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Line message app linked to rise in sexual offenses involving young people

Kyodo

The Line instant messaging app for smartphone users is growing increasingly popular with young people, and now the carrier is faced with a rise in sex-related crimes involving teenage girls.

In April, police arrested a 36-year-old man, a registered first-grade architect, on suspicion of buying sex from a junior high school girl whom he met online via the Line service. The suspect first got in contact with the girl by posting comments on Line’s message board.

More and more young people looking for friends post their Line user IDs, which function as phone numbers and email addresses, on message boards. Users can find out the actual party and make contact.

People under 18 who were victimized via social-networking sites that were not online dating sites numbered 1,076 in 2012, up from 792 in 2008, the National Police Agency said.

“There are cases in which (the app) is used like online dating sites,” a senior Metropolitan Police Department official said.

In April, a Maritime Self-Defense Force member, 47, was arrested for forcing a young girl he met with via Line to send him naked pictures.

“As (the app) is free, it is easily accessible for juveniles,” said a senior Miyagi police official involved in the MSDF member’s arrest.