|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
High school hookers use crafty cameras to turn new tricks 2002,07,30
Shukan Post 8/9 By Ryann Connell
Mobile phones with a built-in camera are like something out of the world of Dick Tracy.
But, as Shukan Post (8/9) notes, Japan's legions of schoolgirl prostitutes are already using the revolutionary new phones mostly for dick tracing.
As government figures show, about 76 of Japan's 126 million people own a mobile phone, nearly every Tom,Dick and Harry here owns one, but when it comes to schoolgirls, Tom and Harry don't even get a look in.
Schoolgirls and their camera phones also influenced last year's nearly ninefold increase in the rate of crimes related to online personals sites, with 70 percent of these cases involving sex crimes such as violations of the law forbidding child pornography and child prostitution.
Mobile phones with built-in cameras have become the norm for new models in the Japanese handheld communications market, allowing users to take a photo with the digital camera and send it within seconds.
"All (phone manufacturer) J-Phone's new model phones contain a built-in camera. NTT DoCoMo still only has a minor share, but people were waiting for their model and the company sold contracts for 600,000 phones within two months of them being on the market. It's highly likely a young person's first mobile phone now will be one that has a built-in camera and that's what all the young kids changing models insist on nowadays," Mitsutoshi Sakabe, editor-in-chief of Keitai Best, a mobile phone trendwatcher magazine, tells Shukan Post.
Camera inclusive phones have also revolutionized Japan's thriving online personals market, changing it from one dependent entirely on words to supplementing phrases with snapshots.
"Our site has about 100,000 members, 70 percent of whom are men. Of the 30,000 women members, about one-third have listed their profile on our site. Half of them, or about 5,000, have added a photo taken from their mobile phone to their profile," the operator of an online matchmaking site tells Shukan Post.
"Women may not be worried about exposing themselves. They're much more active in showing their faces. Nearly all the women members who have a mobile phone quipped with a built-in camera must have put their photo up considering the total number who have bought the products so far."
Shukan Post notes that were the phones proving beneficial for mere matchmaking it'd be all right, but they're being used for schoolgirl prostitutes to flog their wares.
Japan's top-selling weekly cites messages posted with photos by schoolgirls who're clearly prostituting themselves.
Operators of the online personals sites deny any wrongdoing.
"We're simply providing them with a place to meet up with somebody else," the site operator says.
"After that,what happens is their business and they don't go through our site to conduct their negotiations."
Ryo Tochinai, a writer specializing in youth culture, says using mobile phones with cameras is only a natural progression from earlier media and warns that they could be used to create further trouble.
"Where people years ago may have written graffiti on a toilet wall saying, 'Call such-and-such for a good time,' messages posted on bulletin boards or online personals sites are changing with the times. Just as some girls would sell their own soiled undies together with a photo of a girl they hated when the knicker sales business was booming, kids will be able to take photos and send them in another person's name while offering to provide sexual services for a certain fee," the writer tells Shukan Post.
Hosei University Prof.Tatsuo Inazo also sends an ominous warning about the dangers of camera-equipped mobile phones.
"Just as much a problem as increasing the use of online personals sites, phones with built-in cameras look like they're going to be the norm five years down the track. That'll turn Japan into a nation of 100 million paparazzi. That's scary," Inazo tells Shukan Post.
"Make no mistake, there'll be so many more different ways to invade people's privacy. People will be able to take and send photos of others without their knowledge. Sure,the phones are convenient, but if you consider their threat against personal privacy, there really should be some sort of legislation or regulation against them."
Phone companies say they're aware of the problem, with an NTT DoCoMo spin doctor saying his firm will ask users to consider others' privacy when using phones with a built-in camera.
And the cops are bracing themselves for worse, too.
"As of the moment, we haven't heard of any arrests in cases of mobile phones with built-in cameras being used to send indecent images or promote prostitution," a spokesman for the National Police Agency tells Shukan Post.
"But if you look at how quickly use of the Internet and mobile phones has spread, we can expect these products to be closely connected to a growing number of crimes in the not-too-distant future. We want to start cracking down on their misuse as soon as possible."
July 30, 2002