No-pan shabu-shabu was tip of illicit iceberg for MOF bureaucrats

Shukan Post Oct. 7
Shukan Post Oct. 7

Included in a series of articles inside Shukan Post (Oct. 7) discussing the complete power the Ministry of Finance (MOF) wields over Japan is a sidebar that explains that trips to an infamous restaurant in Tokyo’s Kabukicho red-light district over a decade ago were just the tip of the iceberg as far as the illicit entertainment of bureaucrats.

In the late ’90s, sexually-charged entertainment for MOF bureaucrats came in two forms. Widely known was that which was sponsored by bankers assigned to the ministry, but what few realized was that other members within the Kasumigaseki community also acted as hosts.

“The other ministries were in search budgetary allotments,” says a retired ministry official. “Those ministries would send someone who went to the same university in the same year as MOF officials for hard night out on the town.”

Entertainment costs were paid by corporations that a particular ministry oversees. The erotic arrangements were similar to that of what the banks offered, with reports of ventures to the now-defunct Loulan no-pan shabu-shabu restaurant in Kabukicho, where hostesses served without underpants, eventually becoming symbolic of government excess at the time. (For a list of members from various ministries and public corporations who dined at Loulan check this site.)

But more extreme entertainment happened elsewhere, Shukan Post assures. “High-ranking MOF officials enjoyed the Mukojima district the best,” says a former banker. “Since it is a bit outside of the center of the city, many high-end ryotei establishments were able to deliver sex services. It was something of a ritual for younger MOF officials to wind up making out with geishas in their early 20s and also engage in dancing and drinking. Within 10 minutes of entry, everyone was naked.”

It was common to go one or two other places thereafter and even prepare hotel rooms, with the end result being expenditures of 10 million yen a night.

The article also includes a glossary of MOF slang commonly used, such as zabuton (ざぶとん), or pillow, which is a company you will be transferring to upon retirement, to further illustrate that their lifestyle tended to be rather cushy.

Rest assured, MOF officials also assumed the role of hosts, such as for when they wanted to tame a group of journalists from leading television stations and newspapers.

“While we didn’t go to premier restaurants,” a former writer says, “they bought our dinner at a restaurant inside their dormitories. They also had beer and whiskey on the rocks when we visited their offices after 5 p.m.”

Has anything changed since? Shukan Post is doubtful. (A.T.)

Source: “No-pan-shabushabu wa jono-kuchi datta zenra no elite tachi no inbi na sekai,” Shukan Post (Oct. 7, page 42-43)

Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.

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4 Responses to "No-pan shabu-shabu was tip of illicit iceberg for MOF bureaucrats"

  1. Brendon David   October 8, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Very interesting. It sounds more like a strange Goodfellas-meets-Quinton Terantino sort of movie. What will the blow back be in Tokyo, if anything? Though this info just came out, is there any buzz in the streets of Kokkaigijidomae? I wonder of other Japanese publications will pick this up and bring it further to light?

    • CJ   October 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

      This all took place in the late ’90s. It was mostly a look back. Back in the day it definitely got a lot of press and outraged many.