Shop Owner Arrested After Selling A Fake Pokémon Card And Displaying Three Phony Games

Shop Owner Arrested After Selling A Fake Pokémon Card And Displaying Three Phony Games
Watch the whole clip for a look inside. (Image: Obscure Japan/YouTube/Kotaku)

The proprietor of retro game shop Alive Yokkaichi Tokiwa Store in Mie, Japan was put into police custody for allegedly selling a fake Pokémon card for around 2,200 yen ($US19 ($26)).

The store’s 48-year-old owner Yukinori Harada was arrested for allegedly violating Japanese copyright law.

As you can see in this hour-long YouTube clip from Obscure Japan, Alive Yokkaichi Tokiwa Store is a massive store, selling retro and new games as well as cards, consoles, CDs, and other merch.

Police tell CBC TV that Harada allegedly violated Japan’s Copyright Act and trademark law after selling a fake Pokémon card featuring purple-haired trainer Acerola last December.

Japanese copyright law is notoriously strict and severe, which has caused potential issues even in much more benign situations such as anime reviews on YouTube and even cosplay.

In November 2021, police recieved a tip that Alive Yokkaichi Tokiwa Store was selling fakes.

“I thought it might be counterfeit when I sold it,” Harada said about the Acerola card.

Authorities also found three knock-off retro Mega Man games, which had not been sold, but still violated the country’s copyright and trademark laws. “I displayed knock-offs to increase the store’s profits,” he added.

Since copyright and trademark holders have significant legal rights in Japan, this can explain seemingly Draconian arrests for such small sums of money. In 2019, for example, a then 39-year-old-man was arrested for selling a customised anime figure for $US27 ($37). The crime? Taking the head from a Love Live figure of character Nico Yazawa and put it on the body of a Darjeeling figure from Girls und Panzer Darjeeling, which violated the copyright of both properties. However, authorities recovered around 1,000 figures from the suspect’s house and questionable deposits totaling $US77,000 ($106,891).

In this latest case, police seized around 150 cards and games that are believed to be possible fakes.

The store’s official Twitter account issued an apology, writing that it was, “deeply sorry for any trouble that has been caused.” The account added that it would refrain from making any future comments due to the ongoing investigation.

The authorities are now looking into how the shop’s proprietor came into possession of these items and if other alleged crimes have been committed.

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