An interesting article on the current state of affairs: The trafficking scourge
“Yet to paint a picture of the victims of trafficking as poor, uneducated women duped into prostitution and kept under close guard would not be completely accurate. “Most cases are not that simple,” says Ms. Fujiwara of the Polaris Project.
She tells a story of one woman from an East Asian country who had a degree from a vocational school and was making a decent living in the social welfare field, but wanted to change careers and save enough money to study in Japan. She read an advertisement for a position in a café in Tokyo that would provide her with transportation and a free place to stay. The mamasan in charge of the bar even flew from Japan to meet her and interview her in person. Although her friends said it sounded sketchy, she decided to take the job and flew to Japan.
However, she soon realized that the café where she would work was really a hostess bar. Soon after she started working, the mamasan closed the bar, citing financial troubles. She provided her with a high-interest loan, and referred her to another hostess club. But her new club required dohan, which is “dating” clients, and usually included sex. Other women working at the bar advised her to do it, as it would be “dangerous” for her to refuse.
Two years later, unable to pay off her debt, she contacted Ms. Fujiwara. She was identified as a trafficking victim, and the authorities were contacted. However, soon after, she ceased contact with Ms. Fujiwara, and her whereabouts are currently unknown. The club she worked at is still in business.”
I’ve heard a million stories like this. Fucking sad. I would say that the victims are usually aware that they are in for something like this, and choose to go anyway, which makes it no less sad.
Tobita (Google Images link), the largest red light district in Osaka, is truly a side of Japan you need to see to believe. It is one of only two areas in Osaka that I’ve been to where drug dealers are brazen enough to deal in the open. The article describes open air rooms, but when I went the girls were actually displayed behind large windows ala Amsterdam. The cops patrol the area on bicycles or on foot, but the only law enforcement I saw them doing was ticketing cars on the street (but ignoring the obviously yak ones – the local saying is that there are “as many yakuza as there are girls” in Tobita).
*note: I went to Tobita with a friend, three times over the space of 12 years to see what it was about. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to see a Japanese crack whore in a kimono, or for that matter what a Japanese cop getting paid off looks like.