“Broadcast Isolation in Japan”–no workarounds?

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader @medmouad who recently shared a link to the following article by Kenji Rikitake at Medium.com:

I’m sure Japan is one of those countries which implement the worst online broadcasting policies.

You cannot listen to Japanese internet radio stations from outside the nation, thanks to the geotagging technology for the IPv4 address; most of the major broadcasting stations do not allow access to their streaming feed outside Japan. This is a huge disservice to the expats, but the broadcasters seem not to care about it at all.

Japan’s geotagging policy against streaming broadcast is even worse within the nation; the telecom ministry enforces prefectural border limits for licensing the broadcast stations, though in some rare cases wider limits are allowed. Japan is regionally divided into 47 prefectures. So you cannot listen to Tokyo radio stations for free when you are in Osaka over internet. And vice versa. Recently a consortium of private broadcast stations, radiko.jp, announced a paid service for cross-prefectural listening of JPY300 (about USD3) per month. Isn’t this a ripoff? And it’s still not accessible from outside Japan.

Japan has a weird article in the copyright law too; the copyright owner can claim the right of making the contents being able and ready to be publicly transmitted. This right is applicable to all transmission media including internet and airwaves. So when you buy a CD, you cannot transmit without the permission of the copyright holder, usually the publisher.

[…]I hope someday I can listen to Japanese radio outside Japan over internet. The day, however, will not come soon.

Continue reading the full article at Medium.com.

If you’re an SWLing Post reader, I’m willing to bet you’re thinking: “Yeah…this is one of the downfalls of radio over the Internet.” We never have this issue with shortwave radio broadcasts since they’re built upon a medium that has, at its very core, no regard for national borders.

Of course, this article focuses on local/regional FM outlets in Japan and the firewalls that keep their online streams neatly contained.

I can’t help but think that there must be workarounds to defeat IPv4 address geotagging within Japan. Perhaps I’m wrong.

I do know that I can easily listen to local AM/mediumwave broadcasters throughout Japan using one of many web SDRs on the KiwiSDR network. Surely the same could be done for FM using a network of web accessible RTL-SDR dongles–?

Has anyone found a workaround? Mark Fahey, you know I’m looking a you!

Please comment!

Spread the radio love

10 thoughts on ““Broadcast Isolation in Japan”–no workarounds?

  1. John

    I was able to use TuneIn in Canada to listen to Japanese radio stations up until a couple of months ago. I’ve also got a VPN, which I’ve had for a couple of years and it doesn’t work for Japanese radio streaming at all.

    It really used to help me stay familiar with the language I was starting to learn, but….alas.

  2. Peter Lee

    The Japanese have long been notorious for their extremely-strict copyright policies. By the 2000s, Japanese radio broadcasters even didn’t provide any live streaming service on the Internet. Recently, they have begun to broadcast live on the Internet, but they wouldn’t let overseas listeners hear their radio channels. Ridiculous Japanese!

  3. Mark Fahey

    Oh I commented above without reading the final paragraph! Thomas gave me the challenge LOL! I didn’t see that on the first read of the article LOL! What a buddy – he knows me too well!

  4. Mark Fahey

    You can listen – its SOOOOO easy! If you don’t know how ask anyone under 25 years old! Seriously any IP restrictions are very easy to overcome (and even free if you don’t want to spend the $3USD per month for a premium work around). To illustrate the point I decided to listen to Japan’s most popular FM station as I type this reply. I’m listening to J-Wave FM 81.3 in Tokyo – right now in Sydney Australia – The program on is called Good Neighbours they are in a commercial break right now and the last song played was One Kiss by Calvin Harris. I haven’t done anything particular special – my home (3 Internet Radios, TV, iPads, Computers, Phones) can access any digital media anywhere, anytime and it was less than 3 minutes to set-up – and once set it works automatically. My iPads have been set-up to do this anyway – even when I’m not home.

    On a kind of related topic – I sometimes get in trouble when discussing what some see as the resilience of analog technologies (ie read shortwave radio etc to political or geographic censorship) when compared to digital IP delivery – because a lot of myths have propagated in the radio hobby circles. For example, China’s Firedrake, CNR1 Jamming or jet noise jamming are very effective – ie they do wipe out Radio Free Asia etc in both China and North Korea – but listening to the RFA, VOA, BBC, Voice of Hope etc in China is easily overcome by using IP streaming and really simple easy to do configuration that even your mum could do – less than 3 minutes to set up!

    Just ask a young person!

    If you don’t have any young guys in your home you can message an old guy (ie me!) and I will help you out too! @realmarkfahey

  5. Barry Sallade

    Soooo, I guess if I wanted to re-broadcast a japanese station over the internet that I receive here at home via shortwave or medium wave, that would be considered a no no?

  6. Tom Servo

    If you can find a VPN provider with a server in Japan — in the prefecture of your choosing — that might serve as a workaround because your IP would be local to the country. VPNs usually cost money, however, and don’t usually let you choose a location on a prefecture (or state, in the US) level. Some really aggressive filtering also blocks all known VPN IP addresses, so it’s not a perfect workaround.

  7. Kire

    Like you said shortwave doesnt have the internet to throttle the cage, so to speak. I get Radio Japan and R. Nikkei quite well here in california. I especially enjoy the classic enka songs with the slight flange due to traveling our beautiful planets’ atmospheric permutations.

    1. Jim Gottlieb

      For the most part, those are stations no one wants to listen to – mostly small community stations or online-only streamers. Currently I use a VPN to listen to Tokyo stations and pay for a Radiko subscription so I can listen to stations from anywhere in Japan.

      1. Alfonso AR

        Hi Jim, just one basic question. What kind of VPN service are you using? Great to hear that you were able to use Radiko. Are you paying it from an overseas account? I’m in Mexico and would like to have access to radio stations in Japan. Thanks in advance for your help.


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