Aozora Bunko

(Aozora Bunko)
(Aozora Bunko)
Country Japan
Type Digital library
Established February 1997 (1997-02)
Size 13,924 items (November 2016)
Criteria for collection Japanese works in public domain
References: [1]

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.

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]


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 one man — Michio Tomita (ja:富田倫生, 1952-2013) who was motivated by the simple belief that people with a common interest should cooperate with each other.[4]

In Japan, Aozora Bunko is considered similar to Project Gutenberg.[5]

The Aozora Bunko 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]

Most of the texts provided are Japanese literature and translations from English literature. This digital library ultimately plans to include 6,000+ works on the site.[5]

Public-policy advocacy organization

Aozora Bunko has 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 have accepted the terms of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, an 1886 international agreement about common copyright policies. Japan and other countries with 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. Aozora Bunko has adopted an advocacy role in favor of construing this status quo 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, “The U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative.”[6] 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 is 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 revised law on January 1, 2005; they started to collect the signatures for a petition on January 1, 2007.

Due to the regime change on 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.[7] Instead of the document, the website of embassy of the United States inserted the "UNITED STATES-JAPAN ECONOMIC HARMONIZATION INITIATIVE" in February 2011.[8] In the document, The U.S. government still requires the extension of copyright law for protection of intellectual property rights toward Japanese government.

See also


  1. "Aozora Bunko". Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  2. 1 2 Intute: Intute web site, Aozora Bunko project description
  3. 1 2 3 "Aozora Bunko" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 24 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  4. "Electronic Library National Liaison Conference FY2003", National Diet Library Newsletter. No. 30, April 2003.
  5. 1 2 3 Tamura, Aya. "Novelists, others want copyright protection extended". The Japan Times Online. September 30, 2006.
  6. "U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform Reports". Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  7. "Petition calling for no extension of the term of copyright protection". Retrieved 2014-06-02.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-17. Retrieved 2011-12-02.


External links

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