Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Intrigue in Kobe

Coast guard member confesses to leaking collision video
TOKYO - Investigators are set to arrest a member of the Japan Coast Guard who confessed Wednesday to leaking video of collisions between Japanese patrol boats and a Chinese trawler near the disputed Senkaku Islands, an incident that strained bilateral ties, investigative sources said.

The Metropolitan Police Department has already begun questioning the individual, who is a crew member of a patrol boat attached to the Kobe Coast Guard Office, on suspicion of violating a law requiring government employees to preserve the confidentiality of information they obtain through work, the sources said.

Japan Coast Guard Commandant Hisayasu Suzuki said at the House of Representatives Budget Committee that he heard that the crew member confessed to the captain of the coast guard patrol vessel Uranami while on board at around 9:30 a.m. The ship has since returned to Kobe.

The crew member’s confession came after investigators analyzed records seized from Google Inc, the operator of YouTube, and found that the leaked video was posted from a personal computer at an Internet cafe in the western Japan port city. Investigators plan to analyze customer records and security camera videotapes obtained from the Internet cafe in order to identify the sender, the sources said.

The video of the collisions has been stored at the coast guard’s offices in Ishigaki and Naha, both in Okinawa Prefecture.

The Kobe Coast Guard office is not involved in police investigations into the incident.

The leaked video totaling about 44 minutes was posted on the YouTube video-sharing website on Nov 4 and removed the following day after an edited version of the video lasting less than seven minutes was shown to a limited number of parliamentarians on Nov 1.

The posting of the footage on YouTube prompted the coast guard to file criminal complaints with the investigative authorities Monday.

The prosecutors used a search warrant to seize records Tuesday from YouTube LLC, a Google unit, on persons posting videos after Google reportedly indicated it would be difficult to voluntarily release such records due to its privacy protection rules.

Following the Sept 7 incident, the coast guard arrested the skipper of the Chinese fishing boat on suspicion of obstructing public duties by ramming one of its Japan Coast Guard ships near the islands in the East China Sea, sparking tensions between the Asian neighbors. The captain was later released.
from Japan Today

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