Japan - privacy and security?

Linode finally has a datacenter in Tokyo!

Question: Is anyone here familiar with the free speech and privacy situation in Japan?

In other words, if I host my sites in Tokyo, should I be worried about anything that I normally wouldn't worry about if I hosted in other locations? Being shut down for offending the royal family? Not getting the safe harbor protection when a user violates copyright or defames someone else? Wiretapping without warrants? Mandatory data retention periods? Any insecure Sony products in the vicinity of Linode servers?

I absolutely don't want this thread to become a flame war comparing the "EVIL USA" with other countries. But I am genuinely curious about Japanese attitudes on online speech and how it might affect sites that are hosted on Japanese soil. Japan is a country that we usually consider part of the "first world", but they also seem to maintain a lot of traditional practices like the rest of East Asia. Their free speech and privacy laws might reflect some of that.

11 Replies

AFAIK, freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Japanese constitution and they have very strict privacy laws. Attitudes towards censorship in Japan are very different from China.

Perhaps you should read up on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constituti … ual_rights">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ConstitutionofJapan#Individual_rights


AFAIK, freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Japanese constitution and they have very strict privacy laws. Attitudes towards censorship in Japan are very different from China.
The U.S. Constitution also guarantees freedom of speech, but that doesn't mean that people actually feel free to express certain opinions. Systematic harassment and discrimination can't be detected by referring to the Constitution alone. Or at least that's what some people think.

Japan's closest neighbor, South Korea, also has a democratic constitution that guarantees freedom of speech. It also claims to have strong privacy laws. But I've heard from quite a few South Koreans who believe that such laws are often applied in a way that is advantageous to some groups and not others, and Android developers initially had trouble selling their apps in South Korea due to strict game rating laws.

Obviously, Japan is neither China nor Korea. But it's not Sweden, either. Reporters Without Borders ranks Japan way above both UK and USA, and that's a good sign. But I'd still like to hear from people who are familiar with actual Japanese practices and cultural idiosyncrasies. (e.g. Why does all Japanese porn blur the genital area? Is that legally necessary? Should I be concerned if I run an image board?)

I'm not planning to host anything problematic in any Linode datacenter anytime soon, but I'm just curious.

Edit: add details.

The main issue I think you should worry about is the adult-based stuff - I think a lot of people here in Japan get websites outside of Japan if they want to host that kind of content, though for sure it does happen and get hosted here but it isn't really policed by anyone.

The laws define that images must be of an 'artistic' nature for them to be fully nude. Who classes what is artistic or not is completely in the eye of the beholder until some random court case. So that is the reason why most adult-based imagery is blurred out as it gets around the laws, otherwise there would be no adult stuff here at all.

Other thing to be aware of is anything to do with suicide (a very touchy subject here) - while it's not illegal, police monitor these types of sites due to kids posting where they are going to sadly off themselves but these sites are japanese sites, written in Japanese etc - I doubt you would have issues if it were in English but if you are reselling in japan, you need to be careful.

How friendly is Japan's legal system to foreigners using foreign hosting companies, vs. more, uh, domestic situations?

haha Japan's legal system isn't great - period, regardless of being a forienger or not. I'm not a legal expert so I can't comment officially but I don't think japan tends to push other countries to prosecute abroad but I'm sure that it does happen here internally in Japan.

Generally the Japanese internet is pretty unwatched I feel. Only once have I heard of major prosecution and that was from the file sharing service Winny (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winny). It was a bit like kazaa back in the day, but it was a situation a little bit like the pirate bay where other countries (mainly the US) pushed to prosecute them for file sharing music and films.

Apart from Winny I dont know of any other famous internet court stuff but my wife said that they do have some people getting sued for bitorrent.


Why does all Japanese porn blur the genital area?

I remember visiting a family friend in Tokyo, and right next to the coin-operated whiskey & beer vending machine on the street very near their house was a coin-operated pornography vending machine - no ID required for either. Don't know about the blurring.



Why does all Japanese porn blur the genital area?
Because Japanese people's private parts are made of really big pixels.


Because Japanese people's private parts are made of really big pixels.

I've done some research into this. I've yet to find really big pixels on either male or female subjects, although I have been delighted to find –-

Umm. Wrong forum.

So, how 'bout the Buffalo Bills? 2 and 0, both wins against previously-undefeated teams. Pretty crazy.

So if they have porn vending machines, perhaps the pixel porn is really their version of pg-13. :P

Too lazy to google that right now, but last thing I heard was that porn in itself is not illegal, but showing private parts is, so that's why.

as I said above, the reason is a difference between porn and art.


On a side note, did you know that due to most garbage is collected in one area depending on recycleable goods, some areas of Japan have porn bins to avoid people seeing the porn in the usual pile of paper ready for recycling.


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