Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    The first professional Japanese author who generated enough literary earnings to live from was born in 1765[UPDATED: 3-5-2018]

    Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831) the prolific bestselling author and illustrator of titles such as the Shank’s Mare, a comic novel that follows two amiable scoundrels on a madcap road trip adventure along the great highway leading from Tokyo to Kyoto (Tokaido), was reportedly the first creative individual in Japan to be able to support himself on literary earnings alone. Shank’s Mare was published in instalments over many years. 

    As a young man at an early stage of his career, Ikku lived with Juzaburo Tsutaya (1750-1797), a highly innovative trendsetting publisher of woodblock prints in Edo, the world’s largest city at that time. Ikku, like many, was drawn to the city seeking opportunity and success. He was born in Shizoka. 

    His experience at Tsutaya’s residence helped him, after some earlier false starts, tremendously. He acknowledged that his time residing with Tsutaya allowed him to see Tsutaya in action close up, meet his connections and friends, and witness his approach to publishing. 

    Tsutaya was the publisher and distributor of many titles including the Yoshiwara saiken, a very popular guidebook to the Yoshiwara pleasure district where prostitution was legal. All the different types of people Ikku met at Tsutaya’s house or through him and his guidebook helped Ikku develop his narratives and become one of the most commercially successful authors of his generation. The Shank’s Mare, which is still readable today, is available in English translation from Amazon.
    The first professional Japanese author who generated enough literary earnings to live from was born in 1765 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    In 2017 JK Rowling was overtaken by a Japanese crime fiction writer as the top royalty-earning international author in China[UPDATED: 2-27-2018]

    In 2017 the Japanese crime fiction master Keigo Higashino, author of The Devotion of Suspect X and many other titles, overtook JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series as the highest non-Chinese royalty-earning author in China. 

    JK Rowling has headed the annual ranking for a number of years and Higashino is the first Japanese author to make it to the top of this list. His royalties surpassed US$3.5 million (2.2 million RNB) in 2017 – a year when the Chinese translation of his Miracles of the Namiya General Store was Amazon’s bestselling paperback in China, and the website’s third bestselling e-book. His novel Journey Under the Midnight Sun was also Amazon’s fourth bestselling paperback in 2017. 

    According to China Daily, Higashino’s novels have made it into Amazon’s top 10 bestseller rankings for four consecutive years since the Chinese edition of Miracles of the Namiya General Store was first published in 2014. 

    Born in Osaka, Higashino started writing novels while still working as an engineer at Nippon Denso Co, a leading supplier of advanced technology for the automobile industry. He won the coveted Edogawa Rampo Literary Prize, which is awarded annually to the finest mystery work, in 1985 aged 27, for his novel After School (Hokago). He subsequently quit his job to focus full-time on writing.
    In 2017 JK Rowling was overtaken by a Japanese crime fiction writer as the top royalty-earning international author in China Posted by Richard Nathan
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    It took Japan 20 years to sign up to the world’s first international copyright convention[UPDATED: 2-21-2018]

    It took Japan 20 years, from its launch, to join the first multi-national agreement on copyright.

    Japanese officials attended the 1886 Berne Convention on Copyright in Switzerland, considered to be one of the most important milestone in intellectual property right protection, as an observer, as did the United States. However, despite sending delegations to Switzerland neither nation signed the Berne convention, which led to the modernisation and internationalisation of author intellectual property rights.  

    The French author Victor Hugo (1802-1885), according to historians, was one of the key figures behind the initiative that led to the convention, which 10 countries signed. Other authors still famous today, including Mark Twain (1835-1910) and Charles Dickens (1812-1870), are also known to have lobbied and argued for author rights and better international protection of authors’ commercial interests.  

    Victor Hugo’s novels were first published in Japanese translation around this time, in the 1880s, as was Coningsby (also known as The New Generation), a novel by Benjami Disraeli (1804-1881), the two-time British Prime Minister. Coningsby was originally published in English in 1844.  

    It took Japan almost 20 years, one year longer than the United States, to adopt and become party to the Convention, which has since been updated and amended multiple times. Japan acceded to it in 1899.  

    The Berne Convention helped establish the concept of Country of Origin, stipulated a minimum mandatory term of 50 years of copyright after an author’s death; and provided protection for works published in translation or copies produced outside the country of initial publication.
    It took Japan 20 years to sign up to the world’s first international copyright convention Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan introduced its first copyright legislation in 1869[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    The Publishing Ordinance of 1869 was Japan’s first legislation on copyright. The regulations in the ordinance covered both the protection of copyright and the regulation of publishers. Prior to this, despite property rights generally being linked to the ownership (legal title) to the print blocks used to print books, the concept of and protection of author rights in Japan was very limited. 

    The ordinance of 1869 was updated becoming the Copyright Law (now known as the old Copyright Law) to comply with the Berne Convention in 1899, and is considered to be Japan’s first modern copyright law, as it complied with the international standard and norms on copyright protection. 

    The United States Copyright Office, in comparison, was created by Congress in 1897. Both nations were relatively slow to develop and adopt the legal frameworks to protect author rights. 

    In contrast, the United Kingdom, which publishes more books per capita than any other nation worldwide and is a major exporter of books and publications, can trace its copyright legislation back to the Statute of Anne 1709. Under that Statute, probably the world’s oldest, copyright lasted for 14 years with a second optional 14 period of renewal, a much shorter term than the current author’s life plus 70 years in the United Kingdom, and 50 years in Japan.
    Japan introduced its first copyright legislation in 1869 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Keigo Higashino is the most popular contemporary Japanese author in China[UPDATED: 2-7-2018]

    The award-winning Japanese mystery writer Keigo Higashino is the most popular living Japanese author in China. His books regularly top the bestsellers lists in China. 

    The Chinese translation of Higashino’s Miracles of the Namiya General Store was Amazon’s bestselling paperback in China in 2017 and its third bestselling e-book. His novel Journey Under the Midnight Sun was the fourth bestselling paperback in 2017. 

    According to China Daily, Higashino’s novels have made it into the top 10 of these two rankings for four consecutive years since the Chinese edition of Miracles of the Namiya General Store was first published in 2014 in China. 

    His books aren’t just bought; they are also widely borrowed. In 2016, his novel by, Mysterious Night, was the third most frequently borrowed book at Peking University Library, the main library at China’s leading and most prestigious university.

    Higashino also had the two most requested and reserved books at the Library, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store, and Journey Under the Midnight Sun. The only other novel in the library’s top ten was Animal Farm, by George Orwell (1903-1950), the seventh most borrowed book from the library. 

    Higashino’s popularity is not just limited to China and Japan. In 2017, three of top ten bestselling novels in South Korea were also by him. Making him a massive hit in the world’s second, fourth and tenth largest markets respectively, as measured by the International Publishers Association (IPA).

    Journey Under the Midnight Sun, structured as a series of short stories, was initially published in serial format in a Japanese magazine (1997-1999) and in book format in 1999. It has been adapted for television, the stage, and for film in Japan and Korea.  
    Keigo Higashino is the most popular contemporary Japanese author in China Posted by Richard Nathan
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    The translation of Harry Potter triggered a major tax investigation and fine in Japan[UPDATED: 2-5-2018]

    Yuko Matsuoka, the multi-millionaire Japanese translator and publisher of the Harry Potter novels in Japan, lost a case with the Japanese authorities, who sent her an extraordinary additional tax demand for 700 million yen, US$7 million, for undeclared income of than $29 million.  

    The Japanese tax authorities alleged that Matsuoka, 62, received more than US$29 million between 2001 and 2004 in undisclosed income. She argued that, as she had been resident in Switzerland since 2001 no tax was in fact due in Japan. After consultation with the Swiss authorities she lost the case, as she had spent too much time in Japan during the period to qualify as non-resident in Japan for tax purposes.
    The translation of Harry Potter triggered a major tax investigation and fine in Japan Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Digital developments forced Japan to update its copyright legislation in 2014[UPDATED: 12-4-2017]

    Japanese copyright law was updated in 2014 under the Revised Copyright Act.

    Publishing rights, which have traditionally been limited in Japan to print or paper medium publications, were extended to cover e-books and the Internet for the first time under the new Act.  

    The new Act came into force in January 2015, 146 years after Japan’s first copyright legislation in 1869.

    The new Act covers: the right of publication; as well as the right to terminate the right of publication; the obligation to publish or transmit online within a six-month period of receipt of manuscript, and other updates required for electronic publishing.
    Digital developments forced Japan to update its copyright legislation in 2014 Posted by Richard Nathan