|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
YouTube Web site has Japan's broadcasters in a tizzy 2006,07,01
Asahi 7/7 By Masuo Kamiyama
Since the end of last year, the number of Japanese Netizens visiting the "YouTube" site has gone through the roof.
According to Shibuya-based Net Ratings, a firm that tracks Internet utilization, visitors leaped from 200,000 a month in December 2005 to 4.1 million by May 2006.
That latter figure correspondents for 9.68 percent of Japan's Internet users.
Even more remarkably, the number of YouTube viewers in Japan, on a percentage basis, surpasses the 8.83 percent of visitors in the U.S.
"Considering that it's an English-language site, these figures are off the wall," Net Ratings President Masayuki Hagiwara tells Shukan Asahi (7/7).
Koichi Mizugami, who operates a site covering Internet trends called "All
YouTube was launched in February 2005 by three former employees of PayPal.
The site's "Broadcast Yourself" video contents are uploaded, and shared, between the users.
Contents originating from Japan run the gamut of clips of the very first "Doraemon" animated cartoon (about the misadventures of a blue robot cat) first broadcast back in 1979, to the 1985 knife murder of Toyota Shoji President Kazuo Nagano, a notorious swindler, who was slain on live TV by two self-professed members of a right-wing group, as several dozen Japanese reporters and photographers stood by and clinically recorded the action.
Another segment shows former AUM Supreme Truth "guru," and current death row inmate Shoko Asahara, appearing in a variety show on the NTV network, in which he told viewers he habitually washed his hair using baby shampoo.
This was the same man, mind you, who ordered his minions to release toxic nerve gas on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995.
But Shukan Asahi was surprised to see that some of the YouTube contents was quite current.
A video clip corresponding to one of the stories, carried on its pages just one week before, was being flaunted as "proof" that Liberal Democratic bigwig Shinzo Abe, the top contender to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as Japan's next prime minister this autumn, had sent a congratulatory cablegram to the Unification Church.
On another, er, note, YouTube viewers can also see, and hear, Larry King release gas from his posterior live on CNN.
The Japanese media, sensing its proprietary material is being illegally reproduced, appears to be swiftly abandoning its heretofore hands-off position toward YouTube.
NHK recently contacted the site's operators to demand that a video clip of the children's song "Supu no Ekaki Uta" that had been broadcast on May 30 installment of the "Okasan to Issho" TV show, be removed.
Indeed, a perusal of YouTube now displays the words "This video has been removed at the request of copyright owner Japan Broadcasting Corporation because its content was used without permission" in red letters, enclosed within a red border.
However, the same video soon popped up on a different site, and NHK has been forced to play a game of hideand-seek --- or perhaps blind man's bluff might be more descriptive --- with Web pirates.
"Piracy of web contents, both in Japan and abroad, has been increasing recently," an NHK spokesperson tells Shukan Asahi.
"NHK devotes time to confirming these violations one by one, and requests their removal.
Even if extra efforts are involved, we believe that it serves as a discreet means of preventing illegal use of program contents."
Japan's commercial channels are also becoming increasingly flustered by such purloining of images.
A spokesman for the NTV network tells the magazine it is determined to go after offenders, even those operating outside Japan.
"It's practically impossible to track down all copyright offenders," a spokesman for the Fuji TV network tells the magazine.
"Our hands are already full just with domestic violators."
One of Japan's top promoters of showbiz talent, Johnny's Jimusho, the office of Johnny Kitagawa, said it is mulling legal action to make sure its performer's rights are not infringed upon.
A spokesman for the agency said it was determined to "root out" YouTube and similarly predatory web sites.
Still, tracking down violators is in some ways akin to hunting for a needle in the proverbial haystack.
YouTube is said to receive some 35,000 new submissions per day.
If networks find it so annoying to see their lowbrow contents being recycled on the Web, perhaps the only solution will be for them to cease broadcasting it.
"Once, TV would broadcast a segment and that was the end of it," recalls a program director.
"But now things have come to the point that anybody can watch things anytime and anywhere.
This is creating a sense of alarm among the people on the production side and can be expected to impact on programming quality.
To discourage lowbrow piracy, it might be better for us to try to improve, even slightly, the type of programs we air on a daily basis." (By Masuo Kamiyama, People's Pick contributor)
July 1, 2006