Murders prompt vigilante online crime stoppers

Japanese website
The internet in Japan is like the Wild West without the sherriffs

Ever since the so-called Akihabara Geek Murders in Tokyo in June, the Japanese internet has been abuzz with talk of tighter regulation and loss of freedoms. Indeed, there have been targeted arrests over online threats in the wake of the tragedy.

So, it doesn't come as a great surprise to discover a new online crime-reporting website that offers just a taste of what we in the West may be faced with should events take a similar turn in our own home countries.

Automatic trawl – a Japanese-language website whose title means "early warning" – is the product of well-known blogger Storu Yano in response to the escalating number of problematic internet postings that are drawing the attention of authorities there.

His bare-bones site simply trawls Japanese forums and chat channels for occurrences of inflammatory terms like "murder", "I'll kill you" or anything similar. It comes in response to a government plan to do something similar on a budget of several million pounds.

Daily arrests

The search results are classified according to the type of threat and posted in a grid on the front page of At the time of writing, the list of almost 3,000 possible threats appeared to be updating every couple of hours.

Threats of rape, suicide, bombings and killing against named figures in the public eye were all recorded. Links are provided to each of them and they can be examined to determine the degree of seriousness.

According to a counter posted on the same page, Yano's site has so far drawn the attention of police sufficiently to bring about 31 arrests over such antisocial postings in July alone.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.