In the West, Reddit says it's the front page of the internet. But in Japan, it's not. The internet in Japan is dominated by 2channel. It's where news—whether that's political or video game news—disseminates. It's the center of online culture. And apparently, drugs.
That's perhaps why today drug charges were brought against Hiroyuki Nishimura, 2ch's founder. According to Asahi, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police filed the necessary documents with the public prosecutor to make a case against Nishimura for aiding and abetting the violation of the country's narcotics law.
This year, the police have really began to put the screws on 2ch over the alleged sale of drugs through the bulletin board. There have been stories of coded lingo and online transactions, with "shiro" (white) referring to amphetamines and "yasai" (vegetables) referring to marijuana. There have also been arrests and drug rings.
The rub is that since 2010, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has said 2channel should delete online posts soliciting drugs. And 2ch hasn't exactly followed that advice.
"I created a free space, and what people did with it was up to them."
What's more, the Japanese police have had a hell of a time figuring out how to control 2ch and put the widely popular bulletin board under its thumb. That's why when investigations were launched against 2ch earlier this spring, when investigators searched ten different locations, trying to find servers. The servers, however, are supposedly located outside of Japan and have been moved from San Francisco to South America.
Nishimura founded 2ch in 1999, while still a student at University of Central Arkansas. "I created a free space, and what people did with it was up to them," Nishimura told Wired back in 2008. "No major corporations were offering anything like that, so I had to."
Since 2009, the site was apparently sold to a Singaporean company called "Packet Monster", which is its legal operator. That company, however, exists on paper only, The Daily Yomiuri reported earlier this year.
It sure seems like the Japanese police have it out for 2ch and Nishimura. One Japanese tech pundit said that Tateshi Higuchi, who became the Superintendent General of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police last year, believes that 2ch is a "den of iniquity", which has prompted the crackdown.
In Japan's internet culture, Nishimura is quite famous. He's not "Hiroyuki Nishimura", he's simply "Hiroyuki". Most savvy net users already know who he is. And now, so do the Tokyo Police.
２ちゃんねる創設者を書類送検 麻薬特例法違反の疑い [Yahoo! Japan]