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The question is motivated by my multiple attempts to find a legal way of obtaining Japanese-language electronic books from their official stores (let is be, say, Amazon.co.jp, though for Rakuten, BookWalker etc. the same applies).

Apparently, all of those make it impossible to purchase anything (variant: anything but free) without a valid Japanese address. In fact, activation of an account fails to proceed without one.

That the barrier is purely bureaucratic and apparently based on the unsurety about the interaction of international laws can be proven by the facts that nothing is apparently even billed physically to the address required and the files are encoded exactly the same worldwide (experience of people with legal double accounts I’ve discussed the matter with). This limitation actually plays not only against foreigners wishing to read Japanese books but also such an important demographic as the Japanese community worldwide, who completely lose an access to their own literature, unless one agrees to physical books, which are

(1) also inaccessible unless through a mediating reseller;

(2) more expensive even without shipping, to say nothing of mail punctuality;

(3) for less-than-perfect speakers make it restrictively hard to look up a word or phrase.

An option that is constantly repeated on forums and such seems trivial: just add an invented (or taken from some hotel advertisement) address and be purchasing. I’ve been wondering: what exactly is violated by such a strategy? Sometimes I am suspecting that exactly nothing but the Conditions of Use of the e-Shops themselves – for which they may delete an account, or may not, depending on their thoroughness and willingness. Note that money are being paid in full and the company, as well as the publishers and authors get their well-earned parts.

P. S. Answers providing some (legal) solution to the conundrum allowing non-Japanese to purchase on the Japanese side of the spectrum are also welcome.

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Copyright

Books have copyright protection (virtually) worldwide but publishing is still done on a country by country basis.

So, the author sells the copyright to their Japanese publisher who then sells exclusive licences (or not) for different geographic regions. If they have sold a licence to a North American publisher then they cannot sell in North America. In order to comply with their licence agreement they restrict your ability to purchase.

Such licences are typically for the entire catalog, not individual books.

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As Dale said, those sites probably do not have the rights to sell those books outside of Japan (or at least have agreed not to do so).

However, you wouldn't really get in trouble if you faked your address. It is not illegal to lie to Amazon since you would not be under oath or illegal to posses the books.

There are sites that provide a Japanese address. https://www.tenso.com/en

Find a friend who has a Japanese address and have him or her send you the books would be the easiest way.

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