Major video-sharing websites in China, which host a huge range of overseas content, are turning a cold shoulder to TV shows and movies created in Japan.
The websites, including Youku, Tudou and PPS, recently removed the "Japan" category from their list of countries, making it harder for users to find Japanese content.
The websites allow users to post their own videos, but many of them are actually pirated versions of shows and movies that have not obtained copyrights.
Because the categories of other countries remain, however, the view is spreading among Internet users in China that the deletion is due to friction over the Senkaku Islands. Located in the East China Sea, the islands are effectively controlled by Japan but are also claimed by China.
Users on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging site, say the Japan deletion was made several days ago.
The movie page on Tudou, for example, has 45 categories in its list of countries and regions, but no longer includes Japan. Visitors searching the site for Japanese shows or movies by name can still watch some of them, though some videos have been deleted.
On the anime and music pages, the Japan category is still listed.
Access to those Japanese shows and movies, which users can download for free, has come mainly from people in China.
Some visitors to those websites have posted complaints on the Internet about the removal of Japanese shows and movies. One of them said, "Will boycotting Japanese dramas return the (Senkaku Islands) to China?"
One Taiwanese media organization referring to the removal said, "It is strange that only Japanese works are not shown."
Others, however, see the move as practical rather than political.
Taipei-based United Daily News said, "Buying the official versions to watch is the right thing to do."
Since fiscal 2009, Tokyo-based Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), which works to spread Japanese videos and music abroad and protect against piracy, has been requiring overseas website operators to delete illegal videos. CODA took the move in response to a surge in illegal uploads of Japanese content in China, South Korea and Taiwan.
During the period from August 2011 to September 2012, CODA required operators of nine websites, including seven Chinese ones, to delete a total of 98,913 pages. Of them, 96 percent have since been deleted.
Meanwhile, there are growing requests from Chinese organizations for official versions of Japanese anime. In response, TV Tokyo Corp. delivered "Naruto" and "Bleach" late last year, and Yomiuri Telecasting Corp., based in Osaka, began delivering "Detective Conan" in June of this year.
(This article was written by Keisuke Katori in Beijing and Natsuki Edogawa in Tokyo.)
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