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Topimage (2ch).png
Type of site
Available inJapanese (some parts are in English)
OwnerLoki Technology, Inc.
Created byHiroyuki Nishimura
Revenue¥100 million/year[1]
Alexa rankIncrease 802 (August 2018)[2]
RegistrationOptional, US$33.00/year[when?]
LaunchedMay 30, 1999; 19 years ago (1999-05-30)
Current statusActive

2channel (2ちゃんねる, ni channeru, 2ch for short) is a Japanese textboard. In 2007, 2.5 million posts were made every day.[3][4] Launched in 1999, it has gained significant influence in Japanese society, comparable to that of traditional mass media such as television, radio, and magazines.[3][5][6] During 2008 the site generated an annual revenue upwards of ¥100 million for its founder Hiroyuki Nishimura.[1] The website was previously operated under Packet Monster Inc., a company based in Chinatown, Singapore, between 2009 and 2014.[7][8][9] It has been described as "Japan’s most popular online community, with around ten million users accessing it each day."[10]

The name "2channel" is allegedly a reference to how RF modulators, commonly used for connecting earlier-generation game consoles (such as Family Computer by Nintendo) to television sets, default to VHF channel 2 in Japan.[11]

As of October 2017, 2channel has rebranded itself as 5channel.[12]


2ch was opened on 30 May 1999 in a college apartment in Conway, Arkansas on the campus of University of Central Arkansas[3] by Hiroyuki Nishimura.[13] At the time, 2channel served as the successor to an earlier anonymous textboard known as Ayashii World [ja] (あやしいわーるど).[14] Since 2channel's servers were located in the United States, the website enjoyed a greater degree of immunity to legal action from within Japan, in comparison to its predecessors.

In 2009, Nishimura transferred ownership of the website to Packet Monster Inc., a company based in Chinatown, Singapore, while remaining as an administrator. However, due to Japanese bystander laws which state that a website holds full responsibility for the regulation of its community in the event that it becomes accessory to a crime, Nishimura was charged with promoting the sale of narcotics on December 20, 2012.[15] Later on August 24, 2013, the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau declared in a tax audit that Nishimura failed to declare 100 million yen worth of website revenue which is subject to income tax.[16]

In August 2013, an accidental leak [ja] placed the credit card details and personal details of thousands of 2channel users into the public domain,[17] exposing the anonymous profiles of various high level personas such as politicians and writers, in addition to exposing users to identity theft.[18][19][20] As a result, a series of lawsuits were filed against the website.

On February 19, 2014, 2channel underwent a domain name repossession, with Jim Watkins [ja], an ex-US Army officer and chairman of San Francisco-based N.T. Technologies taking full control over the website, relieving Nishimura of all power, and assuming the role of website administrator.[21] It was later revealed that 2channel was suffering from financial setbacks prior to the takeover.[22] In response, Nishimura created his own clone of 2channel at 2ch.sc,[23] scraping the contents of the entire 2channel website and costing the original 2channel website significant bandwidth costs. Currently 2ch.sc continues to scrape the contents of 2channel in real-time. In a Q&A session on 4chan shortly after becoming the site's owner, Nishimura claimed that control over 2channel was stolen by Watkins, and that he had filed a lawsuit against Watkins.[24]

By October 2017, 2channel was acquired by Loki Technology, Inc. The site was rebranded as 5channel to avoid potential legal issues.[12]



The website's scale and management style is unique. It has currently more than 1,000 active boards (, ita).[25] They are categorised such as "Social News", "Computers", and "Cooking", making it the most comprehensive forum in Japan. Each board usually has some hundreds of active threads.[26] Each thread, in turn, contains up to 1000 anonymous comments.


2ch operates on innovative forum software,[citation needed] which is a major departure from 1980s bulletin board systems. Everything is done anonymously and voluntarily. A posting in a thread will either bump or not, determining its position in the thread list.

Each thread is limited to 1000 postings at maximum, and a new thread must be opened (by some anonymous user, self-elected during discussion) to continue discussion. This prevents the rotting of old threads and keeps active topics refreshed. It also saves bandwidth, which is a major concern on a forum as large as 2ch. Old threads are moved to a paid archive; they are then eventually deleted.

Referral system[edit]

2channel uses a referral system for any links to external websites posted on the forum. People clicking on a link are first sent to a page filled with advertisements where a link to the actual site is placed. Apart from collecting revenue from the 2channel visitors it also attracts website owners of the linked pages who check their statistics and can't link it back to 2channel.[27]

Users will often attempt to bypass this system by removing the h from http in URLs, encouraging others to copy and paste the link, thus avoiding the referral page. For example, http://ja.wikipedia.org/ would become ttp://ja.wikipedia.org/.


Shift JIS art depicting 2ch-born characters created by anonymous users.

Anonymous posting[edit]

One of the most distinctive features of 2ch is the complete freedom of anonymous posting. This is a large departure from most English language internet forums which require some form of registration, usually coupled with email verification for further identification of an individual. On 2ch, a name field is available, but it is seldom used. Entering one's name in the field, unless you do so with an obvious purpose, would identify you as a newbie who does not understand the forum, an administrator, or someone attempting to be a Web celebrity. However, open proxies are banned from posting on 2channel.

Slander and legal issues[edit]

The only type of posts which are not allowed are vandalism posts (for example, spamming and flooding) and posts which could be classed as slander under Japanese law, and could result in legal action being undertaken against 2channel or the poster. Also, posts which declare intentions to commit a crime would be referred to the police, due to events such as the Neomugicha incident.

In January 2007, a small court in Japan, making a judgment on yet another slander case, announced that 2channel's holding company was bankrupt and it would be repossessed. This claim was openly mocked by Nishimura on 2channel's splash page, and nothing of the sort happened, although 2channel's Japanese ISP ended its operations.[28]

Nationalism and hate speech[edit]

2channel, with its massive size and anonymous posting, is abundant with slander, hate speech[29] and defamation against public figures, institutions, minorities, and specific ethnic groups.[30][31] Though the site has a rule to delete illegal postings defined under Japanese law, the scale and anonymous nature of the site makes a prompt response difficult. On occasion, 2channel has been accused of being reluctant to remove defamatory postings.[32] The discussion boards are also often used to coordinate real-life demonstrations; as an example, 2channel users organised an August 2011 rally against Fuji Television, under the concern that the channel was broadcasting too many Korean television shows.[33]

2ch phenomena[edit]

Densha Otoko[edit]

Densha Otoko, "Train Man", is a Japanese movie, television series, manga, novel, and other media, all based on the purportedly true story of a 23-year-old man who intervened when a drunk man started to harass several women on a train. The man ultimately begins dating one of the women. The event and the man's subsequent dates with the woman were chronicled on 2channel.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Meet Hiroyuki Nishimura, the Bad Boy of the Japanese Internet". Wired. 19 May 2008. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  2. ^ "5ch.net Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Katayama, Lisa (19 April 2007). "2-Channel Gives Japan's Famously Quiet People a Mighty Voice". Wired. Retrieved 29 November 2010. This single site has more influence on Japanese popular opinion than the prime minister, the emperor and the traditional media combined. On one level, it serves as a fun, informative place for people to read product reviews, download software and compare everything from the size of their poop to quiz show answers. But conversations hosted here have also influenced stock prices, rallied support for philanthropic causes, organized massive synchronized dance routines, prevented terrorism and driven people to their deathbeds.
  4. ^ Statistics for the current day, split out by channel, are at stats.2ch.net
  5. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (9 May 2004). "Japanese Find a Forum to Vent Most-Secret Feelings, NYTimes.com, May 9, 2004". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Taro Aso said he occasionally posts on 2channel". MSNSankei (in Japanese). 6 October 2007. Archived from the original on 16 May 2009.
  7. ^ 冨岡晶 (2 January 2009). "2ちゃんねる、海外企業に譲渡 ― 西村博之氏からPACKET MONSTER INC.へ譲渡完了" (in Japanese). RBB TODAY. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  8. ^ 立川優 (2 January 2009). "2ちゃんねる、"言論の自由なき日本"を見捨てた?" (in Japanese). MSN 産経ニュース. Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  9. ^ Alex Martin. "2channel founder ponders next step after forum's sale". The Japan Times. "Speculation abounds, however, that the move may be a legal trick to deflect further lawsuits filed against Nishimura for the site's frequently libelous content."
  10. ^ Sakamoto, Rumi. "'Koreans, Go Home!' Internet Nationalism in Contemporary Japan as a Digitally Mediated Subculture". The Asia-Pacific Journal. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  11. ^ In that age, NHK Tokyo used channel 1 as general-purpose channel and channel 3 as educational channel thus channel 2 was unused to avoid adjacent channel interference; on the other hand, NHK Osaka used channels 2 (general-purpose) and 12 (educational) thus channel 1 was unused in the same manner; therefore, these consoles were designed to allow users to choose either ch. 1 or 2 depeding on the region they were used.
  12. ^ a b "5ちゃんねる掲示板へようこそ". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  13. ^ Matsutani, Minoru, "2channel's success rests on anonymity", Japan Times, 6 April 2010, p. 3.
  14. ^ Stryker, Cole (2011). Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan's Army Conquered the Web. New York: The Overlook Press. pp. 133–134. ISBN 9781590207383. 2channel was based on a previous text board called Ayashii World, the first big anonymous text board in Japan... Ayashii World, like many anonymous chan boards, experienced so much downtime that its owner began to receive death threats, prompting him to shut down the board in 1998.
  15. ^ "警察庁長官:悪質管理者「検挙も」…掲示板の違法情報放置". Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 27 December 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013.
  16. ^ "申告漏れ:2ちゃんねる元管理人が1億円 広告収入の一部、譲渡後も関与裏付け". Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 24 August 2013. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013.
  17. ^ Akimoto, Akky (17 September 2013). "Accidental leak IDs over 30,000 'anonymous' 2channel users". The Japan Times Online.
  18. ^ "作家は暴言謝罪、不倫もバレる? 2ちゃん情報流出騒動" (in Japanese). Asahi Shimbun. 20 September 2013.
  19. ^ "<個人情報流出余波>書き込みバレて"公開処刑"". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). 29 August 2013.
  20. ^ "「2ちゃんねる」個人情報漏えい事件、AKB関係者のアカウント流出で大騒動に!?". Livedoor (in Japanese). 27 August 2013.
  21. ^ Akimoto, Akky (20 March 2014). "Who holds the deeds to gossip bulletin board 2channel?". The Japan Times Online.
  22. ^ Jim Watkins (19 February 2014). "Let's talk with Jim-san. Part21". Anago.2ch.net. The previous management was not able to generate enough income to pay the bills for the expenses of running 2ch. Previously I allowed some autonomy to them. During that time my name has been slandered. The ability for 2ch to generate enough income to stay open was damaged. I hope that with proper management that 2ch can recover.
  23. ^ "現2chは「違法な乗っ取り」状態──ひろゆき氏?が新サイト「2ch.sc」開設を予告". ITmedia ニュース (in Japanese). 1 April 2014.
  24. ^ Nishimura, Hiroyuki (22 September 2015). "ANSWERS THREAD - Q&A Session with Hiroyuki Nishimura". 4chan (archived by desuarchive.org). Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  25. ^ 2ちゃんねる掲示板リスト (List of Boards in 2ch); the number includes X-rated Pink Channel boards (with its own domain name 'BBSPINK.COM'), boards derived from former Town BBS (later the official members of 2CH.NET), and English boards called Embassies.
  26. ^ The number can be retrieved at http://server name/board name/SETTING.TXT.
  27. ^ "18 HOUR Visit to my site?". Reuters. 4 April 2005. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
  28. ^ n:Japanese court plans to seize control of 2channel
  29. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (9 May 2004). "Japanese Find a Forum to Vent Most-Secret Feelings (Page 2 of 2)". The New York Times. But Channel 2 is also a window into Japan's ugly side. Many of the contents tend to be nationalistic and xenophobic, especially toward Koreans. When Sony and Samsung recently announced a joint project, users attacked Sony for cooperating with the South Korean company. "Die, Sony!" read several comments. "Die, Koreans!" Many wrote that they hated Koreans, using a derogatory term to describe them.
  30. ^ Jillian York, USA (22 December 2009). "Japan: Flaming and the secrets we hide, 2007". Globalvoices.org. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  31. ^ Mclelland, Mark (December 2008). "'Race' on the Japanese internet: discussing Korea and Koreans on '2-channeru'". New Media and Society. 10 (6): 811–829. CiteSeerX doi:10.1177/1461444808096246.
  32. ^ [1] a case made by Debito Arudou
  33. ^ "Japan's right-wing groups hold rallies vs. Korean pop culture". The Dong-a Ilbo. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.

External links[edit]