In the aftermath of the <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/03/national/media-national/shibuyas-halloween-havoc-may-tarnish-future-festivities/">Halloween celebrations in Shibuya and the chaos that ensued as alcohol-fueled crowds used the opportunity to misbehave</a>, the Japanese media was overwhelmed with reports about misconduct, debauchery, and vandalism from online vigilantes who took it upon themselves to expose the Japanese citizens who had committed such disorderly acts.
Within this context, AbemaTV decided to hold a panel discussion on cybercrime and online vigilantism with current 4chan Administrator Hiroyuki Nishimura, Tokyo-based attorney Takahiro Karasawa, and two other guests. The panel quickly devolved into a back-and-forth between Nishimura and Karasawa, who, as viewers were about to find out, had a lot of bad blood between them as a result of a life ruination campaign by then-2channel (currently known as 5channel) users against the 40-year-old attorney. Despite the long online feud involving Nishimura and Karasawa as well as different lawsuits filed with Japanese courts, this was the first time they met face-to-face.
Consequently, the Shibuya incident was hardly discussed. Instead, Nishimura and Karasawa ended up sharing their thoughts on how to deal with online harassment and libel based on the personal experiences of Nishimura as former 2channel Administrator and Karasawa as a lawyer and a victim of doxing, stalking, and real-life wrongdoing. As expected, the two panelists had very different takes on the subject.
According to Karasawa and his interpretation of Japanese law, the service provider is partially responsible for any posts that constitute libel against someone and put a targeted individual in harm's way. As such, in 2012, his law firm took up the case of a Japanese teenager who had become the target of 2channel users, filing a post takedown request with the textboard's administration while Nishimura was in charge. Soon thereafter, Karasawa's personal information was posted on 2channel and the attorney himself had to fend off his online assailants, who went so far as to mail him knives, desecrate his parent's gravesite, and send bomb threats in his name as part of a bizarre tongue-in-cheek off-shoot of the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
Naturally, Nishimura disavowed and claimed he had no idea this ever happened since, according to him, he didn't read his email at the time and there were around three million posts a day on 2channel. In general, Nishimura explained that he prefers not to read posts or take any action with regard to them. He personally mentioned that he enjoys so-called flame wars or other such discussions on his textboards as they bring activity and he has no intention of interfering with them. When confronted with the legal implications of law-breaking posts, he repeatedly stated that any poster making such posts should simply be arrested by authorities, no matter how many of them would be affected. He claims these arrests would be a necessary gain for society and discourage others from doing the same. However, some might interpret this stance as enabling such activity on his website as long as it benefits him and then having all posters arrested after they create law-breaking posts – this could be called, in online parlance, a honeypot.
It seems Nishimura does not care much about free speech, but rather traffic at all costs, consequences be damned. 2channel has already put him in legal jeopardy in Japan several times, including when he was infamously ousted in 2015. Only time will tell whether history will repeat itself now that he is in charge of 4chan.