From today's Daily Yomiuri On-Line:
An increasing number of cases of camera and video voyeurism using cell phones and spy cameras have been identified recently. According to the National Police Agency, the number of cases nationwide last year increased about 60 percent over five years ago.
Police have stepped up crackdowns against such crimes, but methods of illicit filming have become increasingly sophisticated due to smaller cameras and improved cell phone video capabilities.
Another factor behind the increase is believed to be the existence of Web sites sharing these photos and videos. Experts say it is necessary to take action against such sites.
According to the NPA, the total number of identified cases of up-skirt photos and videos taken in stations and on trains and illicit filming at public baths and bathrooms was 1,087 in 2006. The number jumped to 1,741 cases in 2010. Of those, 1,702 were cases of up-skirt photos and videos, accounting for about 98 percent.
Among prefectures, 266 cases were detected in Kanagawa Prefecture, followed by 201 cases in Tokyo, 131 cases in Hyogo Prefecture, 111 cases in Chiba Prefecture and 103 cases in Saitama Prefecture. About 40 percent of the cases were detected in the Tokyo metropolitan area--Tokyo and its surrounding three prefectures.
In Chiba Prefecture, cases are also increasing this year. According to the Chiba prefectural police, the number of cases from January through September was 60 percent higher than the corresponding period last year.
Especially noteworthy were videos taken using cell phones. Fifty percent of arrests made by the prefectural police on suspicion of violating the public nuisance ordinance involved filming using cell phone video cameras.
A man arrested by the prefectural police on suspicion of illicit filming in Chiba was quoted by the police as saying: "I used the video function as I cannot take still photos well with my cell phone. The still photo shutter sound is too noticeable."
A police officer explained why illicit video is increasing: "It's easier to shoot videos [than take photos] and it's possible to edit videos when the data is transferred to a computer. The video can be stopped anywhere and photos can be made from it," he said.
According to NTT Docomo, Inc., cell phones began to be equipped with video in about 2003. At first, maximum shooting time was short and images were poor quality. However, they have improved remarkably over the past few years and some current models are equipped with high resolution video capability, producing images as clear as those taken by full-sized video cameras.
Filming methods have also become more surreptitious. Some people hide small cameras in a bag or in their shoe. In Akita Prefecture, a doctor was arrested in September on suspicion of having taken a video of a patient while he was examining her with a video camera watch. The doctor told the police he had bought the camera on the Internet.
The number of cases of illicit filming is also increasing in the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police Department over the past few years. A senior MPD officer said, "One of the reasons is cameras have become smaller and quality has improved."
Experts say women using cell phones or wearing earphones are more likely to be targeted. A Chiba prefectural police officer warns women to be cautious of their surroundings, saying, "Please check behind yourself on trains or escalators without being totally absorbed in your cell phone or a music player."
Control of Web sites needed
Rissho University Prof. Nobuo Komiya, an expert on criminal sociology, pointed out the necessity of proactive Web site identification by police. "In Japan, measures against indecent images on the Internet are weak and providers aren't detecting Web sites containing illicit images," he said.
Komiya said if such images spread on the Internet, they may cause other problems for victimized women such as stalking. "These images might induce new sexual crimes. I think it's necessary to review current ways of controlling images on the Internet," he said.
Musashino Gakuin University Associate Prof. Yuichi Kogure, an expert on cell phones, said: "Almost everyone carries a cell phone with a camera capabilities, but moral guidance for users is needed. I think the government and cell phone companies need to educate users."