Prostitution in Japan: A Young Body Worth a Profit
At a street corner, a young girl around the age of seventeen, dressed in a navy blue school uniform and white socks, stands looking vacantly into the street. After a few minutes a middle-aged man approaches the girl and offers to take her out to an expensive dinner; in addition, he offers her a satisfying amount of pocket money. With a shy, quivering glance and a sweet smile the girl graciously takes the man’s arm. On the corner of areas like Shibuya, a central Tokyo entertainment district, popular with Tokyo’s younger generation the scenario described has become a common and casual rendezvous (Moffett, "Little Women" 48). Japan, a country with the second strongest economy and highest academic standing in the world, is facing a major problem with a wide-spreading and popular after-school activity of its young female students. An increasing number of Japanese schoolgirls are soliciting their bodies for entertainment and extra "pocket" money in a society that is setting extremely high prices for them.
Enjo kosai, which translates as "subsidized socializing" or "patronage" or simply "prostitution," is no longer a rare secret on the streets of Japan (Schreiber 84-85). There exist numerous outlets that are propagating the idea and helping teenage girls to find interested clients. Phone booths near train stations are plastered with phone numbers and photos of young schoolgirls, many from middle-class homes (Butler 44). Girls can also market themselves with commercial voicemail. Dial into a commercial voicemail and you can hear a message similar to the following: "I am a 16-year-old high school girl. I am looking for someone to meet me tomorrow for an enjo kosai arrangement.
I am 165 centimeters tall and weigh 49 kilograms…I think I’m pretty cute. My price is 50,000 yen for about two hours" (Schreiber 83). Other wise a man can stroll along the street of Shibuya, Ueno or other district areas that are favorite hangouts for teenagers and pick up a young girl. Then he may take her to a karaoke clubroom or somewhere private and start negotiating the price for the evening. Japanese men can also find pleasure at "image clubs," where they pay about $150 an hour to live out their wildest fantasies about schoolgirls (Kristof A6). In what are called telephone clubs, a man could pay a fee and then wait in a room for a call from a woman during which the two parties will make an arrangement to meet at another time for an enjo kosai. These clubs solicit women by advertising in magazines and newspapers, on subway trains, and by direct mail. Kleenex tissues with the club’s telephone number and address are even distributed at train stations (Morrison 3). These outlets, major promoters of "sex for money," have had a significant impact on the numbers of teenage girls engaging in prostitution, aiding the teen prostitute with finding customers and aggressively luring new young girls into prostitution. Allowing...