Japanese police are starting to crack down on illegal translators, whom the industry claim costs Japan billions of dollars in lost potential revenue.
Back in February, the police departments in Kyoto, Yamaguchi, Shizuoka, Mie, and Shimane prefectures put together a task force to arrest five Chinese nationals who were part of a piracy ring. The suspects are in their 20s and are believed to have illegally translated over 15,000 manga and games, which were later distributed on Weibo.
The team was active from 2015 to 2018. Some of the pirated works included Kimi ni Todoke, Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, Yuchi Ochimura ni Ojo-sama!, and a crossover story between Maid Sama! and Yuki wa Jigoku ni Ochiru no ka?
Japanese police made a similarly large arrest last November, which involved nine Japanese nationals. Those arrests led to the closure of Haruka Yume no Ato, which was one of largest Japanese leech sites that linked to various pirated manga.
Piracy has seen a big uptick in Japan, which the Agency for Cultural Affairs claim led to a loss of 3.8 trillion yen ($35 billion) in a 2013 inquiry. In comparison, the anime industry made a record 2 trillion yen ($17.5 billion) in 2016.
Japanese publishers have routinely sent Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices, they have rarely led to pirated sites shutting down. Now, they are turning towards arresting pirates within Japanese borders. Suspects that are found guilty face up to 10 years in jail, $90,000 worth of fines, and additional civil lawsuits from publishers or creators.
The primary targets of enforcement are Chinese piracy rings that are set up in Japan. Even if a pirate site is based in China, the goal is to hurt them by arrested their translators, which are often times college students with access to the Japanese versions.