Tokyo 'seizes Google user records' over video leak
Japanese prosecutors on Tuesday seized user records from Google in an investigation into the leak of a video on YouTube showing a tense maritime incident that sparked a row with China, reports said.
The move, reported by the public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media, came after the government confirmed the authenticity of the film showing a Chinese fishing trawler colliding with two Japanese coastguard vessels in disputed waters in early September.
The footage was taken by the Japanese coastguard during the incident in the East China Sea and not released to the public for fear of inflaming the already bitter dispute with China, but it was uploaded on to YouTube on Friday.
After an in-house investigation, the coastguard on Monday brought a criminal complaint in Tokyo against an unknown suspect, citing breaches of the national public service act and other laws.
Prosecutors will analyse the record of YouTube users' IP addresses, which should enable them to identify and locate the computer used to upload the controversial footage, NHK said on Tuesday.
Japan's arrest of the Chinese trawler captain sparked a barrage of protests from Beijing that continued after Japan released him, sending relations plunging to their lowest point in years.
Google, which owns the video-sharing site, said in a statement that it would not comment on the media reports.
But a spokesman at Google Japan said in an email to AFP: "We follow the law like any other company and comply with valid legal process. When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and spirit of the law before complying."
Authorities are scrambling to gather information on who uploaded the video clip on YouTube, requesting security footage and customers' lists at Internet cafes on southern Okinawa, the Jiji Press news agency said.
Investigators suspect the person who leaked the video might have used a computer at an Internet cafe since the data was posted on YouTube at night, Jiji said.
On Monday Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologised in parliament, admitting the government had been "sloppy" in keeping the video secure.
The apparent anonymous leak follows the illicit publication online only days ago of classified anti-terrorism documents that sparked immediate criticism as Japan prepares to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
The YouTube videos came as Asia's two biggest economies are seeking to repair ties after their prime ministers, Kan and Wen Jiabao, failed at two recent summits, in Brussels and Hanoi, to hold formal bilateral talks.
World leaders, including those of Japan and China, will meet this week for a G20 summit in South Korea and then the APEC summit in Yokohama, near Tokyo.
The video, which has since been re-broadcast widely by Japanese television stations, shows the collision near a chain of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both Japan and China.
Japan's coastguard in a statement said the video on the Internet was "almost identical" to the footage its officers had edited and submitted to prosecutors in the southern city of Naha in September.
(c) 2010 AFP