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14 February 2017

Japan child sex abuse network ringleader identified via INTERPOL is jailed

KYOTO, Japan – The ringleader of a child sex abuse network in Kyoto, identified via INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database, has been sentenced to eight years after being found guilty of charges including child prostitution and forcible indecency.

The conviction of the 28-year-old follows a global investigation which began in 2015 to identify an unknown abuse victim featured in videos uploaded to the ICSE database by investigators in Denmark and Australia.

Four other members of the network, men aged between 36 and 40, were convicted between October and December last year and handed down sentences ranging between two and five years.

The abusers, including a businessman, a nursing home employee and a dancer, would approach children in amusement parks, game centres and video rental shops, or in the street. After recording their crimes, the videos would be circulated via a private network.

Using the ICSE database, analysis of the child’s school uniform and sound data enabled victim identification specialists around the world, working with INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children (CAC) unit, to identify Japan as the probable location.

INTERPOL’s CAC unit alerted Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) which, determining the crime had taken place in Kyoto, notified the Kyoto Prefectural Police (KPP).

KPP immediately launched citywide investigations resulting in the child’s rescue and the arrest of his suspected abuser. Interviews with the victim triggered further enquiries, identifying and dismantling the network which was engaged in the sexual abuse of 47 boys aged between seven and 15.

“This is an outstanding example of what can be achieved through the effective and global use of INTERPOL’s ICSE database,” said Assistant Commissioner Yuichi Seki, Director for Combating Child Sexual Exploitation in NPA’s Juvenile Division.

“These are horrendous crimes which violate children’s basic rights and damage both their mind and body. Japan will continue to facilitate the exchange of child sexual abuse information and enhance cooperation with INTERPOL and law enforcement partners around the world with a view to combating this loathsome crime,” added Assistant Commissioner Seki, who also highlighted the ongoing work by the NPA and relevant ministries in drawing up a comprehensive national action plan against child sexual exploitation.

“Online child abuse investigators must think globally, via INTERPOL, to be able to act locally. That original decision to add the abuse images to ICSE resulted in global consequences, not just for the offenders, but more importantly rescuing 47 children from sexual abuse,” said Bjorn Sellstrom, INTERPOL’s CAC operations coordinator.

“These arrests are a clear and powerful demonstration of what can be achieved when investigators use the ICSE database no matter where the crime is committed or the evidence uploaded or downloaded,” added Mr Sellstrom.

In January this year, the ICSE database recorded the milestone of having assisted specialist investigators around the world identify 10,000 child abuse victims, and continues to help member countries identify an average of five victims every day.

By analysing the digital, visual and audio content of photographs and videos, victim identification experts can retrieve clues, identify any overlap in cases and combine their efforts to locate the victims.

Available through INTERPOL’s secure global police communications system, I-24/7, certified users in member countries can access the database directly and in real time, providing immediate responses to queries related to child sexual exploitation investigations.