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

A couple interesting articles on the building discontent with 2ch and its founder’s scofflaw ways. Debito has the articles full-text in Japanese only on his awesome new blog (such discrimination!) but I have decided to translate them (not verbatim but true to the original, as usual) for the discerning English-reading public. BTW, I’ll only have really nice things to say about 2ch in the future:


2-Channel in a state of lawlessness – Attacks on individuals left on the site

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

hiroyuki 061105sha20061105001_MDE00430G061104T.jpg“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 Arudo (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 Aldwinkle” (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. Arudo 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.

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:

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 (kyosei shikko) 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…”

Comment: First off, it’s sweet that ZAKZAK has a separate team dedicated to 2ch stories. Second, in Debito’s writings on his case against Hiroyuki, he made it sound like it was impossible to collect. Have they tried this tactic suggested by a legal scholar prominent enough to have his own entry in JDIC?

13 thoughts on “Don’t mess with 2ch: ZAKZAK, Sankei Sports report”

  1. No attempt to grab the IP address of the poster with a warrant? Interesting that the party in ownership of the site gets penalized.

    I guess he just needs to incorporate in Sweden and get servers there.

  2. The false statements are still on the Internet in thousands of posts.

    That is incorrect, I believe, or at least a stretching of the truth! After Debito (is he really a professor now?) wrote about it in his blog, I did a search of Google and found that although thousands of instances were reported, Google stopped after 25 saying that all the rest were very similar to the first lot (and some of that first lot were false hits) – it’s just like this blog post will appear in Google at the URL above, in your archives for the 8th, November, the five categories you posted it under, RSS feed, etc.

    I remember when Debito first announced winning the case, he mentioned the terms of the libel very clearly a few times, and I thought it was a bit strange doing that – perhaps that was his strategy, to get it spread across the net more to make it look worse?

    (Oh, and I wish he would make his URLs active – you can get a WP plugin that does that?)

  3. Thing with 2ch is they actually cooperate with the police when someone posts that they’re going to commit a crime. And apparently they do respond and delete some harmful posts. It’s just not very thorough, and Hiroyuki is convinced he doesn’t have to cooperate with the courts. In cases of simple libel I don’t think Hiroyuki is in the practice of outing posters, only when there is real danger of crimes being committed.

    As for Debito’s site, any formatting other than his Usenet style would be appreciated. And yes, Debito is a tenured professor.

  4. “is he really a professor now?”

    Adamu may have some info that I don’t, but according to David’s university’s website he is an associate professor. Now, I understand that in North America there is a convention of calling basically anyone who teaches at University a ‘college professor’, but I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. I would stop short of using the term (at least in the non-American context that I understand) in David’s case for a few reasons.

    Firstly, the requirements for AP position in smaller Japanese universities are much lower than elsewhere – they are about the level of senior lecturer in universities that I am familiar with.

    Secondly, and again according to the university website*, David seems to teach only English. While it is of course possible for language educators to become professors, it would be highly improbable that they would do so without publishing some sort of academic study in the fields of linguistics or language training. As far as I know David’s qualifications are in international relations and aside from one article on the JET programme published in his department’s in-house journal and a textbook on business English (textbooks aren’t considered ‘academic’ work at universities with reputable criteria for tenure) he hasn’t published anything to make me believe he would earn the rank of associate professor.

    Of course, if you are defining him as a ‘college professor’ in the American sense of the word, that’s not so bad, but he is not a full professor even by the shonky criteria laid out by his own employer. I suppose though, that if his university is silly enough to give him the rank of associate professor, you can’t really blame him for exploiting it for all it’s worth.

    I just find it a bit disconcerting because when you’re in the business of academia, you know that the work of an AP or a full prof is likely to be based on very very sound methodology and vast amounts of research. David’s isn’t.

    *I won’t link to David’s university’s website. David seems to avoid mentioning his university’s name on his own page, and I can respect that. If you read Japanese, it’s easy enough to find, though.

  5. The article calls him “kyoju” so that was enough for me in terms of the translation. Debito himself claims he is a “tenured associate professor” on the front page of his website, and again I’m not one to quibble. The issue of tenuring foreign professors is one of Debito’s biggest issues to the extent that he maintains a blacklist of schools that only offer foreign teachers contract positions.

  6. As one who is in the process of working towards a career in higher education, and thus as one who would like to see standards maintained, I am one to quibble.

    The criteria for a university appearing on that blacklist in often risible. In many cases, the contracting of scholars for work that amounts to language teaching is seen as grounds for blacklisting, yet this is pretty much standard practice everywhere, especially in the case of staff that do not yet have PhDs. It would be highly irregular for a western university to promote a non doctorate-holder to the rank of even associate professorship, another reason why we shouldn’t take David’s ‘professorship’ seriously. Just because he got into the system when things were relatively easy for English teachers in Japan, it doesn’t mena that those who come afterwards should have the same sweet deal.

    Another reason why I tend not trust his blacklist, is that I know of instances where some of his blacklisted universities have hired foreign academics (not English teachers) for tenure track positions. It seems to me that a lot of his villians are in fact normal employers that hire on discretion. It’s a shame, because there probably is racial discrimination in the academic world in Japan, but by including English teachers who are miffed about getting contract work in his analysis, David really does weaken his case.

  7. I know that he has (or had) Ritsumeikan University in his blacklist, but there are actually a number of foreign full professors here. Their APU (Asia Pacific University) school even has a Sri Lankan professor as president. The thing is, language teaching simply is not a tenure track position, and the rules were the same for the Japanese women that taught me Japanese when I was an exchange student as it is for the English teachers. Of course there are professors in linguistics, or literature or whatever who ALSO teach language, but you can’t be a professor if that is your only field.

  8. Precisely, MF. There are many such cases in both public and private universities. for those who doesn’t believe me, go to the Hill of Tara in Kyoto on a Friday night. You’ll probably find a few.

    “Of course there are professors in linguistics, or literature or whatever who ALSO teach language, but you can’t be a professor if that is your only field.”

    Any idea then why David considered good enough to be an associate professor when he is only an English teacher? Is it merely that he got on the gravy train early enough?

    and to explain myself: “the contracting of scholars for work that amounts to language teaching”
    Of course, here I meant “contracting”, in the sense that the job is not secure, as in NOT tenure track.

  9. Thanks guys for the enlightening info regarding professorship and tenure!

    Agreed about the lack of research – my pet hate is his constant insistance that “Japanese Only” signs are proliferating, with the only evidence being that his Rogues Gallery is constantly growing.

    That, and “putsch”.

  10. Yes, the rogues gallery is certainly a problem that I have had with Mr. Aldwinckle’s “exposition” of racism in Japan. I don’t think he’s being dishonest about his data, I think he just doesn’t understand that the discovery of a bunch of pictures after his Ôtaru onsen experience does not mean that anti-foreigner signs are “spreading”. Also, the fact that he actively solicited these signs and found less than 30 (many of which do not ban foreigners outright, by the way) doesn’t indicate to me that this is such a big problem in Japan, although I know this first hand anyway, having lived there. Sure these signs obviously exist, he’s right in claiming that they suck big time and if he wants to battle these things out in court, more power to him, but he doesn’t help his case by using shonky data. Any ‘professor’ should know better.

    I could go on about his other ‘findings’ but I’ll stop there.


  11. Why do none of these verdict winners use the courts to go after the domain name itself. Unlike Nishimura’s assets, the domain name is controlled by a well known organization which would respond to a court order. The domain name has value, certainly enough to pay off everyone who has won a court verdict but cannot collect. The domain name is probably the only thing Nishimura cares about, so a direct attack against it would certainly draw his attention and would probably result in immediate removal of the posts and payment of money he owes. (As well as better behavior in the future.) Even if the Japanese courts wont do this, his domain is registered with a US registrar and his ISP is also in the US. It may take time, but it could be possible to get a US court to recognize the Japanese court orders. There is a large history of such working in the US, and a well known effective legal process, so why not take advantage of that? Gotta use internet strategies in the internet age!

Comments are closed.