Internet-based child prostitution crimes around Japan skyrocketed 129 percent in 2002, increasing to 268 from 117 a year earlier, according to a National Police Agency report released Thursday.

The report, presented to the National Public Safety Commission, focuses on high-tech crime, which involves illicit use of the Internet and computer systems.

Police handled 1,039 high-tech criminal cases in 2002, an increase of 229 from the previous year.

Crimes in which the Internet was used accounted for 92 percent of the total, at 958, up 246 from the year before, with child prostitution topping the list.

The NPA report says most child prostitution cases were related to online dating services. According to observers, the latest figures are further proof that such dating sites are a breeding ground for crime.

Internet child pornography was the second most frequent crime. Last year, police busted 140 cases of Net sales of pornographic photos of children, an increase of 12 from 2001.

This was followed by Internet fraud cases, at 112, up nine from 2001. Sixty of the fraud cases were linked to Internet auctions.

Police dealt with 70 juvenile protection ordinance violations, an increase of 60 from 2001.

Cases of illicit access to computer systems through such means as use of stolen passwords totaled 51, an increase of 16 over 2001.

However, cases of destruction of and tampering with computers and electronic data were down by 33 from the previous year to 30.

In 2002, police received 19,329 complaints concerning high-tech crimes nationwide, up 12 percent from 2001.

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