Enjo Kosai: "Compensated Dating"


Name Brand Beauties for Sale

Before the child ever gets to school it will have received crucial, almost irrevocable sex education
and this will have been taught by the parents, who are not aware of what they are doing.

- Dr Mary S Calderone

by Jennifer Liddy

Two girls spread out on the sidewalk in front of the 7-Eleven 24-hour convenience store.  It's past midnight but the air is balmy and smells of sea breeze, grilled meat and train exhaust.  The girl on the left is named Mariko.  She wears a Gucci, triangle-cut, tight, short-sleeved, powder-blue T-shirt with psychedelic butterfly decals.  Her friend, Yumi, looks identical, except for her hair, which is clipped up in a knot and held by a Burberry's barrette.  They both carry Fendi bags that match the black DNKY jeans they have cut down into short-shorts.  They're cute as in Hello Kitty cute, not the sexy nymphs they think they are with their expensive name brand clothes.  They look comic with smudges of Channel purple metallic lipstick on their front teeth.  Their Dior sapphire-blue eye shadow drives their eyes inward, making them look a little like cross-eyed circus clowns.  They clutch their Peace brand cigarettes, letting the smoke pour out their mouths, suggesting to anyone who takes a second look that they're just normal, average Japanese teenagers.

Don't turn away.  Keep watching.  Notice Mariko.  See how she clings to her cell phone for dear life.  Her eyes scan the train station across the street, checking out a man's ass here, sizing up a woman's style there.  She has hungry, greedy eyes that never blink but gulp it all in.  Check out Yumi.  Observe how she unfastens her wallet and how her fingertips pass over the bills.  How much is in there?  More than 50,000 yen.  How can a girl have that kind of money?  Why aren't these girls in bed?  Summer vacation is going to end in less than a month; their book reports aren't even started.

Mariko's cell phone rings.  The ringer is a song by the hip new band, Dragon Ash.  The tune is called That's Life.  It's a rap-love combo, moaning about, what else - not letting life get you down.  A good theme song for these girls.  Life never gets them down and it takes Mariko less than a second to whip open her cell phone and whisper "Moshe, moshe."  A few minutes later, as Yumi fixes a few loose strands of her dyed auburn hair, a four-door white Honda pulls up.  The driver parks by the curb and flips on his hazards.  Yumi heads over to car and yells over her shoulder to Mariko.  "It's okay.  Let's go."

Mariko, always meticulous, marks down the time and date in her cell phone's digital calendar.  Together, they disappear into the white Honda that, during the day drives toddlers to daycare.  Much later, they flow back home a little wasted on Asahi Super Dry beer, in need of a shower but 8,000 yen richer.

And their mothers, you're wondering, where are they?  How come they don't stop this?  Mariko tells her mother she is studying.  Yumi says she is too.  Since both girls have working parents, who are overloaded with jobs and caring for their own ageing parents, nobody checks out the story.  Sure, there is suspicion, but no one wants to confront it.  The girls are just girls having fun.  This is Japan after all, not Thailand.

Now, let's turn to Monday morning and peek at the girls.  Take a guess.  Do you think that Yumi and Mariko will be sneaky-chain-smoking never-on-time glue-sniffing students?  Do you think these girls will be the scamps of the village?  Bad to the bone, right?  Maybe not.

This time, look beyond the midnight neon light, beyond the expensive name brands clothes, beyond that reckless jump into an unknown car.  You will see something incredibly normal, maybe even boring.  You will see what I see everyday of the week; Mariko and Yumi, together as always, dressed in their issued blue skirts, white shirts with maroon ribbons at the neck and blue jackets.  On their feet are track shoes with an orange stripe, representing that they are in their last year of high school.  Yumi and Mariko are young, conscientious girls who attend my elective English class.  They are bright, want to attend university and have a sense of persuasion that convinces me seeing Brad-o Pitt-o on screen, in Ocean's 11, is a great way to get a feel for real American culture.

When you get to know Yumi and Mariko, talk with them, joke over soba, you can't figure out what is more alarming; their late night pay outs or the way they can switch back to their ordinary lives.  In a strange way that only adolescents can feel, these girls care what their mothers think.  They listen to them, help with their younger siblings.  They show no outward signs of troublemaking in school.  Mariko and Yumi, in a sense, are like the typical Japanese teenagers that I have come to love.  They are filled with controversies on the inside - worried about college placement, boyfriends, club activities, new videos, print club, fashion, and independence.  You name it; these students will stress over it.  They look the same as the next on the outside.  The only rule the girls break is that they have cell phones hidden in their book bags.  Tiny, not even the size of a face powder compact their grandmothers used at the same age, these cell phone make them distinctive, catapult them into adventure and make possible their new, money-making pastime.

What Yumi and Mariko do at night and on the weekends, and how they behave in their daily lives, is a bizarre phenomena occurring all across Japan, from the cities to the inaka.  No place is without these types of girls, including the town where I live.  The Japanese call what Yumi and Mariko "do" enjokosai. in Japanese, the word translates into "compensated dating."  It is a polite word that has become synonymous for teenage prostitution.  Enjokosai is a touchy and sometimes embarrassing subject to discuss.  Many Japanese choose to ignore the fact that it provides more money than a female adolescent will ever earn at a part time job.  No one wants to admit that it gives the girls freedom and lets them get away from the familiar sights of their village.  No one dares utter that the girls can investigate their sexual passions.

Enjokosai is a hush-hush style of teenage prostitution.  Unlike the horror stories of chained-up, child prostitutes, enjokosai doesn't happen in back alleys.  These girls don't hustle on the streets.  There's no Pimp-san lurking in the shadows.  If there were, Yumi and Mariko wouldn't have any coins in their Fendis after a night in Asahi Mura.  Instead, like everything else in Japan, from electric heated toilets to MP3 players the sizes of an aspirin, enjokosai relies on technology.

The girls operate pagers, cell phones, and computers to arrange "encounters" with older and often married men.  The device most commonly used is the cell phone.  Since most Japanese own one, a teenage girl walking around with one attached to her ear does not attract attention.  Cell phones have the added bonus of keeping the "dates" on low down, something that keeps enjokosai a side option for any teenage girl hoping to buy that highly sought after Gucci belt with matching boots.  The cell phone of choice these days is the latest J-Phone model.  It is called Dreme.  Small, shell pink and so kawaii, it runs anywhere between 25,000 to 45,000 yen, depending on whether you want the mini digital camera option.  Mariko and Yumi both have one.  The girls tell me the cell phones and beepers come in handy when the "dates" want to continue the "conversations".

Since the rise of cell phone use by young girls, Japan has felt a new surge of secret lust.  It came in form of - what else? - a club.  About 10 years ago, "telephone clubs" began to open everywhere.  A telephone club, by Japanese terms, is a place where people wait for telephone calls, from anyone, and then talk.  They are sort of like the big boom version of the sex lines that were so hugely popular in States during the 1980s.  The difference is that in the States, women ran the lines and the interaction stayed there.  In Japan, teenage girls meet the callers in person.  The number of Japanese telephone clubs multiplies each year, and the amount of people who use telephone clubs for sexual relations increases at a similar pace.

Girls like Yumi and Mariko list their cell phone numbers with an operator or, if they want to be on the cautious side, register on-line in a web page specifically geared for enjokosai.  These web sites are called deai-kei; in English, it means "match making."  Whether it's on the cell phone or website, both are avenues to enjokosai.

Curious, I check some of them out.  By my count, there are thousands of numbers.  In the Niigata prefecture alone, a prefecture that boasts the best rice production in all of Japan, over 300 girls are listed on a deai-kei.  I tally over 25 cell phone numbers just in my town and the towns next to mine.  It is hard to believe I live in rural Japan.  It astonishes me that my little speck of a village, which appears, on the surface, to be squeaky clean and drowning in family values, has an another reality entirely.

Once the girls file their names and cell phone numbers with a network, they sit back and wait for customers to call.  And man, do they ever.  The list of messages Mariko and Yumi show me on their cell phones would make Madame Heidi think she was in the baking business.  Number after number shows men seeking young girls for "dates," dinner, conversation and more.  But these girls can be finicky.  They can call the callers back and schedule a date or decline it.  If they decide to go on the date, the instant it is arranged, the girls fix themselves up depending on their mood, wear whatever they feel like, and wait to be picked up at the agreed upon spot.

"It's easy, really," Mariko explains.  "Whatever you feel like wearing, you do and then you wait.  Sometimes I put on all my best stuff, other times I do what me and Yumi call, the kawaii bimbo look."  Kawaii bimbo in Japanese means cute (kawaii) poor (bimbo) look.  For this, the girls use their three-year old Chanel bags and dress down.  It sounds like the perfect catch: show 'em you're poor and they buy new things for you.

"Does it work?" I ask.

"You like my new bracelet?" Yumi says.  I check out the silver Tiffany heart bracelet dangling from her tiny wrist.  Although the newspapers and financial agencies claim Japan's economy is in the dumpster, somehow, somewhere, someone has enough money to shower young girls for their services.

"So cool.  Segoy, ne," I lie, hoping the girls will be flattered and keep on talking.  "Well, how does it work?" I ask.

"Simple.  You just go and have a good time.  Have a coffee or a coke.  Hang out.  Talk.  Do something.  You can do anything really.  Why you want to give it a try, Jennifer-sensei?"  Mariko giggles and shakes her hips like she's doing a defunct version of the mambo.

"Yeah, right.  This body's had a baby, girl," I say and wiggle my hips back at them.  "So, where do you go?" I press.  "Aren't you afraid someone might see you?"

"Ie.  No one sees us.  Trust me," Yumi pipes in.  "We make them take us far away from Asahi Mura.  The farther the better."

"Yeah, away from Asahi Mura there are restaurants like bigger than a room.  So segoy, so cool.  You know, have you ever eaten Indian food?" Mariko asks.

"Once," I lie, not wanting to get her off the subject.  The next question I want to ask will make or break my relationship with the girls.  If Yumi and Mariko think I'm too nosey, they won't talk.  If they think I push too hard, I won't know anything at all.  "Can I ask you something personal," I start, crossing my fingers behind my back, "Are you expected to have sex with the dates, you know, the men?"

Mariko and Yumi both roll their eyes at me and are silent for a minute.  No one says a word.  I can feel them slipping away and shutting down their confidences with me.  In a desperate attempt to win them back, I wiggle my hips back and forth and shout out, mambo, mambo.  It breaks the mood a little and we laugh.

"I knew you would ask," Mariko finally says and tosses her hair.  Then she grins at me.  Yumi starts to laugh.  They shrug their shoulders at me.

"Girls never kiss and tell," Yumi giggles and swings a new Gucci bag over her shoulder.

During the early 1990's enjokosai was a hot topic with the media.  Many high profile cases shocked the public, especially those where the people buying the sex where men in positions of high public trust, such as teachers, police officers, and even a judge.  Ordinary Japanese, who hadn't a clue as to what was really going on at the convenience store down by the train station, were inundated with teen interviews, polls, and flash-trash talk shows.  Then, like all scandals, the frenzy around this one died down, and enjokosai faded again into the background.  With less coverage and no real changes, the ignorance grew and the abuse continued.  Still, there are many people who remain dedicated to exposing enjokosai, and who work to help young girls find a better way to buy name brands.

Mamoru Fukutomi, a psychology professor at Tokyo Gakugei University, is one of the leaders in getting to the marrow of this phenomenon.  The Asian Women's Fund, one of the biggest feminist organisations in Japan, asked him to conduct a survey about enjokosai.  Fukutomi chose about 960 high school girls at random to poll.  Of them, only 63%, or 600, responded.  Of the girls who had "experienced" enjokosai, 23% said they had sex.  Another 23% engaged in sexual activities other than sexual intercourse (for example, kissing or oral sex).  48% said they merely talked or had drinks with their dates.

When asked why the girls sold their bodies to older men the girls responded with intriguing answers.  13 girls said they wanted money.  Four did it because a man suggested it.  Three girls thought it caused no problems with anyone else.  Three did it for fun.  Two did it because they knew they could quit at anytime.  One girl said she wanted stimulation, another was lonely, and another just let it happen without much thought, while another said she needed to blow off some steam and another girl wanted to have sex.

When asked how they felt after dating middle-aged men, 9 said they regretted it.  Another 9 answered that they were disgusted with the men.  Six worried about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; 5 felt they couldn't tell anyone about it; 4 felt bad for their parents; 2 thought about doing it again.  One felt she could never go back to living a normal life.  One felt nothing of it.

Fukutomi found that girls who "experience" enjokosai or feel no qualms about it tend to be susceptible to the media, and their peers.  He suggests that they may be indifferent about their future and fear getting old.  Finally, and most remarkably, Fukutomi feels that the girls may see being a high school girl as a brand-name quality.  Of all these answers, the last one is the most mysterious to me.  Coming as I do from a country where 5-year-olds demand Gap clothes and frown at K-mart toys, I don't find it significant that girls in high school feel that their life is like a name brand, like they are a living advertisement.  But I do find amazing the way the Japanese girls have gone a step further, trading their own brand-name merchandise to get the brand names they want.  This is how they get the goods, transforming their girlhood into a fixed price, brand name for brand name.

The Japanese see enjokosai in a far less sophisticated and more benign light.  Many Japanese sociologists argue that enjokosai is a mechanism which youth are using to pass through the adolescent period into adulthood.  From the enjokosai "experience" young girls learn how to have mature relationships.  They interact with older men.  They learn how to converse, how to go out to dinner, how to behave themselves with the opposite sex.  Since most Japanese girls and boys have no chance to interact, except during the school hours or at club practice, this is a way for girls to see themselves in a romantic "love-like" situation.  Yet the idea of underage girls experimenting with sex for money with men double their age is not seen as a moral concern.  The girls earn money and buy whatever they want, be it the name brand items that keep them the same as everyone or something else.

Some dissident voices exist, to be sure.  These usually claim that enjokosai exemplifies the superficiality of Japanese relationships.  People - in this case young, immature girls - go through the motions - act, as it were - but are not touched down deep in their souls.  In other words, enjokosai is a sweet transaction.  Either way, enjokosai seems to illustrate the emptiness of relationships and the need to find something to curb loneliness.

Solutions to enjokosai, regardless of what one believes its sources are, vary.  Many people, like those in my village, demand ethics education for girls who sell their bodies to buy expensive brand-name clothing.  Others dismiss enjokosai as anything but wrong.  Still others think like Sano, a child who was quoted in the Daily Yomiuri, an English language newspaper.  "There were many people," he observed, "who said enjokosai in Japan was a form of exploitation.  But I don't necessarily agree.  Some people become involved in compensated dating of their own accord while others are forced to enter the trade.  Those who choose to work in the field have the right to make their own decisions."  Even though Sato is 12 years old and his mother makes all his decisions, his view is very common.  The idea that young girls have a choice and choose to sell their bodies does not seem bizarre or a strange or even a moral concern.  The view, in fact, is just the opposite.  These girls are making their situation work for them.  They receive payment for a service.  They are making business deals.  The men who solicit dates from the underage girls are not even mentioned.  Enjokosai falls squarely on the girl's shoulders.

When a sensational case of enjokosai erupts, the majority of Japanese people consider the girls law-breakers.  The girls involved, should they get in trouble, asked for it.  The girls, should some physical harm come to them, deserved it.  They dressed sleazy.  They solicited dates with older men.  They engaged in sexual tricks not for love but cash.  And what about the men, I wonder?  Are they just innocent bystanders, lonely and wanting the company of a young girl?  Why doesn't anyone mention the men when they talk about enjokosai?  Why has enjokosai become teenage prostitution and not pædophilia?

During an o-cha break at my high school, I ask a veteran teacher what she thinks about the girls who hang out at the 7-Eleven.  She sucks in her teeth and turns her head to the side.  I have seen this gesture many times.  It is used by Japanese when hard questions are asked or when they have to give a negative answer.

"They are young and indifferent to how things should be.  They know little.  They think they are only buying but they are the price tags," she sighs.

"What about the men?" I ask.  This teacher has been married for over 20 years.  Her husband works in Tokyo for a big company.  They see each other once every 2 months.  No doubt this teacher has worried many times that her husband is sneaking out on her.  Any Japanese woman would, given the statistic that 60% of Japanese married men have flings.

"It is so complicated.  Muszukashi, ne?  The men are lonely, don't go to their wives.  They should be with women their own age, not young girls.  So young, ne."

"Isn't that a crime?  Sex with a minor?"  The teacher nods and sighs.  I take this to mean that it is a crime and it is a problem and she doesn't know what to do about it.  None of the other teachers I speak with perceive the girls as victims.  "Victim," one of the bolder teachers says, "That's an outrageous thing to say.  Can't you make out black from white?"

I could and what I grasp is this.  These girls are victims.  Sufferers of poor choices, of a pædophile who can come and shell out paper for young bodies and escape justice.  These girls are prostitutes in one of the richest countries in the world.  They are sucked into having what everyone else has and their need for it is like a drug.  Brand name buys the reputation.  The want for their young bodies rises each month.  I don't tell the other teachers at my school what I really think.  I would never dream of revealing my true feeling about enjokosai.  I have learned already that in Japan, it is far better to mimic the response you get then to give your own.  Like the Japanese saying goes, the nail that sticks up gets nailed down.

The teachers know that some of their female students are involved in enjokosai.  They feel, I think, that there is no way to stop it.  The Board of Education already implemented sex education courses and work programs, but it is not  enough.  Real skills in the real world only matter if you see the Big Picture and these girls don't.  The campaign go stop enjokosai in Asahi Mura is slow.  To end it you must find it and finding it is a problem.  Since the girls are from middle class homes, and show no guilt - they are not rebellious or trouble makers - they are not easily identified.  The men are the same.  They could be the mailman, shopkeeper, mayor, policeman, or a sushi chief.  They could be sneaking off to have a coffee on a date or it could just be their daughter.  Any man walking down the street with a young girl could be involved in enjokosai.  You can't tell.  There are no outwards signs of physical affection between couples, so who knows who is sleeping with whom.

Japanese teachers, in general, are expected to care for their students.  Care translates into doing whatever is needed for the student's well being.  Often the teachers at my high school stay at school until 10 at night, do home visits and constantly call parents.  Yet, tell one of my teachers to hide out on the streets and wait for the pick up, might not be in their contract.  Plus, if there is no visible trouble, then why look for it, the teachers seem to think.

Before I came to Asahi Mura there was a horrible case of enjokosai that caused national attention.  No doubt Fukutomi read about it.  It was in all the newspapers and even the big NHK, Japan's national television channel, aired the story.  It is a case that drives the high school teachers crazy.  It makes the mayor turn red in the face and the supermarket cashiers cover their hands over their mouths when you mention it.  Even Yumi and Mariko, so high on Dragon Ash and the smell of newly purchased clothes, don't like to think about it, especially when it is their first date with someone new.  According to the teachers at my high school, one very lost girl, whom we will call Girl X, became involved in enjokosai but couldn't keep herself together.  Two years ago during the summer, Girl X had a "fling" with a 38-year-old pædophile.  From a town 2 hours away, he was practically unknown.  He was good looking, a big spender, and moved slow.  Slow enough that when he did ask for sexual favors, Girl X couldn't say no.  He wanted a threesome; he got it.  He wanted to watch as she masturbated, fine.  He wanted to fuck her up the ass, he did.  By that November, the girl had a confirmed diagnosis of an STD, a pregnancy scare, and a black eye.  Then she ran away to Tokyo.  Her family can only guess what has happened to her.

Girl X's specific case is what you would expect, if you think teen prostitution should come with expectations.  She was a poor student, on the fringes of academic and social life.  She had no intention of sticking around Asahi Mura with its 12,324 inhabitants.  Her teachers labelled her delinquent, or guhan: prone to criminal acts.  All her teachers, her parents, and everyone else were troubled about the girl.  But she had asked for it.  Hadn't she?  Even Mariko and Yumi think she shouldn't have gotten involved.

"We are doing this for other reasons," Mariko insists.  "That other girl, she didn't even spend her money.  She never even had a DNKY bag and she could have bought 4 with all the money she made."

"So she did it for what?"

"Who knows?  Baka.  Baka.  Stupid.  Listen, Jennifer-sensei, this is a fun kinda date, you know.  I have no clue what she was up to."

"What are you doing it for then?  Wasn't Girl X the same as you?" I ask.

"Not right in the head.  Too caught up.  She forgot who she was.  We know who we are," Yumi chimes in.

"We can get out of this any time.  Not that one.  No way, Jose, right?"

"Yeah, you got it," I answer, wondering how they can remember the dumbest English words and not figure out that they are the same as Girl X.  Unlucky girls, I think.  Yumi and Mariko chatter on and ask me which designer clothes I wear.  They don't believe me when I use a French accent and say K-Mart.

When girls like Girl X are raped or beat up they can turn to the police.  There are laws, after all, against rape and sex with a minor.  Strict and severe punishment is handed out for those found guilty.  Sexual abuse lawyers in Japan enjoy a 90% conviction rate, but only if the victim talks.  And victims in Japan rarely talk.  According to a report by the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, "there is a very strong public sentiment that sexual abuse is a shameful experience for the victim, and in turn her family.  Thus it should not be made open.  Therefore, it is certain that child sexual abuse is very much underreported and very little is known about the issue to the Japanese public."  (ESCAP 1:45).  In other words, they become double victims.  They are victims firstly of sexual abuse and secondly of silence.  In the case of Girl X, it was the same.  She might have entered enjokosai with qualms, but to be raped and report it would double the shame.

Yumi and Mariko don't think about being raped.  They don't think the car they get into might not take them where they want to go.  They don't think a man might carry a knife or force them or beat them or use them.  "Why don't you think this is a possibility?  It could happen and then what?" I ask.  But they deny it.  Say they're lucky.  Say they know the men they get into cars with.  Say their heads are on tight.  Say they know it all and I ask the wrong questions.  Then they say goodbye.

Stopping enjokosai remains one of the most challenging tasks facing Japanese society.  Fukutomi suggests that to stop girls from prostituting themselves, one must teach them that men and women are equals.  He offers that Japanese society must change into one that respects and values young women.  This will not, of course, be easy.  To change a centuries old way of thinking about women will take many decades and much pulling of hair.  Still, there have been some monumental changes in how women are viewed in Japan.  Tanaka was the first woman Foreign Minister of Japan.  Although she was fired, a woman replaced her.  Women doctors and lawyers are on the rise.  Girls are as active as boys.

And in Japan, as in all societies battling teenage prostitution, there are some obvious steps that can be taken.  The most obvious may be to cease the production of schoolgirl porn.  According to a 1998 Interpol report, (quoted by the Japan Committee for UNICEF) it was learned that about 80% of the child pornography circulating around the world originates in Japan.  The majority of the porn is girls in school uniforms.  Their school skirts are cut down into minis with just the glimpse of their bare asses peeking out.  The "school girl seeks older man for experience" type of porn is very prevalent here.  You can buy it anywhere.  Is it any wonder that so many men are involved in enjokosai?  Sex is everywhere but nowhere.  The sexual taboo of having intercourse or oral sex with an underage girl is accepted, if it is kept silent.

"What did you do this weekend?" I ask my Monday morning elective, English class.  Nothing much.  Study.  Sleep.  I hear answers from the more daring students.  Mariko and Yumi rest their chins in their hands.  They offer me blank stares when I ask them directly what they did this weekend.

"Just hung out."

"Really.  Where?"

Mariko looks at Yumi and then they both look back at me and shrug their shoulders.  I let it go.

For the day's lesson, I hand out a story by Joyce Carol Oates, Where are You Going Where Have You Been?  Most American girls read it in high school or in their freshmen year of college.  It is a story much like Yumi and Mariko's.  The main character is a 15-year-old, boy-crazy, innocent girl named Connie.  She is attracted to a boy named Alfredo in a parking lot, and meets him.  Later he comes to her home.  He kidnaps her, rapes her and no doubt kills her.  It is a harsh story of miscalculation.  A brutal vignette of how girls don't think strange men can be dangerous.  Every student I have taught, since I have been a teacher, has read this story.

"Read this story to yourself," I tell the class.  "Mark the words you don't know and look them up in the dictionary."  It is a boring exercise but I hear no moans.  Students get out their pink highlighters and notebooks.  They begin to read.  The room is silent; I can hear the class down the hall calling out mathematical equations.  I sit and watch the faces of my students as they struggle over the words.  I wonder how much they retain and if they feel at all for the characters.  Before the bell rings I tell them to write in their journals.  Write about what you think of the story, I tell them as they file out of the room.  Yumi and Mariko are the last ones to go.

"What did you think?"

"Poor Connie, ne.  I thought Alfredo was bad from the start," Yumi says.

"So dumb, ne.  Many girls like that in America, Jennifer-sensei?" Mariko asks.

"Yeah," I say, "too many Connies in the world.  So sad, so much wasted, ne."

Jennifer Liddy is a freelance writer and an employee of the Japanese Ministry of Education

Source: freezerbox.com 14 March 2002 society section ©1998-2002 Infocrat Systems; all rights reserved

Please note - I did not make the following title up...

Pervert Pays for Patronising Prepubescent Prostitutes

Kochi - A pædophile has been jailed for 30 months for using the services of two prepubescent prostitutes, a Kochi court has ruled.  Keigo Matsushima, 26, has admitted before the Kochi District Court that he paid ¥10,000 to an 11-year-old girl to have sex with her on 20 April this year, then repeated the act on her 12-year-old friend the following day.

"Underage prostitution is a big social problem.  Moreover, the harm his actions have brought upon the young girls is enormous," presiding judge Tetsuo Sano said in handing down the sentence on Wednesday.  Matsushima, of Kochi, followed the fate of a fellow local pædophile who separately used the services of the same girls some days later.  In August, 33-year-old Koji Takimoto was imprisoned for four years for having sex with the 12-year-old elementary school pupil on 26 April, then with the 11-year-old girl two days later.  He paid the girls ¥30,000 and ¥20,000, respectively.

Takimoto was hit with a harsher sentence after admitting that he had habitually hired prostitutes since around 1996 and often videotaped himself having sex sessions with them.  Takimoto and Matsushima, who are unacquainted, picked up the girls through a telephone matchmaking service.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun 26 September 2002

Slanted Sex Culture Stoking Deviant Desire in Schoolgirls

Mamoru Fukutomi, professor at Tokyo Gakugei University, attributes problems involving teen-age prostitution through Internet dating sites to men's distorted awareness of sexuality and a lack of appropriate sexual education.  "As a rapidly growing number of people have portable phones, internet dating sites are replacing telephone dating clubs and telephone message services as hotbeds for teen-age prostitution.  However, teen-age prostitution is based on the same problem.  The problem is that young girls are victimised by men," Fukutomi, 59, said.

"Many teen-age girls involved in prostitution have family problems.  They tend to be unable to exercise self-restraint, act impulsively and feel lonely.  Many of them either have few chances to talk with their parents or are overprotected by their parents.  The looser their relations with their parents, the less reluctant they are to prostitute themselves.  However, they are victims in a way and men who buy them are to blame."

He pointed out that Japan's sex culture is peculiar, noting that people are constantly exposed to sex through such media as advertising posters hung in trains, newspapers and magazines.  "When I studied American pornographic magazines, I had difficulties gathering samples.  To prevent children from seeing them they aren't sold at regular outlets.  It's absurd that such magazines can be easily bought at convenience stores in Japan.

Fukutomi added that men's views on sexuality have been generally distorted by massive amounts of misinformation provided by the media.  "As far as sex is concerned, many Japanese men firmly believe 'the younger their partners are, the better.'  This is because they have been influenced by the media.  However, sexual feeling depends on something mental," he said.

"Graphic magazine pages carry photos of tv personalities with large breasts, which gives men the impression that large breasts are attractive.  And girls have also accepted such ideas."

Fukutomi said stricter regulations on the internet or crackdowns are not a fundamental solution.  "Even if law enforcers stiffen regulations on the internet or crack down on teen-age prostitution, it will not fundamentally solve the problems because new tools can be easily developed."  He stressed that education should play a key role in preventing teen-age prostitution, but adults have failed to teach them why it is wrong to turn to prostitution.

"Schools only threaten girls if they prostitute themselves to men by warning, 'it could be dangerous,' 'you might be infected with diseases,' and 'you might get pregnant.'  However, they fail to teach them why teen-age prostitution is wrong," he said.  Instead, Fukutomi pointed to the need to educate children to develop their sense of values.

"It's important to train children to ask themselves 'why.'  By developing their sense of values, children will learn to act decently," Fukutomi said.  "Parents should tell children why prostitution is bad.  Parents and children should discuss equality between men and women and women's role at home and work, for example.  Then, children will learn to understand that Internet dating sites and teen-age prostitution are immoral," he said.

Source: mdn.mainichi.co.jp Mainichi Shimbun 29 August 2002

Enjo Kosai: Teen Prostitution, a Reflection of Society's Ills

by Jamie Smyth

A new ordinance on juvenile welfare recently came into effect in Tokyo.  Adults who pay for sex, or assist minors under the age of 18 in that act, will be liable to fines of ¥500,000 and up to a year in prison.  This piece of legislation is a reaction to the growing trend of enjo kosai, or "compensated dating," which has been sweeping schools and communities throughout Japan in the past few years.  According to a recent survey of junior high school students in their final year, 17% thought there is nothing wrong with enjo kosai and 13% replied that they felt no reluctance in practicing it.

It is unlikely that the new laws will lead to mass arrests or stringent sentencing because of the difficulty of enforcement.  Anonymity provided by "love hotels" and the prevalence of communication devices such as mobile phones and pagers - used to arrange dates - are formidable obstacles for the police to overcome.  Neither is it likely to persuade young girls to stop engaging in "compensated dating."

"Selling sex to adults for money is a personal affair," was the defiant reaction of one 17-year-old girl when informed of the ordinance.  However, it was a crucial move which has important implications for Japanese society.  The debate in the media surrounding enjo kosai has for too long centered around the school girls.  Sensational and voyeuristic reporting has honed in on the uniforms, baggy white socks, expensive tastes, and wild lifestyle of the "Ko-gyaru."  This has led to the glamorising of prostitution and has undoubtedly encouraged the curiosity of many school girls.

The Tokyo Government's decision to focus its advertising campaign on the theme of "Accepting Adult Responsibility - Give Youth a Future" must be applauded.  It reflects the fact that the ordinance is aimed primarily at the men who patronise teenagers and without whom there would be no "compensated dating."  Therefore, the Tokyo Government has wisely shifted the debate from the topical issue of the delinquency of youth to the need to reevaluate Japanese society as a whole.

Aiko Fujita, member of the Tokyo Assembly, who opposed the ordinance, argued, "Adults should teach youth properly how to judge on their own whether or not to buy sex, before making regulations."  However, at present, adults are proving to be the least suitable role models for the upcoming generation.  Indeed, contrary to mainstream opinion, as espoused in most of the contemporary media, there is no "insurmountable gap" between the attitudes of youth and those of society as a whole.  Rather, youth is merely imitating and perhaps exaggerating the principles and morals of contemporary society.

The business world has for years clearly defined Japanese society - hard work, loyalty and fortitude.  Recently scandals have undermined this ideal.  Blood-sucking sokaiya and shady dealing has revealed the guiding principle of the 1990s, that profits take precedent over ethical considerations.  Enjo kosai closely follows the same logic: ethical considerations are set aside for the attainment of wealth.

The "bubble economy" of the '80s encouraged women to appreciate Prada bags or Chanel perfume.  This appreciation has not faltered despite the ailing economy and has been handed down to the next generation.  Companies are increasingly cashing in on purchasing power of the teenager, unleashing slick advertising campaigns aimed at drawing younger and younger women within consumerism.  The pressure on self-conscious adolescents to be fashionable in turn persuades many young women into solicitation.  This materialistic mentality is no new phenomena, but has been fostered by an adult society greedy for profit at any cost.

Yet more alarming are the currents of pædophilia which are becoming more visible within society.  The cult of the schoolgirl stretches much farther than the shores of Japan, yet in few countries is it tolerated and marketed so openly.  Fliers promoting pornographic videos are commonly distributed in residential areas and brothels revolving around the theme of the schoolgirl, can be found in most "soapland" areas.

Meanwhile, mainstream television and the advertising media continue to promote a "kawaii culture" which has resulted in men going weak at the knees at the sight of a pleated skirt.  In such an atmosphere teenagers are inevitably becoming more aware of their sexuality and how to use it for financial benefit.

A moral void clearly exists in Japan today.  "Delinquency" and "decadence" are the current buzzwords in the media when they describe the nation's youth.  This is blatant "buck passing" by an adult society that continues to revel in its own double standards.  It is the politicians, media representatives, parents and teachers who have helped create a materialistic culture which values profit over ethics and has spawned many of the society's current ills from business failures to enjo kosai.

The juvenile welfare ordinance is not likely to eradicate the problem of teenage prostitution, but it has at least directed the spotlight onto the men who are perpetrating this crime and, as a consequence, on society itself.  Adult society must take responsibility and recognize its own failings before it can claim the moral authority to dictate to today's youth.

Source: weekender.co.jp The Tokyo Weekender

The problem of teenaged prostitution, sparked by young girls wanting money for fashionable clothes, is not confined to Japan...

 Nationwide Increase in Teen Prostitution

One of the tens of thousands of teenage prostitutes. This one happens to live in Columbia
Source: colombiajournal.org

New York - Over the last year, local and federal law-enforcement officials say they have noted a marked increase in teen prostitution in cities across the country, reports Assistant Editor Suzanne Smalley in the 18 August issue of Newsweek.  Law-enforcement agencies and advocacy groups that work with teen prostitutes say they are increasingly alarmed by the trend lines: the kids are getting younger; according to the FBI, the average age of a new recruit is just 13; some are as young as 9.  And, while the vast majority of teen prostitutes today are runaways, illegal immigrants and children of poor urban areas, experts say a growing number now come from middle-class homes.

"Compared to three years ago, we've seen a 70% increase in kids are from middle- to upper-middle-class backgrounds, many of whom have not suffered mental, sexual or physical abuse," says Frank Barnaba of the Paul & Lisa Program, which works with the Justice Department and the FBI in tracking exploited kids.  Child advocates are especially concerned that pimps are increasingly targeting girls at the local mall, a place many parents consider a haven for their kids to gather after school and on weekends.  "Ten years ago you didn't see this happening," says Bob Flores, who heads the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  "We've got kids in every major city and in suburbia all over the place being prostituted."

"Potentially good sex is a small price to pay for the freedom to spend money on what I want," says 17-year-old Stacey [not her real name], who liked to hang out after school at the Mall of America, Minnesota's vast shopping megaplex, Newsweek reports.  Stacey gets good grades in high school and plans to try out for the tennis team.  But she was approached last summer by an older man, dressed really well, who told her how pretty she was, and asked if he could buy her some clothes.  Stacey agreed and went home that night with a $250 outfit.  This encounter taught Stacey a lesson.

Cute, blonde and chatty Stacey, who lives with her parents in an upscale neighborhood, began stripping for men in hotel rooms - then went on to more intimate activities.  She placed ads on a local telephone personals service, offering "wealthy, generous" men "an evening of fun" for $400.

On a recent evening, Candace, a 16-year-old hanging out at the Mall of America’s bus terminal for the bus ride home, says she was approached by three different pimps while she shopped that day.  She’s never fallen for any of their tricks, but says they’ve become impossible to avoid.  "They’ll say something to get your attention, like ‘Hey, you dropped something’," she says.  "Then, once you stop, they’ll say, ‘What’s your name, what are you here in the mall for, let me buy you something’."  The Mall of America, whose spokesman declined to comment, has an extensive security operation, and rules requiring juveniles to have chaperones on weekend evenings.  Law-enforcement officials, who praise the mall's efforts to combat the problem, nonetheless concede pimps are active there.  "The Mall of America is a huge recruiting centre," says FBI Special Agent Eileen Jacob.

Stacey's story is enough to make any parent cringe.  Child advocates are just as worried about, and puzzled by, girls like Stacey, who aren't forced into prostitution but instead appear to sell themselves for thrills, or money, or both.  Richard Estes, a University of Pennsylvania researcher, says so-called designer sex is becoming more common in cities across the country.

"Everyone thinks they are runaways with drug problems from the inner city," says Andy Schmidt, a Minneapolis detective who helped bust a major Twin Cities prostitution ring.  "It's not true.  This could be your kid.  For a pimp, a mall is a safe place to sit and watch young girls.  He can buy her stuff, treat her like a boyfriend, get her thinking about all the money she can make."  At malls in many states, authorities say, pimps deliberately pick out girls who appear socially awkward or lonely, and set out to make them feel special.  In response, local, state and federal officials are starting to clamp down on the crime, which is still treated as a minor offense in many cities.  The FBI, working with the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, recently identified 13 cities - including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis and Dallas - that have juvenile-prostitution problems.

Back in Minnesota, police have stepped up stings designed to net teen prostitutes and their pimps.  Earlier this summer, undercover detectives responded to a phone advertisement for an evening’s entertainment.  Arriving at the hotel at the agreed upon time, they found Stacey waiting with two other teenagers.  When her mom came to pick her up at the police station a few hours later, Stacey protested that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding.  She wasn’t charged, and the police haven’t contacted her since her arrest.  Soon, Stacey says, she was back at the mall, shopping - and looking for someone to meet.

Source: prnewswire.com from Newsweek PRNewswire 10 August 2003 photo credit Garry M Leech

Priscilla 1969 by Joseph Szabo

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