A member of a Japanese copyright watchdog group may be sent to Hong Kong to monitor VCD piracy and work with local Customs and Excise officers. Representatives of Japan's Council for Copyright Protection of Television Programmes said yesterday they were staggered at the interest in Japanese VCDs in Hong Kong. Although the Customs and Excise Department admitted it had been aware of the problem for the past year, the department only alerted Japanese officials last month. Council spokesman Hiroshi Sasaki said Japan had no legal powers to prosecute Hong Kong-based pirates or retailers. 'It has taken some time for us to understand what was really going on in Hong Kong.' He said that after Thursday's raid in the Sino Centre in Nathan Road, Mongkok, in which 150 Customs officers seized 200,000 pirated discs from 26 shops, the group would consider sending a representative to communicate with local authorities. Makito Sugiyama, representing Japan's TBS television network, said Hong Kong and Taiwan were problem areas for piracy of Japanese products. Calvin Leung Ho, the head of the department's Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau, said the 29 people arrested in Thursday's raid would face criminal charges. More than 40,000 suspected pirated VCDs of Japanese TV dramas worth about $400,000 were seized by Customs officers and 18 men arrested in a shopping arcade in Shan Tung Street, Mongkok, yesterday.