A long with its many benefits, the Internet has also brought new dangers, as seen in the rising number of reports of shady sites to a hotline commissioned by the National Police Agency. Over 18,500 tips were received by the Internet Hotline Center in the first half of the year, an increase of 75 percent from the same period last year.

Police attribute the rise in part to increased concern over child pornography; other tips included suicide pacts and even offers to commit murder for pay.

Organized crime is also making use of the Internet to solicit Japanese willing to sell their personal ID information for money. One Japanese about to be arrested in Thailand was able to get a passport in another name by using the family registration certificate and national health insurance card sold him by an odd-job worker. Another man recruited on the Internet agreed to legally adopt several young men, thereby giving them new family names with which they were able to obtain cash cards and cell phones (which could then be sold in China).

A different sort of online problem is illustrated by the case of a new elementary school in Yamagata Prefecture. Set to open in April next year in Higashine with 532 pupils, the school was named the Sakuranbo Shogakko, or cherry primary school, in honor of the city’s position as the center of cherry production in Japan. However after the name was chosen last December based on voting by residents, it was discovered that an adult website bore the same name, Shiritsu (private) Sakuranbo Shogakko.

Opinion was divided on whether to change the name. The mayor asserted that doing so would only legitimize the world of adult sites, but after the matter became more widely known through newspaper coverage, it was decided that any association with such a site dealing with adult video games and pornographic anime images was undesirable for the school’s young students. Therefore earlier proposals were re-examined — five more names were discovered to be associated with adult sites — and finally a new name, the Omori Elementary School (after nearby Omori Mountain) was selected.

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