Hi Blog. Here’s an excellent article on the Japanese internet, particularly 2-Channel and Nico Nico Douga. But as far as the Debito.org Blog is concerned, here is the pertinent section to excerpt:
WIRED MAGAZINE: 16.06
TECH BIZ : PEOPLE
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).
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.
8 comments on “Wired Magazine on 2-Channel’s Nishimura Hiroyuki”
This is a pretty immature post and really shows a misunderstanding of the tremendous cultural impact 2ch has made on Japan.
And I don’t think he lied at all, since you sued him and he clearly said in the article he ignored all such lawsuits and, I would assume, deletion mandates associated with them. If you were a little less greedy maybe people wouldn’t slag you so often on the internet anyway.
–Er… did you read his statement (excerpted above) that he follows deletion mandates? Quote: “‘If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,’ he says.”
As for my motivations (they certainly weren’t financial), read the case files.
2ch is far too entrenched and recognized as a cultural icon at this point for anything to happen. It’s like you winning a lawsuit against The Godfather and expecting him to pay up.
Is there really no mechanism for enforcing judgments to pay damages in Japan? Seems like that little loophole should have been closed by now.
–There really isn’t, if you can’t put a lien on the loser’s assets. Nishimura’s assets are not registered (it’s not a real, official company with bank accounts made clear by formal government registry), and he gets no clear salary from anyone, so all fifty lawsuit victors have to hire private detectives (on their own dime–the Japanese judiciary or police won’t do it) to try and track down his assets to seize. Read more up on the lawsuit hanketsu site. Debito
He doesn’t sound like a slacker or loser to me (although he should abide by the law and abide by all court decisions). More like someone who has used his unique skills to create a niche market for his website that in turn creates passive income for him so that he doesn’t have to worry about getting up to catch a packed commuter train every morning like everyone else.
–For the record, “slacker” was the Wired article’s description of him, not mine…
The part they glossed over is how that 2ch is the biggest cultural bastion of racism in the developed world. I don’t mind free expression, but the amount of bigoted crap on 2ch is the real reason why I would refuse to recognize it’s cultural impact.
Raicism is not the only crap 2ch withholds. Drug dealers and drug addicts are selling and buying their stuffs on 2ch board. Addition to that, in some threads, people were talking about brothels they favored which offered them child prostitutes in Southeast Asian countries. And there’s a thread in which users post whereabouts of child porn p2p files. Guns and blades are also sold without authority’s permissions. Totally crap I’d say.
This Wired reporter should have looked at 2ch more carefully with her own eyes.
Any chance of putting up anonymous slander of various members of Yamaguchi-gumi and their ilk on 2-channel? I’m sure they would have a way of closing Nishimura down without government intervention…
2channel is making sure to delete such posts at once. I heard it’s already tested more than a few times by anonymous volunteers.
I believe that the government sees 2ch as a necessary evil. It’s the most efficient tool to bring down their political enemies and force critics/bloggers to shut their mouths. There’s no proof though… but a few years ago, politicians who attacked the Prime Minister’s policy were all scandalized and lost their positions. The Prime Minister at that time was almost unnaturally popular, especially in among the Internet users.
–Nearly two and a half years since the verdict and I’m still waiting, and more than 1000 entries on the subject according to Google as of a moment ago. It’s not as though 2ch hasn’t had enough time to get to this…