Japan’s police agencies have started to take a strong stance on Internet-related sex crimes involving those who are under 18 years of age by monitoring public posts on forums and social networks, and even making arrests of those who offer sex-inclined services, together with those who look to avail of those services. Both Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the National Police Agency (NPA) have at different times made announcements on arrests made under these efforts to protect minors from online crimes.
In most cases, police officers will monitor forums and social networks to find online posts from those under 18, usually offering to sell their underwear or have sexual encounters for money. The police usually respond posing as interested parties. They will reveal their identity upon meeting the minor and strongly warn them of the criminal behavior they involved in. They will also get in contact the minor’s parents or guardian. In some cases, police officers have taken action against those found to have responded to the posts. In one incident, the MPD took into custody a 30-year-old man on charges of obscenity after reportedly purchasing the used underwear of a 17-year-old girl. The man reportedly paid 18,000 yen (approx. $183) for the undergarments of the third-year high-school student during an osanpo, or “walking date”, in the Akihabara shopping area of Tokyo on April 22. The suspect has admitted to the allegations.
The NPA assures that the monitoring will happen on a nation-wide basis. The full implementation of these efforts follows a very successful trial period from April to September where officers found about 2,000 relevant posts. Working undercover, the police within the trial period caught and gave guidance to 89 minors for making these posts online. According to data from the NPA, majority of these minors were females, with the average age of 16. A total of 14 were junior high school students, with the youngest being 13 years old. Most of the girls left posts on social networking and dating Web sites, making suggestions that they were willing to have sex, while others posted about selling their underwear.