Romi Hoshino, the manager of now-shuttered site Manga-Mura, has been arrested in Manila. The site, which was taken offline in April 2018, was frequented by around 100 million people each month and made around 60,000 manga available free of charge, reports AFP. The Japanese government created a special task force to find Hoshino, a Japanese citizen, and launched a manhunt to track him down.
NHK reports that the investigation was launched after complaints from manga publishers, adding that authorities believe the 27-year-old Hoshino had a central role in running the site.
Manga-Mura launched in 2016. Mainichi News reports that the Content Overseas Distribution Association estimates that Manga-Mura cost $2.93 billion in copyright violation damages, making it the worst copyright violation in Japanese history.
Hoshino was about to leave for Hong Kong when he was arrested on Sunday at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The arrest was made at the request of the Japanese Embassy in Manila. According to news reports, he is expected to be deported to Japan. Japanese police have an arrest warrant for once Hoshino is extradited, NHK and ANN report.
“We are in close coordination with our foreign counterparts who send us information about criminals who might be hiding in the Philippines,” Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente was quoted as saying. “His presence in the country is a risk to public safety and security.”
Eds Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Manga-Mura launched in 2017 and went offline in 2019. It has since been updated.