Game Console Modding Illegal In Japan, Punishable By Prison And Fines

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It is illegal to mod game save data and game consoles in Japan. Both are punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to 5 million yen ($46,000).

According to the official site for Japan’s Association of Copyright for Computer Software, modding game save data and game consoles violates the country’s Unfair Competition Prevention Law. The Japanese government is expanding regulations to protect game console content.

The news was first published by Japanese game sites like Hachima Kikou after peripheral maker Cyber Gadget stopped selling its Save Editor data tool, allowing players to use cheats and patch codes.


Cyber Gadget has since stopped selling the Save Editor on its Japanese site.

The Association of Copyright for Computer Software also mentions that unofficial software codes and keys are also illegal. Specifically, mentioned is offering these on online auctions and making them available for download. Finally, modding game consoles, as well as games, are included the third provision mentioned by the association.

These additional stipulations were included under amendments to the Unfair Competition Prevention Law.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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Since I cannot read kanji, is it safe to assume that this prohibition on modding primarily revolves around modifying software/hardware for the purpose of resale, or does it extend to applying mods to software for the modder’s personal use (such as popping a new night sky into Skyrim)?

One of those things seems perfectly reasonable--the other like a massive overreach--so I’m inclined to believe it’s the former, rather than the latter, but I’d appreciate some clarification if you’ve got the time.