete 25 postings, stating they violated the Juvenile Law, which bans the publication of information that identifies minors accused of crimes. The request brought little change. In fact, a flurry of additional postings followed.

A Justice Ministry official said once information is posted on the site, it is extremely difficult to keep a lid on the data.

“Once you get written up on 2 Channel, the comments get quoted in other Internet blogs. Requesting deletion becomes an endless cat-and-mouse chase. There would be fewer problems if (the moderator) deleted the offensive post immediately.”

More than 50 lawsuits have been filed against Nishimura at the Tokyo District Court alone since 2001. A company in Tokyo took 2 Channel to court following a slew of postings stating the company was a “den of criminals.” Names of the company board members were posted. The company repeatedly asked that the posts be deleted, but to no avail.

In 2004, the company filed a provisional disposition with the Tokyo District Court. In June that year, 2 Channel was ordered to delete the comments. Nishimura refused to comply.

Two months later, an indirect enforcement was applied, imposing a fine each day until the request is met. Nishimura has refused to pay the fines.

According to 2 Channel’s internal guidelines, “Posts that have been subjected to court rulings will be deleted.” Yet the rule is there in name only.

A group of 300 voluntary self-elected moderators supposedly manage the 2 Channel site. But when it comes to a decision on whether to delete a post, Nishimura said: “If the post is obviously a crime, (it goes). We have our own criteria.”

Under a law enforceable since 2002, victims or Justice Ministry authorities can request a bulletin board’s operator to erase posts considered a civil rights violation and disclose sender information. Still, the request is not enforceable, and noncompliance does not carry penalties. Everything is left to the provider’s discretion.

According to one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, the accumulated fines from indirect enforcement orders has hit at least 430 million yen.

Nishimura has admitted that he draws an annual income of more than 100 million yen.

However, he has no real estate, and it is unclear how much he receives from a company on which he serves as a board member. Collection by seizing assets becomes difficult.(IHT/Asahi: May 29,2007)


Yomiuri on 2-Channel’s Nishimura: “I’ll pay court damages only if sentenced to death”


Hi Blog. 2-Channel’s Admin Nishimura Hiroyuki, now millions of dollars in the hole in terms of court penalties, just keeps the ball right on rolling. According to today’s Yomiuri, he won’t follow court orders unless there’s the threat of execution. Otherwise, he feels no compulsion. Is this a case of celebrity-status-induced insanity, or is this guy just a child when it comes to social responsibility?

Translating the Yomiuri article myself. The Japanese original is available at
More background on how it connects with me at
Debito in Sapporo



Yomiuri Shinbun March 20, 2007

Nishimura Hiroyuki, 30, administrator of 2-Channel Internet BBS, appeared in Tokyo District Court on March 19 for a civil case against him. His site has been the scene of many malicious email posters, and Nishimura has lost successive lawsuits for libel.

After the hearing, when asked for comment by a media contingent regarding his unpaid court penalities, he said: “If I would be put to death for not paying, I would. But nothing’s going to happen to me if I don’t pay, so I won’t.” He made very clear his intention not to pay in future.

Nishimura has up to now been the defendant in more than 50 civil suits nationwide, and the great majority of them have been losses for him. Unpaid damages and penalties assessed for not following injunctions and court rulings have now amassed to around 5 million dollars US. However, Nishimura has hardly ever paid up. Justifying this, Nishimura said, “If you turn deadbeat, nobody’s going to make you pay. With rules as stupid as this country has, it would be idiotic to pay up.”

Er, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again:





3月20日10時42分配信 読売新聞





クイックコメント:西村氏は大人ですか。こういう議論は大人気ないですね。有道 出人

Yomiuri: 2-Channel’s lost lawsuits pile up; now 43!


Hi Blog.  A roundup of the trouble that 2ch is making for Japan’s judiciary.  One of those 43 unresolved lawsuits happens to be mine.  More on that at
Arudou Debito in Tatebayashi

Message board owner has lost 43 lawsuits
The Yomiuri Shimbun Mar. 6, 2007

Hiroyuki Nishimura, the operator of the nation’s largest Internet message board, 2channel, has lost at least 43 of more than 50 civil lawsuits filed against him in Tokyo and elsewhere over defamation and other charges, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

Nishimura, 30, has been ordered to pay a total of about 58 million yen in damages, but has defied court orders by failing to pay most of it, and as a result has been fined the equivalent of about 880,000 yen a day, or more than 434 million yen cumulatively.

It appears Nishimura has not complied with any orders for payment of damages, meaning most of the plaintiffs have not received compensation despite winning lawsuits.

Observers have pointed out that this illustrates the lawlessness on the Internet and the limits in terms of judicial action that can be taken against those who break the law online.

Since 2001, more than 50 lawsuits have been filed against Nishimura with the Tokyo District Court alone. Nishimura’s defeat in court was finalized in 40 of the cases, as well as in respect of lawsuits filed with the Sapporo, Osaka and Kobe district courts.

In the lawsuits, the plaintiffs called for the deletion of content on the discussion board, the disclosure of information on message writers and the financial compensation from Nishimura over his neglect to eliminate problematic writings.

In a libel case filed by a Tokyo animal clinic operator in July 2001 over a post that described the clinic as “nasty,” Nishimura was ordered to pay 4 million yen in damages. The ruling has been finalized.

In a case filed by a Hokkaido associate professor in January last year seeking damages over messages that denounced him as racist and psychotic [guess who], Nishimura was ordered to pay 1.1 million yen in damages. The court ruling to that effect was finalized.

In many of his trials, Nishimura neither employed a lawyer nor attended hearings, resulting in the court handing down decisions all in favor of the plaintiffs. Nishimura rarely appealed the rulings.

According to the Yomiuri survey, Nishimura complied with court orders for removing messages in 11 cases and disclosing information in three cases.

But he has not paid up in any of the 21 cases in which he was ordered to pay damages.

As a result, the plaintiffs in nine of the cases filed for court orders for the seizure of Nishimura’s assets. But the plaintiffs could secure only 3 million yen in four cases.

The seizure of Nishimura’s assets did not prove successful because it has proved hard to trace his bank accounts, and even when his accounts were found, there was little money in them.

Another reason is because the court was told by a company at which Nishimura served as director of the board that it did not pay him remuneration.

Those libeled on the forums have filed for provisional injunctions ordering the removal of certain posts and the disclosure of information on their authors. If the defendant does not follow a court ruling or provisional injunction order, the court, based on the demands by the plaintiff, can order the defendant to pay a daily fine until he or she complies with the order.

Such system has been applied to Nishimura in five cases. He is now obliged to pay about 880,000 yen a day. As of March 1, the cumulative fines came to 434 million yen.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has sent e-mail requests to Nishimura since late last month asking him for an interview, but had received no response as of Monday.

Nishimura started 2channel in 1999 while he was studying in the United States.

The message board is subdivided into various categories in which people can write on any topic anonymously.

(Mar. 6, 2007)




有道 出人

読売新聞 2007年3月5日14時30分












(2007年3月5日14時30分 読売新聞)

Zakzak:2ch マルサ動く…国税局職員の父親を直撃
















NEWSFLASH: 2chan Comments in Wake-Up Plus TV and Sunday Mainichi


Hi Blog. Quick notice on two upcoming media events you might want to keep an eye on, as the 2-Channel media attention steps up a few more rungs:

“WAKE UP PLUS”, Yomiuri TV, Saturday January 20 8AM
If you can get up in time, there will be a report on 2-Channel, and comments from me.

If you can’t get up in time, my comments which were aired January 16 are visible at YouTube
Comments should be the same. NTV asked for my permission yesterday to recycle them. I said sure, and added there’s a lot more where they came from.

Called this morning, got some comments, should be in their issue on sale Tuesday, January 23.

More to come. Debito



ブロクの皆様、取り急ぎ載せますが、NEWS FLASH 1/20(土)の読売テレビ(NTV)の「ウェクアッププラス」(午前8時から放送)とサンデー毎日(1/23)をご覧下さい。2ちゃんねるの件についてコメントが報道されるようです。

宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

2ちゃんねるが注目を集めている、サイバーテロがdebito.orgを標的する、16日NTV放送 (youtubeへリンク)


毎日:2ちゃんねる:書き込み者を名誉棄損で告訴 神奈川の学校

ZAKZAK: 2ch管理人に破産申し立て…35歳被害者が手続き


2ちゃんねる:16日NTV放送(youtube), debito.orgがサイバーテロ標的


(ブログの皆様、取り急いた日本語のメーリングリストへのお知らせを載せます。日本語が乱れてすみません。有道 出人)

From: Arudou Debito
Subject: NEWS FLASH:2ちゃんねるが注目を集めている、今夜NTV放送

皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。このメールは普通のdebito.orgのメールではなく、debito.orgは不通になってしまいました。なぜなら、サイバー・テロでやられて、ダウンになりました。そのことについて以下詳しく申し上げますが、取り急ぎのことを先に述べさせていただきます。早速書いてしまいますので、下手な日本語をお許し下さい。

  2ちゃんねるについて有道 出人とのインタビューが放送
  違う裁判の原告の有道 出人はヘートメイルの標的となり
January 16, 2006

  2ちゃんねるについて有道 出人とのインタビューが放送


このサイトがアクセスすることを祈っています。きゅう、サイバーテロ(cyber terrorism)の標的となって、ダウンになりました。


  違う裁判の原告の有道 出人はヘートメイルの標的となり


 ネット界激震!! 賠償命令を無視し続けてきた日本最大の掲示板「2ちゃんねる」(2Ch)の管理人、西村博之氏(30)の全財産が仮差し押さえされることが12日、分かった。債権者が東京地裁に申し立てたもので、対象となるのは西村氏の銀行口座、軽自動車、パソコン、さらにネット上の住所にあたる2Chのドメイン「」にまで及ぶ見込み。執行されれば掲示板の機能が一時停止するのは必至だ。

などのヘートメイル(hate mail)があり、2ちゃんねるの英語版「4chan」(アメリカで2ちゃんねるをクロンしたようです)からの関連者がどうなるかを色々送りました。









ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その2) 「エサ」総がかりで暴露

ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その3止) 2ch管理人に聞く

以上です。取り急ぎお送りします。日本語が乱れて申し訳ございません。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

Mainichi: Criminal complaint re slander of school on 2-Channel


School files criminal complaint over slandering on online bulletin board
Mainichi Shinbun, January 16, 2007

ODAWARA, Kanagawa — The operator of a school where dozens of children who have dropped out of other schools are enrolled in has filed a criminal complaint with law enforcers over online bulletin board messages slandering the school, sources said.

In its complaint filed with Odawara Police Station, the Shonan Linus Gakuen corporation does not identify the suspects, who have withheld their names on the website.

The corporation accuses the unidentified suspects of placing more than 2,000 messages on the popular “Ni-Channeru” (“Channel 2”) bulletin board slandering the school and its operator between December 2005 and October 2006.

“The president of the corporation has mental problems,” one of the messages read.

“If you attend Linus, your academic ability will decline,” another message said.

Linus Gakuen charges that these messages damaged the public’s confidence in it and defamed it and its president.

Following the incident, some students quit the school while other children who were to join the school decided not to do so.

The school operator has asked Hiroyuki Nishimura, who manages the Ni-Channeru site, to delete the slandering messages, but he has not complied.

Currently, 43 students who have dropped out of other schools or are suffering from learning disorders are studying at Linus’ elementary, junior high and high schools that were opened in April 2005 with special permission from the government under its structural reform policies. (Mainichi)

Click here for the original Japanese story
January 16, 2007

毎日:2ちゃんねる:書き込み者を名誉棄損で告訴 神奈川の学校


2ちゃんねる:書き込み者を名誉棄損で告訴 神奈川の学校



毎日新聞 2007年1月16日 3時00分

ZAKZAK: 2ch管理人に破産申し立て…35歳被害者が手続き


18:57 この記事についてのブログ(24)















 年明けから次々と打たれるクサビ。1000万人ものユーザーを抱える巨大掲示板の管理人として、西村氏は重大な決断を迫られつつある。 website zapped by cyberelements


Hi Blog: One learns something new every day. Today’s lesson for me is how tenuous our connections with the Internet are, and how quickly the trappings of modern life one learns to take for granted can be taken away.

I’m referring to this website,, something I have been working on for nearly a decade to provide a valuable record on life and human rights in Japan. It got zapped today (January 16, 2007) by anonymous Cyberspace terrorists in the name of 2-Channel.

How this came about:

About a week ago, Yuukan Fuji (one of Japan’s most influential daily tabloids) reported that a 35-year-old guy sued 2-Channel (the world’s largest internet bbs) for libel and won. They also reported that he would be seizing the 2-Channel domain name within about a week (i.e. yesterday), and due to that 2-Channel would be closed down.

I also happen to have a libel lawsuit victory outstanding with 2-Channel (see, eventually, However, the Yuukan Fuji article wasn’t about me. I am not 35, and I have never advocated that 2-Channel be closed down. (Quite the opposite–I have said at various junctures that I think 2ch offers a very valuable service, and despite the bad eggs it should continue to exist.) I just wanted 2ch Administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki to honor the Iwamizawa District Court decision: pay damages, delete the libelous posts in question, and reveal the poster(s)’ IP addresses. (To this day, none of these things have been done.)

Unfortunately, the cyberspace terrorists out there (who are, according to my sources, becoming ever more sophisticated these days) do not have a great record regarding reading comprehension or research, and decided that I was the one to take revenge against.

From Monday morning Jan 15, the hate mail began trickling in. Then the death threats. Finally, according to my website domain admin today, has been zapped–i.e. people with large bandwidths have aimed internet guns and fired millions of page accesses onto my the server, overloading it and closing it down. Which means I am stuck without a site, or a blog, or email, until they get bored.

This is why, for the time being, will be inaccessible. Pity this had to happen. But given the fact that practically all the world’s major sites have had to face this kind of dilemma (apparently cyberterrorists have become cyber blackmailers, similarly crippling websites for major world corporations until a fee is paid), this is becoming an argument for policing the Internet better.

For if people like these can get away with hurting people, then decide to hurt those same people further if they try to defend themselves through legally-sanctioned means, then we have a culture of lawlessness that needs to be addressed.

In the end, it shows me that we as human beings have not evolved far from the apes and the wolf packs. Would have thought that developing a written language would have separated us. Instead, it, and its delivery vehicles, are enjoying knock-on effects as weapons.

It is things like these which have spoiled the Internet (once a more pleasant place to garner information and meet people) for the rest of us. Damned shame. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS: The most ironic thing about this whole issue is that most of the hate mail and death threats are in English. Native English, for the most part. Claiming responsibility for all this is some place called “4chan” which is apparently the overseas version of 2-Channel, with the same attitude towards information, anonymity, and personal responsibility. Replication imminent.

I keep saying this, but leave lawnessness alone and it spreads through copycatting. Copycats like any game of “monkey see, monkey do”, just so long as it suits their interests and they get off scot-free.

Meanwhile, 2-Channel did NOT go down. It was a hoax. And I had nothing to do with it. Yet these cyberelements just keep on plugging away to overwhelm the servers at

So much for their claim to defense of freedom of speech.

NEWSFLASH: NTV interviews Arudou Debito re 2-Channel Lawsuit



I got interviewed earlier tonight with Nippon TV (Ch 5 in Sapporo, Ch 4 in Tokyo).
Details as follows:


I’d send you a link for background on the issue ( but my site has been zapped by cyberterrorists.

So much for these people who claim they are defending freedom of speech.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
January 16, 2006



Watched the program. I got four soundbites: That I have never heard anything from 2-Channel before, during, or after. That I have never received a penny of court-mandated damages. That this case questions the very efficacy of having a court system. And that 2-Channel should take responsibility for its actions.

See it here at YouTube

Given that I had a day that would rival Jack Bauer’s: Eighteen 20-minute verbal interviews with individual students, the loss and return of, several calls to arrange affairs down south for events, and several calls from Japanese mass media regarding this case, I think I fared fairly well. Appearing on TV is not my strong suit anyway, so I think I did better than I expected.

Probably time to call it a day. Thanks to everyone out there for their letters of support! Debito



ブログの皆様おばんでございます。有道 出人です。新年おめでとうございます!





 ネット界激震!! 賠償命令を無視し続けてきた日本最大の掲示板「2ちゃんねる」(2Ch)の管理人、西村博之氏(30)の全財産が仮差し押さえされることが12日、分かった。債権者が東京地裁に申し立てたもので、対象となるのは西村氏の銀行口座、軽自動車、パソコン、さらにネット上の住所にあたる2Chのドメイン「」にまで及ぶ見込み。執行されれば掲示板の機能が一時停止するのは必至だ。

2ちゃんねる名誉毀損敗訴事件(有道 出人原告)


有道 出人のブロクにて2ちゃんねる関連記事


ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その2) 「エサ」総がかりで暴露


ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その2) 「エサ」総がかりで暴露

   @   @
   @   @

連載「ネット君臨」 過去の記事はこちら
第1部・失われていくもの/1(その1) 難病児募金あざける「祭り」
第1部・失われていくもの/1(その3止) 2ch管理人に聞く
毎日新聞 2007年1月1日 東京朝刊

ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その3止) 2ch管理人に聞く


ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その3止) 2ch管理人に聞く




Hello All. Time for another

and finally

freely forwardable
blogged in real time at


I had an interview yesterday morning with one of Japan’s major networks, TBS (the network which brought you “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin”, and still brings sunlight and subliminal musical jokes to Sunday mornings with “Sunday Japon”).

It’ll be a brief segment on the 2-Channel libel lawsuit, with me speaking as one of the many victorious plaintiffs which BBS administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki refuses to pay, despite court rulings.

The attention this issue is getting in recent weeks is very welcome. The more the better, as it may prod the creation of some legislation. Japan should at least strengthen “contempt of court” punishments for court delinquents, making evasions of this type a criminal offense prosecutable by police.

As it stands right now, a thwarted Plaintiff in Japan has to chase down the Defendant for payment, at his or her own time and expense.

As I found out two weekends ago, you can’t even “serve papers” to a Defendant (notifying him of his legal obligations and eliminating plausible deniability) yourself, say, in a pizza box or at a public event. I refer to Nishimura’s blythe speech at Waseda (more on that in the next section), where my lawyer said I could approach the podium with papers, but it would be a publicity stunt, not a legally-binding action. “Serving” must go via the court through registered post; and all the deadbeat has to do is not retreive his mail!

But I digress. The show will be broadcast as follows:
Thursday, November 16, 2006 (as in tomorrow)
I’m told sometime between 12 noon and 1PM.
However, the show starts at 11AM, so set your VCRS.
TV network: TBS (HBC in Hokkaido)

Final thought: Quite honestly, I find appearing on TV terrifying. It’s like dancing (which I can’t do either–I think too much to have any rhythm). It takes all my brainpower just to manage my thoughts digestably, and then worrying about how to manage my face and eyes and all overloads the system… Anyway, tune in and see how I did.



Scandal paper Yuukan Fuji (and its online feed ZAKZAK) has been doing a series on Nishimura and 2-Channel, mentioning my case by name as well (which is what occasioned TBS coming up north to talk to me yesterday).

You can see two of the articles from last week translated into English by Adamu at Mutant Frog (thanks!) at

Don’t mess with 2ch: ZAKZAK, Sankei Sports report

The rupo on the Waseda speech deserves excerpting:

———————- EXCERPT BEGINS ——————————–
The focus was, as could be expected, the issue of Nishimura’s litigation-related disappearance. Last month, in a suit brought by a female professional golfer (age 24) alleging she was slandered and harmed by the bulletin board seeking deletion of the posts and damages etc, Nishimura was ordered to delete the posts and pay 1 million yen in compensation. However, he ignored the call from the court to appear in this case, and never showed up in court even once.

As to the reasons for that, Nishimura admitted, “Actually, there are similar cases going on from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.” He bluntly explained, “Well, lawyer fees would cost more than 1 million yen. Hey, I’ll go if I get bored.”

He explained that “I deleted the problem section (from the site),” but added his horrifying assertion that “there is no law to make me pay compensation by force, so it doesn’t matter if I win or lose in court. It’s the same thing if I don’t pay (the compensation).” When asked about his annual income, he boasted “a little more than Japan’s population (127 million).” So he’s not having money issues.

In response to Nishimura’s assertion that “there is no law forcing me to pay compensation,” Nippon University professor of criminal law Hiroshi Itakura points out, “a court’s compulsory enforcement (kyousei shikkou) can be used to ‘collect’ compensation.” He says that running from compensation is impossible. Also, if someone hides assets etc. for the purposes of avoiding compulsory execution, then “that would constitute the crime of obstructing compulsory execution,” (kyousei shikkou bougai zai). Itabashi wonders, “It is strange that the courts that ordered the compensation have not implemented compulsory enforcement. It’s not like Nishimura doesn’t have any assets.”
———————- EXCERPT ENDS ———————————–

Originals in Japanese at

2ちゃんねるの西村ひろゆき:早稲田にて「強制的に(賠償金を)払わせる法律がない」(追加:ZAKZAK 記事)

Two more ZAKZAK articles in Japanese which came out this week at


(Adamu, feel free to translate again, thanks!)

And an article photocopied (literally) and sent from Dave Spector while shinkansenning (thanks!), from Tokyo Sports, Nov 9, 2006. Headline notes how the police are starting to get involved:

I wonder how long Nishimura thinks he’s going to be able to get away with this…



Professor Noriguchi at Kitakyushu University is becoming a regular pundit on English language education in Japan.

After saying not two months ago in the Asahi Shinbun’s prestigious “Watashi No Shiten” column, that one problem with non-Japanese teachers is that they stay in Japan too long (, he’s back again with a response to his critics (or, as he puts it, his supporters).

Article is archived at

Kitakyudai’s Noriguchi again in Asahi on English teaching (Nov 4, 2006, with updates)

Let me rewrite a few of Noriguchi’s points and weave in comment and interpretation. He essentially asserts this time that:

So much energy devoted to the study of English (as opposed to other languages) is not only unneighborly, it is a reflection of a Japanese inferiority complex towards the West.

One consequence of this much focus on English is a lot of swindling and deception of the Japanese consumer, with bogus advertising about the merits and the effects of English language education.

In any case, English is hardly necessary for life in Japan, so why require it on entrance exams? Especially after all the trauma that Japanese go through learning it.

This is no mystery. Japanese have a natural barrier to learning English, given the “Japanese mentality”, the characteristics of the language, and the homogeneity of the country.

More so than other Asian countries, he mysteriously asserts. (Koreans, for example? And won’t the same barriers apply to other Asian languages if the Japanese are indeed so unique?)

Meanwhile, let’s keep the door revolving on foreign English-language educators by hiring retired teachers from overseas, who not only will bring in more expertise and maturity, but also by design (and by natural longevity) will not stay as long in Japan and have as much of an effect.

(NB: The last point is not his, but it’s symptomatic of Noriguchi’s throwing out of ideas which are not all that well thought through in practice. After all, nowhere in his essay does he retract his previous assertion that part of the problem is foreign teachers staying here too long.)

As before, Professor Noriguchi is reachable at
He says that far more people support his views than not, so if you want to show him differently, write him.

Meanwhile, those two Watashi No Shiten articles seem to be having an effect on domestic debate. As a friend of mine (who is in academic admin) said earlier today on a different mailing list:

============== BEGINS ====================
[Noriguchi’s] articles are not merely “problematic”–they are DEVASTATING to the cause of foreigners here. I’ve had to discuss his crackpot ideas (given a kind of pseudo authority because they appeared in the Asahi and because the author is Japanese) on two occasions over just the LAST WEEK–once with a university president, and once with the head of this city’s board of education. Both see in these articles justifications for firing experienced foreign faculty and bringing in cheaper newbies. After all, as Noriguchi … [has] made clear, we are only language “polishers” and “cultural ambassadors,” not teachers.

Some unintentional humor from [The Ministry of Education]. On my desk right now is a document [entitled Gaikokujin Chomei Kenkyuusha Shouhei Jigyou].

The plan as described: Bring in NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS to accelerate (and elevate) the pacing and quality of academic research here. The catch? These stars will be on contracts capped on principle at 1-3 years!

Wouldn’t want these “cultural ambassadors” to become stale….
============== ENDS =====================

Concluding thoughts: There is a large confluence of events in recent weeks which makes me wonder whether the Ministry of Education is gearing up for another cleanout of foreign faculty in Japanese universities (as happened between 1992 and 1994, see Hall, CARTELS OF THE MIND). I’ll develop that theory a bit more if you want in my next newsletter.



I mentioned last newsletter about an addition to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Enterprises: An exclusionary restaurant, discovered in Kitakyushu on November 3, had an owner so fearful of foreign languages that he turned people away that maychance speak them.
If he can’t greet customers because of his own complexes, perhaps he’s in the wrong line of work?

Well, I sent a letter on this dated November 9, in English and Japanese, to the Kitakyushu Mayor’s Office, the City Bureau of Tourism, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local Nishi Nihon Shinbun newspaper, all my Japanese mailing lists, and JALT Central. Text available at

Letter to Kitakyushu authorities re exclusionary restaurant, Nov 9 06

No responses as of yet. Few things like these are taken care of overnight. Wait and see.



One of the advantages of doing what I do is that I get very interesting emails from friends. The other day, I got a report from a friend who paid a visit to a Japanese prison, to offer moral support to someone incarcerated. I don’t really know much about what the incarcerated has done to justify his imprisonment, but that’s not the point of the story. Interesting are the bureaucratic tribulations he (the author, not the prisoner) had to go through just to get a short audience (limited to 15 minutes), worth recording somewhere for the record. In the end, I couldn’t help thinking: Is all this rigmarole necessary? What purpose could it possibly serve?

Read the report at

Eyewitness account of a visit to a Japanese prison (with comment)



A friend notified me of a blog entry (not exactly the most trustworthy source, I know) about German woman who wants to marry a Japanese man. The problem is, he’s a policeman, and apparently he was told by his bosses that Japanese police who want a future in the NPA cannot marry foreigners. There’s a security issue involved, it would seem.

Hm. Might be a hoax, but had the feeling it warranted further investigation. After I reported this to The Community mailing list (, I got a couple of responses, one saying that international marriage is in fact not forbidden by the NPA (and this supervisor bullying should be reported to internal affairs).

But the other response said that somebody married to a former member of the Japanese Self Defense Forces also had to quit his job because of it. He was involved in a “sensitive” area, apparently.

Hm again. I know that certain jobs (such as Shinto Priests) are not open to foreigners, due to one of those “Yamato Race” thingies. (Buddhism, however, seems to be open, as I know of one German gentleman on my lists who has an administrative post within a major Japanese sect.)

But imagine the number of people in, for example, “sensitive” jobs in the US State Department who would have to make a choice between their job and a foreign spouse?

I’m blogging this issue for the time being at

Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)

with comments and pings open for a change.

Any information? Let us know. Thanks.

and finally:



For those of you under still under rocks: Our home team is unstoppable!

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, after reaching the top in Japan last month, on Sunday won the Asian Series, 1-0, vs Taiwan.

This makes them the best team in Asia this year. Our first baseman Ogawawara was just made MVP for the Pacific League, too! (Pity it looks as though we’re going to lose him to the rich but insufferably arrogant Tokyo Giants…)

Now if only we’d create a REAL world series, so the North Americans can’t lay claim to the title of “World Champion” every year!

Some articles of interest:
On Hillman and Fighers’ team spirit
On Ogasawara
Wrapping up the season

As always, thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
November 15, 2006

Interview Thurs on Thurs Nov 18 lunchtime on TBS show “Pinpon”, re 2-Channel (with updates)


Hello Blog. I had an interview this morning with one of Japan’s major networks, TBS (the network which brought you “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin”, and still brings sunlight and subliminal musical jokes to Sunday mornings with “Sunday Japon”).

It’ll be a brief segment on the 2-Channel libel lawsuit, speaking as one of the many victorious plaintiffs which BBS administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki refuses to pay despite court rulings.

Great. Thanks. The more attention this issue gets, the better, as it may prod the creation of some legislation.

Japan should at least strengthen “contempt of court” punishments for delinquents, making evasions of this type a criminal offense. As it stands right now, a thwarted Plaintiff in Japan has to chase down the Defendant for payment, at his or her own time and expense. You can’t even serve papers to the guy in a pizza box or a public event (such as Nishimura’s recent blythe speech at Waseda, see “Serving” has to go through the court through registered post, and all the deadbeat has to do is not retreive his mail!

But I digress. The show will be broadcast as follows:

Thursday, November 16, 2006. I’m told sometime between 12 noon and 1PM.
However, the show starts at 11AM, so set your VCRS.
TV network: TBS (HBC in Hokkaido)

Quite honestly, I find appearing on TV terrifying–it’s like dancing (which I can’t do either–I think too much to have any rhythm). It takes all my brainpower just to manage my thoughts digestibly, and having to manage my face and eyes and all overloads the system… Anyway, let’s see how I did.

Meanwhile, here is a link to some blogged ZAKZAK articles, appearing as a series this week and last. At the bottom is a photocopied (literally) article courtesy Dave Spector, reading on the shinkansen. Thanks Dave!


If Adamu at Mutantfrog wants to translate these too, most welcome! Too busy at the moment to get to it myself.

Debito in Sapporo



Rats, got bumped by Fujiwara Norika on TBS
Posted by debito on November 16th, 2006

Hi Blog. The story on 2-Channel got bumped off TBS’s PINPON today. Rats. Supermodel Fujiwara Norika’s apparent marriage was the bigger story, then a huge advertisement for Clint Eastwood’s movie IWO JIMA filled the rest of the lunch hour.

Ah well, that’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to being bumped by Norika (smile).

The reporter on the story says she’s interviewing other people connected with the 2-Channel issue, and will let me know later if and when they’ll broadcast. I’ll pass the information on when I have it. Thanks for watching. Debito, on his way to Nagoya.


Update on TBS segment on 2-Channel: Probably cancelled
Posted by debito on November 25th, 2006

Hi Blog. Nearly two weeks ago, I wrote you to say that TBS would be featuring a segment on their weekday lunchtime program “PINPON” regarding the 2-Channel lawsuits ( They interviewed me for a broadcast which got bumped last Friday by news on Fujiwara Norika.

Now it’s been a week. Just called the interviewer. She says that the network wants a response from 2-Channel’s Administrator Defendant Nishimura Hiroyuki before airing. They’re still waiting for a response, unsurprisingly.

Ah well, that’s it then. Nishimura communicates with the press only by blog, as a recent story in AERA ( indicates. He’s not going to make a TV appearance on this. Meanwhile, the story cools, by design.

So might as well assume the TV spot is cancelled. Sigh. Debito



 ≪警告 メディア創研accessの諸君 11月4日(土)15号館302教室のイベントで2チャンネル管理人不法行為責任「西村博之」を呼んだら会場を爆破する! 脅しではない!≫
 早稲田大の学生サークルのホームページにある掲示板に先月29日、「民族派 右翼」を名乗る脅迫が書き込まれた。
ZAKZAK 2006/11/13

ZAKZAK 2006/11/14

Tokyo Sports Nov 9, 2006 on 2-Channel BBS

Article courtesy Dave Spector. Thanks.

Zakzak and Sankei on 2-Channel libel (thanks Adamu)


Hi Blog. Found that fellow blogger Adamu at Mutantfrog has translated two articles on internet BBS 2-Channel, a hotbed for information, rumor, and (as court rulings have borne out) libel.

I have the original articles archived in Japanese

Meanwhile, let’s archive Adamu’s translations.

Tokyo Sports Nov 9, 2006 on 2-Channel BBS
Photocopy (literally) of article courtesy Dave Spector. Thanks. Click on it for a larger image.

More on the problems with 2-Channel

Thanks very much, Adamu! Debito in Sapporo

2-Channel in a state of lawlessness – Attacks on individuals left on the site
ZAKZAK, quoting Sankei Shinbun, November 7, 2006

A 30-year-old customer service worker recalls her painful memories:

“I went back to my parents’ house after my home address was revealed on the Internet, but harassing phone calls kept coming into my office. Even my customers started to distrust me, thinking that I had someone (harassing me).”

The woman took the brunt of insults such as “ex-prostitute,” “too much plastic surgery,” and threats including “I’ll kill you,” and “Just die.”

There were rumors that “an old acquaintence in the same business posted the offending material around the time when (the woman) opened her own store,” but the “culprit” could not be identified. The woman filed a civil law suit holding message board’s moderator Hiroyuki Nishimura (age 29, pictured) responsible.

The Tokyo Regional Court ordered deletion of the posts and 1 million yen in compensation, but the court victory spawed a second round of attacks. On 2ch, there were several posts including “don’t get bent out of shape over such things,” “I’ll beat you to death,” and “Hurry up and hang yourself.” Her workplace’s web site was also flooded with similar posts, shutting it down. The woman took leave from work for a while due to the stress.

Nishimura’s reaction at the time was, “Since it wasn’t just a demand to delete the posts, but litigation to take money from the message board’s moderator, I think it happened because it provoked protest from regular users.”

The woman explains, “As of now the person who gets posted about is the loser. The person who actually posts is never ultimately found, and even if you sue it doesn’t make you feel better. I don’t even want to hear the word ‘2ch.’”

Hokkaido Information University professor Debito Arudou (age 41), who became a naturalized Japanese citizen from the US in 2000, has sued to eliminate racial discrimination at public baths etc that are “Japanese only.” Meanwhile, at 2ch, posts made the rounds starting 2 years ago claiming that “American white David Aldwinckle” (the professor’s former name) made claims like the following:

“20,000 Iraqi citizens massacred due to invasion supported by Aldwinkle (American citizen)”

“For the profits of American whites, there is no problem with the massacre of a few hundred thousand nonwhites.”

Prof. Arudou is furious: “I said nothing of the kind. It’s a fabrication aimed to hurt my image and destroy my position as a human rights activist.” He was victorious in litigation seeking to have the posts deleted, but Nishimura is ignoring the decision. The false statements are still on the Internet in thousands of posts.

[NB: You can see for yourself by doing a Google search, by entering “アルドウィンクル” , “イラク” and “2ch”. Tried just now and got 1060 hits, up from 1050 three days ago, and from around 500 from when the libel court decision came down in my favor back in January. The situation is thus getting worse.)

A male business owner (age 40) of Chiba prefecture had his address, telephone number, the names of his family members, and even photos of his house and car registration documents exposed on 2ch. Phone calls asking for confirmation of orders he has no recollection of taking come constantly.

“I think I was targeted because I criticized the status of 2ch on the Internet. If you make an enemy of 2ch then terrible posts will be made [about you] and left there. I don’t know whether the people who push their way into my house are from inside 2ch or 2ch followers, or… I just give up because there’s nothing I can do.”

(From ZAKZAK’s 2ch reporting team)

Now for Sankei Sports:
November 5, 2006

Original Article

Here’s Hiroyuki! 2-channel moderator gives lecture at Waseda University

Hiroyuki Nishimura, better known simply as “Hiroyuki,” moderator of enormous, anonymous bulletin board website 2-channel, who has been “missing” since last August, gave a lecture at Waseda University (located in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo)’s school festival on Nov. 4.

Nishimura has faced continual lawsuits over slanderous and hurtful posts on his website. Just last month, he was ordered to pay compensation of 1 million yen without ever setting foot in the courtroom, but he said “I’ll go to court if I’m bored.” He showed a consistent stance of having no intention of paying the damages.

He spoke freely of what he was thinking while “missing” at a lecture during the Waseda Festival. The theme was “the information society as seen from 2-channel.” 650 people, including standees, crammed the large classroom used for the event.

When Nishimura appeared in a black t-shirt over a gray long-sleeved shirt, the crowd oohed and ahhed. In response to the host’s comment that “It was reported you were missing…” Nishimura lazily played the stooge, saying “No no, you see, I’m a shadow warrior.” The crowd roared with laughter.

The focus was, as could be expected, the issue of Nishimura’s litigation-related disappearance. Last month, in a suit brought by a female professional golfer (age 24) alleging she was slandered and harmed by the bulletin board seeking deletion of the posts and damages etc, Nishimura was ordered to delete the posts and pay 1 million yen in compensation. However, he ignored the call from the court to appear in this case, and never showed up in court even once.

As to the reasons for that, Nishimura admitted, “Actually, there are similar cases going on from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.” He bluntly explained, “Well, lawyer fees would cost more than 1 million yen… Hey, I’ll go if I get bored.”

He explained that “I deleted the problem section (from the site),” but added his horrifying assertion that “there is no law to make me pay compensation by force, so it doesn’t matter if I win or lose in court. It’s the same thing if I don’t pay (the compensation).” When asked about his annual income, he boasted “a little more than Japan’s population (127 million).” So he’s not having money issues…

Nishimura smiled when he received his favorite snack candy “Yummy sticks” (Umai bo) from the host. However, at the end an accident occurred. During a part of the program where Nishimura answered questions for him posted on his website and displayed on a large screen, there was a post saying “Die, Hiroyuki!”

Nishimura shook it off: “That’s a lazy greeting.” Finally, the lecture ended with a message to people looking at their PCs right now: “Go outside!”

In response to Nishimura’s assertion that “there is no law forcing me to pay compensation,” Nippon University professor of criminal law Hiroshi Itakura points out, “a court’s compulsory enforcement (kyousei shikkou) can be used to ‘collect’ compensation.” He says that running from compensation is impossible. Also, if someone hides assets etc for the purposes of avoiding compulsory execution, then “that would constitute the crime of obstructing compulsory execution,” the professor tells us. Itabashi wonders, “It is strange that the courts that ordered the compensation have not implemented compulsory enforcement. It’s not like Nishimura doesn’t have any assets…”


2ちゃんねるの西村ひろゆき:早稲田にて「強制的に(賠償金を)払わせる法律がない」(追加:ZAKZAK 記事)


有道 出人です。ブログの読者、こんにちは。いつもお世話になっております。

さて、2ちゃんねるの管理者西村ひろゆきは11月4日、早稲田にて講演をしました。(私の名誉毀損勝訴の経緯は ) 。現場からレポートは以降にあります。



現場からレポートをどうぞお読み下さい。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

November 5, 2006


 ひろゆきがキター! “雲隠れ”をしていた西村氏が約1年2カ月ぶりに公の場に姿を見せた。
 司会者から好物のスナック菓子「うまい棒」を差し入れられ、笑顔を見せた西村氏。しかし、終盤にアクシデントが発生。掲示板に寄せられた西村氏への質問を大画面に写し、本人がそれに答えるコーナーで、「死ね! ひろゆき」と記された投稿があったのだ。

November 7, 2006

ZAKZAK 2006/11/07

2-Channel’s Nishimura speaking at Waseda Nov 4 2ちゃんねる管理者「ひろゆき」講演


(English first, 日本語は英語の後です)

News Flash:

Just heard from a reporter that Nishimura Hiroyuki, the administrator and owner of internet BBS 2-Channel, currently on the lam after not paying several court losses (including mine–see, will actually be making a public appearance on Saturday November 4 at Waseda University, Tokyo.

Details follow, courtesy of a friend who answered a call for information put out to my blog (

SPEAKER: NISHIMURA Hiroyuki (Administrator of 2-Channel BBS)
DATE AND TIME: Sat, Nov 4, 2006, 2 to 4 PM
PLACE: Waseda University, Nishi Waseda Campus, Building 15, Room 302

Here is a map of the campus:

Sounds like an interesting speech. Wish I could attend. Readers and reporters should feel free to go see him and ask a few questions. Maybe somebody could serve him papers…

Bests, Debito in Sapporo
Japanese follows:

有道 出人です。皆様おはようございます。ホットニュースを聞いたので、早速転送させていただきます。



時間*11月4日(土曜日) 14:00〜16:00(予定)
場所*早稲田大学 西早稲田キャンパス 15号館302教室

有道 出人


mytest NEWSLETTER OCT 24 2006

Hello everybody. Arudou Debito here, emailing you during a layover at Narita Airport. Just got finished with my travels (Oct 4-22), so here’s an update on what’s transpired:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////// newsletter dated October 24, 2006
Freely Forwardable


This article comes from Japan Times Reporter Eric Johnston specially for this newsletter and Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are his, and not necessarily those of The Japan Times. I enclose his article in full, because you won’t get this degree of analysis anywhere else:

——————–ARTICLE BEGINS————————–
Special to

On Oct. 18th, the Steve McGowan case ended with a partial victory, when the Osaka High Court awarded him 350,000 yen. McGowan had sued Takashi Narita, the owner of an eyeglass store [G-Style, see ] in Daito, Osaka Pref. for racial discrimination, after Narita barred him from entering his store and told McGowan he didn’t like black people.

The court’s decision was welcomed by McGowan and his lawyers were, if not completely satisfied, at least relieved that the High Court did not simply repeat the District Court ruling which, as Debito has detailed so well elsewhere on this site (, can be summed up as: McGowan “misunderstood” Narita and there is no evidence of racial discrimination.

But many of those who followed the case, especially human rights activists, remained worried. The High Court avoided ruling whether or not Narita’s words and actions constituted racial discrimination, a point that both McGowan’s lawyer and some of his supporters hammered home to reporters in the post-verdict press conference.

So what was the verdict? It was a very, very carefully, vaguely worded ruling that said Narita’s words and deeds were an illegal activity outside social norms. But, and this is the crux of the problem, it cited no written precedents. The phrase “outside social norms” smacks of paternalism, of a stern father privately scolding the bully. What social norms are we talking about, Dad, and could the court please provide all of us a list of the ones that are legal and illegal?

Furthermore, the phrase used in ruling about the social norms, “fuhou koui” can mean both “illegal activities” or “activities not covered by the scope of current laws on the books.” In this case, given the overall tone of the ruling and because the court ordered Narita to pay, the closer meaning in spirit is “illegal activities “.

But anybody familiar with the way Japan works can see the potential problem ahead. What is going to happen when the next person, Japanese or not, is barred entry into a store whose Japanese owner tells them to leave and then says they don’t like the color of their skin? Using the McGowan High Court ruling as a precedent, some future High Court can simply decide what the “social norms” are based only on what the judge or judges feel the norms are. They then have the power to decide, in the absence of clear, written precedents, whether or not those social norms have been violated to the extent that–even though there is nothing on the books–somebody should be punished.

In fact, using the logic of the Osaka High Court, the decision could have just as easily gone the other way. In other words, the High Court could have simply chosen to use the second possible definition of “fuhou koui”, and say that, although Narita’s comments may have been outside social norms, there is nothing on the books. Therefore, we cannot say that what happened was “illegal”. Therefore, plaintiff’s motion denied.

It is to the eternal credit of the Osaka High Court that their judges made a decision far more moral and ethical than the District Court. However, good intentions often make bad law. By avoiding ruling on the crux of McGowan’s complaint, that Narita’s remarks were, in fact, a form of illegal discrimination, the more fundamental issue remains unaddressed. Namely, whether or not the McGowan case constitutes racial discrimination in a written, legal sense, as opposed to unwritten “social norms” where determination about their violation, and authority for their punishment, is controlled by the whims of a few judges.

The McGowan ruling simply reinforces the importance of having a national, written, easily understandable law banning racial discrimination, a point made by a range of people from McGowan, to 77 human rights groups, to the United Nations itself. As of this writing, it appears unlikely that McGowan will appeal to the Supreme Court to push for a clear ruling on the question of racial discrimination. Many of his supporters pushing for a national law banning discrimination don’t appear to be eager to take his case further and are, rather, content to let McGowan remain a symbol of the need for such a law. In the meantime, the basic question about what constitutes racial discrimination in Japan and what does not remains unanswered.
——————–ARTICLE ENDS—————————-


Agreed. As I argued in my Japan Times article of Feb 7, 2006
the previous Osaka District Court ruling was made by a cracked judge. He established (deliberately or inadvertently) a precedent which would effectively deny any foreigner his right to sue for racial discrimination in Japan. Fortunately, this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, but lowers the market value for suing for this kind of thing (it was 1 to 1.5 million yen; McGowan’s award of 350,000 yen, or about $3500 US, won’t even cover his legal fees!) while ignoring even the existence of racial discrimination

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if McGowan did not appeal. Just goes to show that if you want to win one of these things, you’d better have a completely watertight case. Default mode for Japanese judges is siding with the alleged perpetrator.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Send best wishes to him at



2-Channel, the world’s largest online BBS, and a hotbed for freedom of speech gone wild to the point of libel, is facing hard times. With owner and administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki refusing to even show up in court, let alone pay court-awarded damages for libel (see my court win against him at, he’s apparently dangerously close to declaring bankruptcy, even disappearing from society altogether. Ryann Connell translates an article for the Mainichi. Excerpt follows:

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-
Operator of notorious bulletin board lost in cyber space

…Nishimura has been reported by Japan’s tabloid media as “missing” — with the strong implication that he’d run away from massive debts brought on by a huge number of lost lawsuits that he consistently refused to contest by showing up in court. But the women’s weekly says it has managed to track him down and find out about the rumors of his disappearance.

“I’m just hanging out like I always do,” Nishimura tells AERA with a blog posting that serves as answers to its e-mailed questions.

Nishimura defends his decision not to contest the myriad of lawsuits filed against Ni-Chaneru.

“I’ve been sued in the north as far as Hokkaido and the south as far as Okinawa. It’s simply not possible to attend every court case where I’ve been named as a defendant. I figure if I can defend myself in every case, it’s exactly the same as not turning up in my defense,” he tells the weekly indirectly.

[ED’S NOTE: Huh???]

Nishimura also strongly denies suggestions that he’s gone bankrupt, which many have speculated may be the main reason nobody seems able to find him now….

The plaintiff took the drastic step because Ni-Chaneru has consistently refused to pay up when courts have declared it a loser in court cases. It has already been ordered to fork out more than 20 million yen over lost lawsuits.

“If they put the Ni-Chaneru domain up for auction, it’d reap tens of millions of yen for sure… There’s bound to be a company out there that would buy it.”
—————–EXCERPT ENDS————————–
Rest at

QUICK COMMENT: I’m beginning to think that Nishimura’s pathological aversion to responsibility has nothing to do with his self-proclaimed role as a guardian of Japan’s freedom of speech ( More as the story unfolds. Thanks to Mark as always for keeping me informed.



I have reported on police random ID checks of foreign-looking people (justified by the authorities as a means to curb illegal aliens, terrorism, and infectious diseases) at length in the past. Cycling, walking, appearing in public, staying in a hotel, even living in a place for any amount of time while foreign have been grounds for spots ID Checks and police questioning in Japan. More at:

One of my pet theories is that Japan has a habit of “guinea-pigging the gaijin” with policy proposals. In essence, before you institute a new national policy, foist it on the foreigners–since they have fewer rights guaranteed them by law. Then propose a new-and-improved version for the nationals. It worked for increasing surveillance cameras for the general public (first Kabukichou, then onwards), and for undermining tenure with contract employment in tertiary education ( It didn’t work for universal ID cards (remember the moribund Juki-Net system?). Now the police are working on expanding their authority further, to include Japanese citizens in their random ID checks.

I’ve come to see Japan as a benign police state. Remember–this is the land of the prewar Kempeitai thought police, “katei houmon” home visits by school teachers (with the express aim to snoop on students’ lifestyles, see, and neighborhood watch systems still visible as the defanged “chounaikai”. Well, this new police putsch is receiving news coverage with advice. Excerpt follows:

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-

Police shakedowns on the rise
Original article appeared in Weekly Playboy (Oct. 16)
Translation appeared in The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006

Last January, I was rushing past the koban [police box] at the west exit of Shinjuku Station en route to a meeting and suddenly this cop halts me, saying, ‘Will you please submit to an inspection of what you’re carrying on your person?’ ” relates editor Toshikazu Shibuya (a pseudonym), age 38. “I happened to be carrying this Leatherman tool, a pair of scissors with a 3-cm-long folding knife attachment in the handle. The next thing I knew, he escorted me into the koban.”

Shibuya vociferously argued that he used the tool for trimming films and other work-related tasks. “There’s no need for that gadget, you can find something else,” the cop growled, confiscating it.

Several weeks later Shibuya was summoned to Shinjuku Police Station to undergo another round of interrogation. After an hour, he was let off with a stern warning that possession of such scissors was illegal, and made him liable to misdemeanor charges.

Weekly Playboy reports that police have been conducting these shakedowns of the citizenry as part of an “Emergency Public Safety Program” launched in August 2003. In 2004, the number of people actually prosecuted for weapons possession misdemeanors uncovered during these ad hoc inspections, referred to as shokumu shitsumon (ex-officio questioning), reached 5,648 cases, double the previous year, and up sixfold from 10 years ago.

“I think you can interpret it as an expansion of police powers,” says a source within the police. “They are taking advantage of citizens’ unfamiliarity with the law to conduct compulsory questioning.”

In principle, police are not empowered to halt citizens on the street arbitrarily. The Police Execution of Duties Law, Section 2, states that an officer may only request that a citizen submit to questioning based on reasonable judgment of probable cause, such as suspicious appearance or behavior.

Moreover, Weekly Playboy points out, compliance to such a request is voluntary, i.e., you have the right to refuse….

What should you do if you’re stopped? Weekly Playboy offers several suggestions, including recording the conversation and carrying a copy of the relevant passage of the law to show you know your rights. Since cooperation is voluntary, you can refuse; but an uncooperative attitude might be regarded with suspicion. Raising a ruckus in a loud voice might cause a crowd to gather and convince the cop you’re more trouble than it’s worth….
—————–EXCERPT ENDS————————–
Rest at

Hm. Good advice. Exactly the advice I’ve been giving for close to a decade now on, as a matter of fact. See
But I wouldn’t recommend you raising a ruckus if you’re a foreigner. I’ve heard several cases of people (foreigners in particular) being apprehended and incarcerated for not “cooperating” enough with police, so beware. Point is it’s getting harder to argue racial profiling when Japanese are also being stopped and questioned. However, the difference is that the article’s advice doesn’t apply as well to foreigners–all the cop has to do is say he’s conducting a Gaijin Card search and you’re nicked.

Enjoy life in Japan. Keep your nose clean and short.

Finally, put last because this is the most personal part of the newsletter…


This was my second excursion abroad to talk about issues in Japan (last March was the first, at U Michigan Ann Arbor, NYU, Columbia Law et al), and on this eighteen-day journey I gave a total of seven presentations (two of them papers), at Temple University Japan, Tokyo University, Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, Canada), University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies. You can see what I said where on this trip, along with other links to older speeches, powerpoint presentations and papers (now totalling 100 since 1995) at
They all went really quite smoothly–well-attended, full of questions and comments, accompanied by great hospitality from all my hosts (and I had hosts and places to stay in every port of call; thanks forthcoming to them individually).

Of particular note was the atmosphere at the Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC) annual meeting in Kamloops. Despite some initial trepidation, people turned out to be welcoming of an activist (I guess it made a difference from often bone-dry academia); I sold more books there (more than thirty) than ever before. Also, in addition to presentations on “communities within communities in Japan (my aegis), JSAC hosted sections on demography and future welfare, education, security issues, history, and artsy-fartsy stuff. It was enjoyable to coast between presentations and feel the different atmospheres depending on disciplines: Luddite handouts and OHPs with the “continuous-retread touchy-feeley” cultural studies, cloak-and-dagger “what if” theories of the security hawks (North Korea, after all, had just been confirmed as nuclear), and the “See I’m telling you so! Here comes the brick wall” portentous presentations of the demographers. Kudos to friend (and host) Joe Dobson and company for putting this thing on.

The best part of JSAC for me was the fact that the Canadian Ambassador of Japan, Joseph Caron, not only put in an appearance–he stayed two nights and even chaired two sessions at the conference! (Imagine the American Ambassador doing that!) Ambassador Caron proved himself a true gentleman at our farewell dinner, where I got to ask a question and got an impressive answer. But first a segue for context:


When I first arrived in Vancouver on October 8, I was met by Murray Wood, his partner Brett, and two cameramen. They were all here to film a documentary on the Murray Wood Case, a cause celebre gathering steam in Canada as a major human rights case.

I have mentioned this case briefly in previous newsletters, but let me synopsize again: The Murray Wood Case started when Murray and Ayako Maniwa met, married, and had two children. A former flight attendant at Air Canada, Ayako was by all accounts (Murray’s family was most open with their criticisms as we enjoyed Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in front of the cameras) unconcerned with the welfare of her children–so much so that even the Supreme Court in British Columbia awarded Murray custody of their kids after they split up. However, Ayako, under a ruse to visit her family in Saitama, abducted the children and severed all contact with their father. This is not a matter of he-said she-said: The Canadian police have a warrant out for her arrest if she ever comes to Canada again.

Given Japan’s unenforcable or nonexistent child-custody and visitation laws after divorce, and the dubious honor of being the only G7 country not to sign the Hague Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan has become a safe haven for international abductions. However, what makes this case interesting is that Murray actually tried to work through Japan’s judicial system to get custody back. However, Saitama’s Family District and High Courts were unaccommodating. They ignored Canadian court judgments in their entirety and awarded Ayako custody–essentially because a) the children should not be uprooted from their present surroundings, and b) “fairness”. Judges claimed in their ruling (which I read but cannot provide a link to at this time) that Ayako had not said her piece in Canadian court (she never showed up to give it); but since she appeared in Japanese court, the judges ruled that their opinion (in her favor) more adequately reflected both sides! The Government of Canada is not happy with this outcome, and Murray has gotten a lot of press across Canada. As so he should. More substantiation on all these claims from
Murray Wood reachable at

The case has garnered enough attention for two cameramen, one named David Hearn (reachable at, to come all the way from Los Angeles and Tokyo to film it. Over the course of three days, they interviewed more than a dozen people of authority, family members, and friends (even me) on what happened and what this meant to them. We have a good feeling about what got captured on video, and I’ll keep you posted on any developments. In the age of the powerful documentary, this could be a good thing indeed.

————————–SEGUE ENDS—————————–

Back to JSAC’s final dinner with Ambassador Caron speaking. The Consul General of Japan at Vancouver and his staff were there (I happened to be seated next to Consul Assistant Keith Fedoruk, a rather chinless local hire, and we talked, however briefly and uncomfortably, about the Otaru Onsens Case and racial discrimination in Japan. He said, “Can’t you use your language abilities and position as a citizen in Japan more constructively?” as he broke off conversation.) It was clear that people wanted things to remain nicely, nicely. Perfect timing for one of my questions. Something like:

“Thank you Ambassador Caron. As you know, it is my job to raise the difficult issues, so let me not act out of character. The Consul General mentioned in his earlier speech tonight about the communality between Canada with the high regard for human rights and the rule of law. I would like to raise the issue about the Murray Wood Case. Given that this case involves Canadian court decisions ignored to deny custody to Canadian citizens, I would like to know if your office will continue to pursue this. Your government has been very publicly supportive or human rights. Your predecessor, Ambassador Edwards, kindly gave us a strong letter of support during the Otaru Onsens Case. Child abductions after divorce are a serious problem which affects the rights of both of your countries’ citizens. What will you do in future to promote human rights between your countries?”

Yes, it was a long question, and I had no time to develop Murray’s Case. I expected a standard answer of “We know nothing. We’ll look into it.” But no!

Ambassador Caron actually knew Murray’s case, and even took time to describe it in more detail to the audience! He mentioned how important he considered it in particular and the issue in general, and he said that he would continue pushing Japan to sign the Hague Convention!

Breathtaking. When the party ended, chinless wonder sitting next to me (who had earlier agreed to at least show my donated J and E JAPANESE ONLY books to the Consul General for consideration for the Vancouver Japan Consulate library) simply walked away, leaving the books behind on the dinner table. Bit of a shock, but again, not out of character. I sold them later that night anyway. Ambassador Caron (who also knew the Onsens Case) gladly took a copy as well.

Let’s hope the Murray Wood Case continues to build up steam, since like the Otaru Onsens Case, it’s a watertight representation of a problem with all other alternatives at resolution exhausted.


Lots more happened during this trip, but that was the highlight which is germane to this newsletter. If you want me to spin a few stories for the Friends’ email List (I still haven’t written out what happened on last March’s World Tour I), let me know at Always helpful to know if people out there are enjoying what they read.

Enough for now. I hear my plane back to Sapporo revving its engines.

Arudou Debito
Narita, Japan
October 22, 2006

NB: If you wish to receive updates in real time on important issues and articles, you can view and/or subscribe to my blog at Newsletters will necessarily lag as they collate important information for the general public and media.


Mainichi Oct 10 06: BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura still on the lam


(Article courtesy M. Update on 2-Channel lawsuit and Defendant Nishimura’s continuing lam. More on this issue at –Arudou Debito in Vancouver)

Operator of notorious bulletin board lost in cyber space
Mainichi Daily News, Oct 10, 2006

All sorts of mail is bulging out of the postbox, but the thick wads of legal
letters stand out. A peep inside through the windows of the Tokyo apartment
provides no hint that anybody has lived inside for a while.

It’s the home of Hiroyuki Nishimura, the 29-year-old webmaster of
Ni-Chaneru, the huge bulletin board that is arguably the Japanese language
Internet’s most popular — and most notorious — site.

Nishimura has been reported by Japan’s tabloid media as “missing” — with
the strong implication that he’d run away from massive debts brought on by a
huge number of lost lawsuits that he consistently refused to contest by
showing up in court. But the women’s weekly says it has managed to track him
down and find out about the rumors of his disappearance.

“I’m just hanging out like I always do,” Nishimura tells AERA with a blog
posting that serves as answers to its e-mailed questions.

Nishimura defends his decision not to contest the myriad of lawsuits filed
against Ni-Chaneru.

“I’ve been sued in the north as far as Hokkaido and the south as far as
Okinawa. It’s simply not possible to attend every court case where I’ve been
named as a defendant. I figure if I can defend myself in every case, it’s
exactly the same as not turning up in my defense,” he tells the weekly


Nishimura also strongly denies suggestions that he’s gone bankrupt, which
many have speculated may be the main reason nobody seems able to find him

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he writes when questioned about
his financial state.

AERA, however, begs to disagree. It says that Nishimura, as Ni-Chaneru’s
administrator, was sued in May by a man claiming to have been defamed on the
bulletin board by postings listing his name and accusing him of molestation
and bankruptcy. The man was seeking to have Nishimura release details of
those who had posted the messages on the site. Nishimura did not turn up in
court for the case, nor did he accept the injunction ordering him to make
the information available.

“I asked the court to impose a fine of 50,000 yen for every day he failed to
comply and it did. He already owes more than 2 million yen,” the plaintiff
tells AERA. “Because he hasn’t paid that, I applied to have him declared

Unlike companies, which are regularly shut down by creditors, it’s rare for
a creditor to bring about an individual’s bankruptcy. But Nishimura now
faces the prospect of a receiver being appointed to look into his financial
affairs and selling off whatever he has to repay what he owes, according to
the weekly.

The plaintiff took the drastic step because Ni-Chaneru has consistently
refused to pay up when courts have declared it a loser in court cases. It
has already been ordered to fork out more than 20 million yen over lost

“If they put the Ni-Chaneru domain up for auction, it’d reap tens of
millions of yen for sure,” the man tells AERA. “There’s bound to be a
company out there that would buy it.”

It’s still unsure whether the court will order a receiver be appointed to
oversee Nishimura’s finances. Surely, he wouldn’t be able to ignore the
courts again if that happened? Others who’ve won court cases against him
aren’t so sure.

“We tried everything from property seizures to forced execution of rulings,
but we could get no more than 2 million yen,” says a spokesman from DHC, a
cosmetic company awarded 7 million yen in a court battle with Nishimura.
“We’d welcome the chance to get more if bankruptcy proceedings go ahead, but
have our doubts about whether this will really happen.”

A lawyer involved in a number of Ni-Chaneru-related lawsuits says that the
current attack on Nishimura is nothing new.

“People have suggested bankruptcy proceedings before,” the lawyer says. “The
issue revolves around whether the court will recognize him as bankrupt with
debts of only a few million yen. It might be different if everybody who’s
won court cases against him joined forces and fought together.”

Even then it’s no certainty — Ni-Chaneru’s revenue is all controlled
completely by a separate advertising company, making the bulletin board’s
accounts something of a black hole.

“If the receiver can get their hands on that,” the plaintiff tells AERA,
“everything will become totally clear.” (By Ryann Connell)

October 10, 2006

More on this issue at

Temple U Prof: “Japan’s Criminal Libel Laws vital for police intervention and arrest” (???)


Here’s something I don’t quite understand: A Temple University professor is publishing a paper in the University of Colorado Law Review asserting that, quote, “In Japan, however, criminal libel laws have become vital tools in policing injurious speech on the Internet. Defamatory posts lead to police intervention and even arrest.”

Not according to the 2-Channel Lawsuit, which I think proves Dr Mehra’s assertions quite inaccurate. I haven’t read the entire paper (I don’t have it), but the abstract is enclosed below. If he is aware of our case (it came down last January, and we offered an update in September), not to mention the many others cases successful against 2-Channel BBS, yet to this day unpaid and unprosecuted, how can he assert this?

I have contacted Dr Mehra, Temple University, and the University of Colorado Law Review. I hope Dr Mehra can reply with a clarification.

Arudou Debito, Plaintiff, 2-Channel Lawsuit
Full documentation on the case in two languages at

Dr Mehra’s Abstract: (Courtesy
Post a Message and Go to Jail: Criminalizing Internet Libel in Japan and the United States

Temple University – James E. Beasley School of Law
University of Colorado Law Review, Forthcoming

In the United States, criminal libel is, to paraphrase Ross Perot, the crazy aunt we keep in the basement. American law professors write about it to denounce the continued existence of rarely enforced criminal libel statutes. In Japan, however, criminal libel laws have become vital tools in policing injurious speech on the Internet. Defamatory posts lead to police intervention and even arrest. Because the United States is considering regulation of online speech, including, potentially, criminal penalties, we can learn from the experience of Japan. From a positive perspective, this Article explains why Japan would apply such laws to the Internet. From a normative perspective, the Article addresses why criminal libel is not a good choice for Japan. Finally, from a comparative law perspective, this Article also discusses why criminalizing online libel would be an even worse choice for the United States than Japan.

Keywords: Defamation, libel, cyberlaw, criminal, private ordering, social norms, Internet, police


Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan–Cannot understand Dr Mehra’s argument
Date: October 1, 2006 2:14:14 AM JST

Mr. Debito,

Thanks for your input.

Respectfully, I think you are misreading the sentence you quote.

The point is not that defamatory posts “always” or “universally” lead to police intervention and even arrest. Similarly, I do not say that “ALL 2Channel” defamatory posts lead to police arrest. The point is that THERE ARE reported cases where defamatory posts DO lead ot police intervention and even arrest. I cite these reports and statistics within the paper; they are also publicly available.

I think you are having a problem of perspective. In other developed countries, such as the US and the EU nations, criminal libel is completely dead. For example, in America, nobody gets arrested for criminal libel, Internet-based or otherwise. The divergence of the Japanese experience is interesting. That is the point of the article, and that is why it is aimed at a Western audience.

For an unsatisfied plaintiff such as yourself, enforcement probably looks half-empty of consequences. For someone from a background where libel is no longer a criminal matter, it looks decidedly half-full.

Best regards,
Salil Mehra

Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan–Cannot understand Dr Mehra’s argument
Date: October 1, 2006 9:17:52 AM JST

Good morning from Sapporo, Japan, Dr Mehra, and thank you very much indeed for your answer!

I am admittedly not a specialist in this topic, as you are of course, and I would indeed be happy to be corrected.

However, in my cursory study of the subject for use in my own case, I’ve not heard of a single case of Internet libel resulting in criminal arrest. If there was a procedure in place (to enforce contempt of court through the police, for example), I’m sure I could have implemented it in my case (and in all those other court victories against 2-Channel which still remain unenforced and unpaid). 2-Channel owner and administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki, as you know, continues to speak, write, and publish without any serious repercussions, let alone arrest. Given that this is Japan’s largest BBS (the world’s actually), employing every existent legal loophole possible in Japanese law, this appears a stark and seriously undermining exception to your assertions (in your abstract, anyway) regarding criminalization of Internet libel.

I’m not sure if your paper is available yet, but please may I read it? I would like to see the reports and statistics publicly available as well. Do you cite our 2-Channel case?

Again, thank you very much for your answer, Dr Mehra. The reason I even heard about your report was because of a student who contacted me to ask why my lawyers hadn’t contacted the police and had them enforce our court decision. I replied that I’m sure my lawyers, being professionals, had thought of that, and knew that it was meaningless–which means the information on the ground over here in Japan seems to contradict your paper’s thesis. If I am in any way misreading it, I would enjoy the correction, as I would certainly like to have Nishimura arrested, the court award paid, the offender’s IP address released, and all the libelous statements (which remain online to this day, proliferating) deleted, as per the court decision.

Sincerely yours, Arudou Debito
(Arudou is my last name, and if you had heard of me and our case, you might have known that.)
Sapporo, Japan

NO IMMEDIATE ANSWER FROM DR MEHRA. (he answers later at the very bottom)

In regards to the concepts discussed, I believe there may be a misunderstanding regarding the meaning of enforcement of criminal libel. You had an successful experience in winning a civil libel suit brought by a plaintiff (yourself) but have had difficulty in seeing enforcement of that civil judgment against the defendant.

Criminal libel, on the other hand, can only by handed by the police and by a public prosecutor in a very similar way to a crime of theft. The most a citizen can do is to point it out and ask them to investigate (just like for any suspected crime). The result might be that the case is dropped or, if it goes to trial, the defendant might get a prison sentence, have to pay a fine, or have his sentence declared to have been met by the prison time he has already endured (after arrest).

Essentially, these are two completely separate and non-exclusive avenues towards addressing libelous speech (one initiated by a citizen and another initiated by the government). The police never have anything to do with a civil case unless the plaintiff can get them to enforce a judgment against a deliquent defendant. My understanding is that criminal libel cases are still rare, but the fact that there are some is a marked difference from the United States.



Yes, quite. I appreciate very much the clarification. I wished that Dr Mehra could have been bothered to explain that to me, or better yet send me a copy of his paper (or at least explain why he cannot) so I can see exactly what information the thesis is based upon.

Instead, I got from him what I felt to be a half-baked response about glasses being half-full, and the insinuation that I was just a sore loser with a limited, unimportant experience. I do not like incorrect information being perpetuated about Japan in US academia (lordy knows, I’ve seen enough of it over the years!), and Dr Mehra’s response struck me as diffident and irresponsible.

I have not invested more than a year and 360,000 yen in this case (so far) just to be told by an overseas academic (who seems so unfamiliar with the case that he gets the Plaintiff’s name wrong), when it seems that evidence contrary to his thesis is dismissable as a problem with the Plaintiff’s perspective!

I have done plenty to bring this case to the fore, including putting all original documentation and commentary in two languages online to show how Internet libel goes unpunished in Japan. When a thesis states exactly the opposite without any mitigators, I would like to know how that conclusion was arrived at. Here’s hoping that Dr Mehta will kindly share his research with a person who would like to know more. –Arudou Debito, October 2, 2006.


Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan
Date: October 3, 2006 1:00:51 AM JST

Hello Prof. Debito,

The full text of the paper is available at the link below.

There have been a number of cases involving arrest due to online libel in Japan. Probably the most famous (in the sense that it got news coverage) involved an individual in Kochi who was arrested in 2003 after maligning a local politician on a local government message board.

I had heard of your case. If I understand correctly, I think it is a civil case and not a criminal case and that you are pursuing the Nishimura, the founder of 2-Channel because he provides a forum where you are defamed. Also, if I understand correctly, you are not alleging that Nishimura himself makes defamatory statements against you. Based on Criminal Code 230 and the Internet Service Providers Law in Japan, he probably escapes criminal liability because there is no “contributory criminal libel” and because the ISP law may limit 2Channel’s exposure since, like an ISP, it does not actually have prior knowledge of what participants will post.

Also, if I understand correctly, you have a civil judgment in your favor which Nishimura ignores. You may already know that there is a debate about how weak Japanese judges’ injunctive power is — weak or very weak.

Best regards,
Salil Mehra


Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan
Date: October 3, 2006 1:08:45 AM JST

Hello Dr Mehra. Thank you very much for your response, and for clarifying your point. I will enjoy reading your paper and look forward to learning something, which I hope will help me bring Nishimura to bear for the forbearance he’s shown for years now regarding online libel. With best wishes, Arudou Debito in Sapporo








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