Aozora Bunko

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Aozora Bunko (青空文庫, literally the "Blue Sky Library", also known as the "Open Air Library") is a Japanese digital library. This online collection encompasses several thousands of works of Japanese-language fiction and non-fiction. These include out-of-copyright books or works that the authors wish to make freely available.

Aozora Bunko
Aozora Bunko Logo.png
TypeDigital library
EstablishedFebruary 1997 (1997-02)
SizeOver 15100 works (January 2019)
Criteria for collectionJapanese works in public domain or allowed by author
References: [1]

Since its inception in 1997, Aozora Bunko has been both the compiler and publisher of an evolving online catalog.[2] In 2006, Aozora Bunko organized to add a role as a public policy advocate to protect its current and anticipated catalog of freely accessible e-books.[3]

History and operationEdit

This is an explanatory illustration prepared by Aozora Bunko as part of project encouraging Japanese citizens to contact Diet members in effort to express a point-of-view.

Aozora Bunko was created on the Internet in 1997 to provide broadly available, free access to Japanese literary works whose copyrights had expired. The driving force behind the project was Michio Tomita (ja:富田倫生, 1952–2013), who was motivated by the belief that people with a common interest should cooperate with each other.[4]

In Japan, Aozora Bunko is considered similar to Project Gutenberg.[5] Most of the texts provided are Japanese literature, and some translations from English literature. The resources are searchable by category, author, or title; and there is a considerable amount of support in how to use the database in the form of detailed explanations. The files can be downloaded in PDF format or simply viewed in HTML format.[2]

After the passing of Tomita in 2013, the Future of Books Fund (本の未来基金, hon no mirai kikin) was established independently to assist funding and operations for Aozora Bunko.[6]

Aozora Bunko currently includes more than 15,100 works as of 5 January 2019.[7]

Public-policy advocacy organizationEdit

Aozora Bunko joined with others in organizing to oppose changes in Japanese copyright law. That opposition has led to encouraging Japanese citizens to submit letters and petitions to the Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency and to members of the Diet.[3]

Graphic icon illustrating Aozora Bunko's public-policy advocacy position—opposing proposed changes to Japan's copyright laws.

Japan and other countries accepted the terms of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, an 1886 international agreement about common copyright policies. Aozora Bunko adopted an advocacy role in favor of continuing with a status quo of laws that do not go beyond the minimum copyright terms of the Berne Convention have copyrights that run for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years as preferable to changes proposed by a number of powerful forces.[3]

The evolution of Aozora Bunko from a digital library to a public-policy advocacy organization is an unintended consequence which developed only after the perceived threat to the Aozora Bunko catalog and mission became otherwise unavoidable.[5]


Aozora Bunko pointed that extension of the copyright term had been influenced from the document[citation needed], "The U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative."[8] Through these annual reports, The U.S. Government was requiring that the protected period of copyright should be extended to the Japanese government: 70 years after one's death for a work by an individual, and 95 years after publication for a work by a corporation. In response, the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan has expressed that a conclusion was obtained at the Council for Cultural Affairs copyright subcommittee by the end of 2007. If the legal revision which extends a protected period will be actually carried out, Aozora Bunko would be forced not to publish books which have already and almost been published because of the 20 years' extension of protection of copyright. Therefore, Aozora Bunko released the counter declaration against enforcement of the revised law on 1 January 2005; they started to collect the signatures for a petition on 1 January 2007.[citation needed]

Due to the regime change in 2009 in Japan, Japanese government stopped to receive these reports from the U.S. government. Aozora Bunko does not show any responses toward that and their petition calling for opposition against the extension of copyright term stopped from the modification of October 2008.[9] Instead of the document, the website of embassy of the United States inserted the "UNITED STATES-JAPAN ECONOMIC HARMONIZATION INITIATIVE" in February 2011.[10] In the document, The U.S. government promoted the extension of copyright law for protection of intellectual property rights toward Japanese government so that it was "in line with emerging global trends, including those of its OECD counterparts and major trading partners."

On 30 December 2018, Japan did extend the period to 70 years,[11] which was a requirement stemming from the EU–Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Aozora Bunko". Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b Intute: Intute web site, Aozora Bunko project description
  3. ^ a b c "Aozora Bunko" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 24 November 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  4. ^ "Electronic Library National Liaison Conference FY2003", National Diet Library Newsletter. No. 30, April 2003.
  5. ^ a b Tamura, Aya. "Novelists, others want copyright protection extended". The Japan Times Online. September 30, 2006.
  6. ^ Tsuda, Daisuke (1 September 2013). 青空文庫呼びかけ人・富田倫生さんを偲んで/追悼イベントのお知らせ. HuffPost Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Aozora Bunko". Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  8. ^ "U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform Reports". Archived from the original on 15 July 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Petition calling for no extension of the term of copyright protection". Aozora. 2007. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ JIJI Staff (10 December 2018). "Japan to extend copyright period on works including novels and paintings to 70 years on Dec. 30". The Japan Times. Jiji Press. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Japan, Article 14.13". European Commission. The term of protection for rights of an author of a literary or artistic work within the meaning of Article 2 of the Berne Convention shall run for the life of the author and for 70 years after the author's death


External linksEdit