Some of those employees are not averse to a little adult-entertainment in the evenings. In fact, a well-documented sex-industry “bubble” emerged during the reconstruction that followed the quake and tsunami.
Author Ayumi Sakai, a native of Fukushima Prefecture, provides a multi-part piece in Shukan Asahi Geino (Mar. 21) in which she conveys the stories of a collection of “nuclear nightingales,” who are the women providing below-the-belt services to the plant’s workers.
Akine lives in an apartment in Tokyo. The 32-year-old, who is from the Tohoku area, is an experienced sex worker, having toiled in multiple red-light districts around the nation as a member of the fuzoku trade, which is the sex industry.
“Even though it’s been two years since the accident, Fukushima is still the top place for earning money,” says Akine, who plans to return as the guaranteed cash is far too alluring.
She also says that the customers are generally well-behaved, but many use marijuana and stimulant drugs.
“I can’t be sure of course but probably 30 customers of mine were workers at the nuclear plant,” she says. “They do not prefer abnormal sex, but it is clear that they have personal troubles.”
She says that it seems they use drugs more than those in other prefectures, with some guys noticeably sniffing as if having just inhaled.
“After I entered the room of a hotel one time,” she relates, “I smelled something strange. Then after left, I felt high myself. My driver commented to me that I smelled of marijuana.”
Riko Sato, the 45-year-old manager of a deri heru service, which dispatches working girls to waiting customers, says that she was forced to shut down her operation between March 11, the day the earthquake struck, and April.
“There was no water, no electricity, and no girls,” says Sato, who up until seven years ago was a soapland bathhouse employee.
During that time, Sato slept in her office. “The hotels are the key,” she says. “Without them we can’t do business. Our regulars would phone to offer help by giving tips on which hotels had running water.”
Upon the service’s re-opening, there were a lot of customers but few girls to satisfy demand. “We are a delivery service,” she says, “but once a girl was dispatched to a hotel she remained there until closing.”
Before long, the reconstruction boom began, and Sato started getting a tremendous number of calls from nuclear power workers.
“I am still troubled by calls requesting girls to go to the nuclear plant’s dormitories,” she says. “It is not just us. Any unknown person entering the nuclear plant’s premises will be stopped by security. And even if she were able to enter, I couldn’t offer any kind of help if there was a problem. I also do not want any problems from the police.”
Sato, of course, prefers that customers use hotels but they are reluctant to pay the fees. “You know, both the nuclear plant workers and the victims of the disaster are looking for discounts,” she says.
But the boom times have passed, explains another deri heru operator, who indicates that business started to slow last summer.
“It used to be that a girl departing by car for a love hotel at 9 p.m. would encounter a lot of traffic on the road moving in the opposite direction,” says the manager. “But there are no cars now. Further, whereas the parking lots of the hotels were totally full, now you might find only three cars.”
The best times were when the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant employed 3,000 workers. By last summer, however, the number had dwindled down to 2,000 for weekdays and 500 on weekends.
Among the fuzoku girls in Fukushima, some are victims of the disaster. Even though part of her home was destroyed, Misato, 20, does not consider herself to be a member of that group as she is managing to get by in living by herself.
She says that a number of nuclear plant workers will show her photos of subject matter related to radiation on their mobile phones. They will also feed her information that runs counter to that widely available.
“The contents of the photos make no sense to me,” she giggles. “I have no interest in it.”
Radiation is not even a concern. Her biggest fear? Getting someone from her hometown as a customer.
“I have met some, including a teacher,” she says, “But he didn’t recognize me. I’ve also had a former classmate and boyfriend.” (K.N.)
Source: “Watashi ha ‘genpatsu fuzoku-jo,’” Shukan Asahi Geino (Mar. 21)
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