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Tokyo extortionists targeted peeping-pic perverts

Shukan Bunshun Dec. 3
Shukan Bunshun Dec. 3

When the hunter becomes the hunted.

At 2:00 p.m. on November 7, two men accosted a 37-year-old male office worker who had just trained the camera of his smartphone on the underwear of a seductively dressed woman riding an escalator inside the Lumine Est department store at JR Shinjuku Station.

The pair gave the photographer two choices; either he visits a consumer finance company in order to pay 1.5 million yen on the spot or he gets marched off to the police. The victim, however, decided on a third choice: Telephone the police personally.

Officers from the Shinjuku Police Station subsequently arrested the dynamic duo, 47-year-old Koichi Hiroki and Tsuyoshi Iizuka, 46, on charges of attempted extortion.  The case, says Shukan Bunshun (Dec. 3), is the result of an explosion in the number of cases of tosatsu, or the taking of illicit images, often with the target being the panties of unsuspecting women.

In 2010, the number of such cases stood at 1,741. But by last year the figure had jumped to 3,265. The magazine says the rapid spread of the smartphone is to blame for the increase.

For the case in Shinjuku, the escalators of Lumine Est had garnered immense popularity among hobbyists on the Internet as a panchira (underwear peeking) spot due to the large number of young women who frequent the store.

In carrying out the crime, it is crucial to get a female accomplice on board but one must be careful.

“The guy heard the suspects communicating by mobile phone with the supposed female victim,” an investigator tells the magazine. “So he had a hunch that the woman was complicit.”

According to the Sankei Shimbun (Nov. 19), the man telephoned police after taking refuge from the suspects inside a management office of a building housing a loan company.

Koichi Hiroki
Koichi Hiroki

Prior to their arrest, the two suspects had patrolled the Shinjuku Station area in search of targets, repeatedly carrying out the ruse, which is referred to by the name “tosatsu hunter.”

This is not the first time that law enforcement has made such an arrest. Last year, police in Osaka arrested a pair for perpetrating a similar crime at a department store in the Umeda area.

Iizuka had been busted about 10 years ago for running an illegal casino in the nearby Kabukicho red-light district. The funds from the operation were funneled to an organized crime group.

Shukan Bunshun speculates that the ongoing crackdown on organized crime is causing criminal syndicates to seek out new ways to collect revenue, perhaps including tosatsu scams — and Kiyotaka Takahashi, the superintendent general of the Tokyo police, had better have his eyes peeled. (A.T.)

Source: “ ‘Tosatsu hantaa’ no yuganda seigi arate no hanzai ni han-sha ga muragaru?” Shukan Bunshun (Dec. 3, page 47)