Japan: Confidential Police Files Leaked, Again

What do a group of sex crime victims, police informants, traffic violators, members of Japan's largest crime syndicate and a man being stalked by his girlfriend all have in common this week? If you count yourself as part of any of these groups, and particularly if you live in the Suginami Ward of Tokyo, you might want to check that your personal information was not among the 10,000 confidential police files — 9000 documents including private testimony, interrogation reports, bank account numbers, licence plate numbers and personal reports, as well as 1000 photos — that were leaked onto the Internet early Tuesday morning.

According to news reports, at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning, confidential police information, originally stored on the computer of a 26-year-old senior policeman of the Kitazawa police station in Setagaya, Tokyo, began appearing on the hugely popular Japanese bulletin board service 2channel. Apparently the police officer, contrary to instructions issued last year by bureau chiefs, had installed the file-sharing software Winny on his personal computer. The officer's computer reportedly already having been infected with a computer virus, all pieces were in place for an information leak on a massive scale.

As soon as the data was posted, a flood of messages to 2channel started to pour in, prompting the creation of a wiki page exclusively to the incident. Those who dug into the details of the data files found more than a few secrets they were never meant to know about.

Reactions to the information leak among bloggers for the most part expressed frustration and outrage. Much of bloggers’ anger was directed at the fact that a very similar type of incident happened just over a year ago, prompting the introduction of new countermeasures which apparently didn't work. Compounding this situation, very recently confidential information was leaked by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in a case which attracted considerable publicity.

An early comment (#35) on the 2channel bulletin board, posted by m r g n on the 13th at 16:10, summarizes the feelings of many:


again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again […] again again again — they used it [Winny] again

Blogger nekotsume echoes the sentiment in slightly more verbose terms:




Stupid police.

How many times do they have to repeat the same thing before they are satisfied?

On top of everything else, this time the amount of leaked data is apparently enormous… this is a good example of what happens when idiots use tools [like this].






Oh… so stupid. Don't these government workers have the capacity to learn?

What are they going to do about this? The information from investigations that was leaked, this is really serious stuff, no?

As people are asking on the thread [of 2channel's itai news blog], how do they intend to take responsibility if there is secondary damage [to the people who's information was leaked]?

Well, as always, people will probably try to escape by pinning responsibility on viruses or on Winny software developers, etc., etc… and the same thing will be repeated again.






They should let the developers deal with it, but they will not do that — are the police brain-dead?

Anyways for now, I'm just wondering how they are going to deal with all the leaked information.

Are they going to be held responsible?

And also, the images that were used in the news were used arbitrarily.

They [the images] are made to look as if to say 2-channel is the bad guy, and I guess this is one of their ways of dodging their responsibility.

Blogger newskaisetsu, who lives in Kitazawa, was also angry:

あれ? 警察の情報がWinnyに流出するのは、これで何度目でしょうか?

What? Police information getting leaked through Winny — how many times has this happened now?
In the case of huge organizations as large as the police forces, I guess that teaching every last person is an impossible task.

 え〜と、今度は北沢警察署…? あれれ、ウチの近所じゃないですか。私は特段警察のお世話になっていないので、私の個人情報は入っていないと思いますが、「お世話になった人たち」にとっては心配かもしれません。

Umm… the Kitazawa police station this time…? Oh no, isn't that the station in my neighbourhood? I'm not a particular concern of the police, so I don't think my personal information is included [in their files], but for “people being dealt with by the police” this might be worrying.

Blogger nagas questions the focus of the media on the software Winny rather than punishment for the police officer:


The media coverage of the Winny incident is all directed at Winny itself, and the starting point, 2channel, but why has there been no questions about punishment for the department and the individual? Most of the scenes on TV programs show software used on the bulletin board 2channel and some documents that seem to be those that were leaked.


If the justice system and the mass media blames it on the software because they think it makes the situation better, then I can only say that they are just a bunch of idiots. It's like they don't even realize that they are dealing with a man-made disaster as if it is a natural disaster.


There is no connection between this incident and the pros and cons of the influence of Winny, so these should be discussed and dealt with as separate issues. The most important fact is that the information was leaked in the first place, so people should go over carefully the means to isolate this type of information and for the individual to be thorough with respect to security.

Blogger chako makes some suggestions:


Officials of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and police officers are the people who, I believe, handle the most important information in Japan.
However, they have become the source of information leaks and have been covered as scandals.


If this was a private company, paying attention to basic security, then installing file-sharing software — particularly Winny — on desktop computers would of course be prohibited by the organization.
For the most part, Winny is used by people who do not have copyright authority and who use it to illegally exchange for-profit data for movies, music, etc., at no cost.


The act of having the Winny software may not be, in and of itself, illegal at the present time.
However, people who use Winny are people who want to get their hands on illegally copied material, and these people go as far as clearly committing copyright infringement [to do this].


They might be thinking that in gathering data that falls in the range of personal hobbies they are OK.
It was, after all, very popular in Japan, not a long time ago, to illegally copy for-profit software…


People who really want to use Winny should set up a different computer, exclusively for use of Winny.
And, it needs to be made a rule that no classified information should be save on this computer.


This technique is what is called a sequestration system.
By all means, when using Winny, use the sequestration system.

Finally, blogger kyasubaruniisan asks about the rights of the victims:


It's been said many times before, but just because you can stab a person with a kitchen knife, does not make the knife manufacturer a bad person.
Well, in the cases of kitchen knives and [the software] Winny, there is a difference in the aspect of “why they appeared in this world” from the beginning.

警察が被害者の傷をさらに深くえぐってどうするの? 被害者の人権はどこにあるの?

Really, there is nothing you can say but that they are “stupid”.
Why, of all things, was this person using Winny on a computer terminal that contained work-related materials?
And on top of that, detailed personal information related to content about victims’ injuries and damage was also apparently there.
And another thing, what are the police doing adding further insult to the victims’ injuries? What happened to the victims’ rights?


The senior policeman is not a “victim”,
– in the past, however many times it was said that these tools are “dangerous and therefore should not be used”,
– even so, [these tools] were used on PCs containing sensitive files for institutional use only.
This will not be resolved until it is made clear that he is the malicious person who is responsible for this.
And on top of this, from the very beginning, weren't they lying when they said: “We're not using Winny.” (I forget the source.)


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.