When it comes to piracy, it seems the only crew Japan is willing to let run loose is the Straw Hats. Over the decades, manga and anime have been hit by growing piracy efforts, but Japan has been coming down hard on those illicit sites. And in the country’s latest operation, Japan launched a full-on global manhunt to catch one offender.
According to recent reports from NHK, Japan successfully arrested a well-known manga pirate named Romi Hoshino. The fugitive was a previous manager of the now-defunct site Manga-Mura. Hoshino was arrested in the Philippines after the Japanese native was taken into custody at an airport in Manila before he flew out to Hong Kong.
For those who do not know, Manga-Mura is one of the most notorious manga piracy sites to hit the Internet yet. The site was taken down last April, but it was frequented by 100 million visitors per month and hosted about 60,000 manga titles. This illegal content cost an estimated $2.93 billion in damages through copyright violations according to the Content Overseas Distribution Association. These figures led Japan to set up a global task force to find Hoshino, and their mission came to a close this week (via Kotaku).
Reports say Japan was determined to catch Hoshino after new details surfaced revealing the manager’s central role with Manga-Mura. After the website shut down, Hoshino appears to have made his way to Manila and was getting ready to flee to Hong Kong. However, the Japanese Embassy in Manila requested Hoshino being arrested, and the suspect is expected to be deported to Japan to face charges.
“We are in close coordination with our foreign counterparts who send us information about criminals who might be hiding in the Philippines,” the Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente was quoted as saying. “His presence in the country is a risk to public safety and security.”
While piracy for manga and anime is ongoing, Japan has beefed up measures to prevent domestic and international sites from illicitly sharing content. In the past, the editor of Weekly Shonen Jump Hiroyuki Nakano has commented on how these sites damage the industry, and he did not hold back when it came to its most troubling issues.
“I’m glad that people are reading our manga, but it's a big problem for the artists, and it doesn't pay for the cost of assistants, creating the manuscripts, and so on,” the editor explained. "If left unchecked, it could destroy manga culture. I think it's important to encourage people who read pirated versions to support the official release and to make the official release accessible.”
So, are you glad to see Japan cracking down on anime's rampant piracy issue? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!