Since the middle of May, the streets of Tokyo’s Akihabara area have seen more young females offering to accompany men on walks for a charge or 4,500 yen for 30 minutes or 7,000 yen for a full hour. Customers are solicited by girls loitering in heavily trafficked areas.
A first-year high-school student says she started working the electronic area’s sidewalks in April following a suggestion from a friend. “From the time I was a middle school student, I dated men for quick cash,” says the girl, who hands over half of her income to an agency that employs her.
Dubbed “JK rifure” for short, the bricks-and-mortar salons began springing up in Akihabara and Ikebukuro a few years ago. The establishments typically charged between 2,300 and 3,000 yen for the first 30 minutes. For that, a customer would lie down in a private room next to a school girl and chat with her. The girls were also available to be taken off the premises on private dates for stints extending between 30 and 90 minutes.
Due to fears that the parlors were a breeding ground for prostitution, a crackdown commenced in earnest in January. Officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police searched 17 JK rifure parlors and eventually made four arrests. Of the employees on the premises at the time, 76 of the 115 females were minors. Four employees were 15 years old.
Then in April, the girls in the shops started coming under scrutiny. Instead of being put under the care of the police following a raid, the terminology was changed to where the employees were “taken into protective custody.”
The Sankei says that the reclassification sent shock waves through the industry, with the result being girls hitting the streets. The police, however, are watching. “Without a shop it is difficult to grasp what kind of work is taking place. So it is possible that crimes are occurring,” says a representative of the police who assures that new developments will be carefully monitored.