The smartphone application allows text messages to be sent or calls to be made between users. Each user of LINE is required to have a unique phone number. Line checks which names in a user’s address book are also using the service and puts them in contact. There are 50 million users of the service, which started in July of last year.
Spa! says that the problem is related to third-party applications, or apps, some of which are designed to function as anonymous classified ad services. These apps allow users of LINE to openly make anonymous connections with other users by sharing their identification numbers on the message boards.
About thirty such applications have been confirmed as of July this year, and they are helping facilitate enjo kosai, or compensated dating, and other equivalent activities.
“It was last summer that we saw the sudden rise in the number of LINE apps,” says an operator of online dating sites. “We have also seen an increase in the number of female middle school and high school users who indicate that they are looking for sponsors.”
Evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (July 27) reports that a 32-year-old man was arrested for drugging two girls, aged 16 and 17, he became acquainted with through LINE.
“On the bulletin boards, the girls will say they are looking for pocket money,” an information technology writer tells Nikkan Gendai. “They’ll insinuate that they are seeking cash in exchange for sex. Erotic photos will also be exchanged. LINE is desperately trying to manage the situation.”
NHN Japan, the operator of LINE, posted an announcement on May 23 that warned users regarding the use of “unofficial LINE services.”
“We contacted those running unofficial apps,” a public relations representative at NHN tells Spa!. “Subsequently, about ten companies stopped providing such apps, and we are doing our utmost in continuing to work with the law enforcement.”
The aforementioned site operator says that bulletin boards have become outdated. “Nowadays, you only see fake posts, designed to bring in customers, from fake users on LINE’s boards,” says the operator. “You will either be directed to Web sites that charge fees or have your identification number used unlawfully. Users with any smarts are starting to shift away.”
Nikkan Gendai’s writer gave it a test run, and found a few messages from female teens and women in their 20s who “wanted to talk” and were feeling “lonely.” Then after sending a short message to some gals in their 20s and 30s, he was immediately hit with a deluge of spam responses.
Spa! says that there are also rogue apps that say they are associated with LINE but will only redirect the user to an online-dating site after installation.
The hot apps now appear to be those that provide one-on-one chatting. “An app like sumatomo (スマとも)” — which is available via Apple’s iTunes site — “is connected to a global positioning system and allows users to send messages with others in the same area,” explains the aforementioned site operator.
These types of apps are now facilitating illegal activities.
“While it is not intended for those under 18, middle school and high school girls explicitly indicate that they are offering enjo kosai services by mentioning specific fees to show that they are actively looking for patrons.” (K.N.)
Source: “Smaho no deaeru apuli ga shinkachu,” Spa! (Aug. 7, page 30)
Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.