Between October 10 of last year and September 13, employees at the operator of the site Happy Mail did not delete postings that it knew were solicitations for prostitution. Police arrested Yasuhiro Itai, the 42-year-old president of Ibec, a Fukuoka-based company that operates Happy Mail, and two other employees.
Last month, police searched the offices of Ibec and uncovered a manual written in code in which asterisk marks were used to cover up potentially illegal directions. Police believe the practice involved upper-level employees at the company.
Itai denies the allegations.
Launched in September of 2000, Happy Mail has eight million members, which is the largest of any site in the nation. For the 2014 fiscal year, revenues for the site totalled 3.6 billion yen, according to the Sankei Shimbun (Nov. 30).
The site receives approximately 40,000 posts per day. According to police, employees of adult clubs frequently post messages on the site in which they impersonate young girls seeking partners for prostitution.
The matter came to light during an investigation into a kindergarten teacher from Shiga Prefecture who was arrested in April after meeting with teenage prostitutes, including at a hotel in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward.