NPOs: More women claiming they were forced into porn industry

YouTube personality Aroma Kurumin says of her past in the AV industry: “I was being brainwashed”
YouTube personality Aroma Kurumin says of her past in the AV industry: “I was being brainwashed” (YouTube)

TOKYO (TR) – Despite stagnation in recent years, Japan’s porn industry continues to each year churn out tens of thousands of productions, the stars of which are treated as celebrities at multiple award shows.

But human rights groups would prefer to highlight the underside of the trade –– one where victims are forced into adult video (AV) productions, many of them brainwashed university students who blame themselves for signing their contracts under coercion.

There were 148 people who sought help from non-profit organizations Lighthouse and People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence (PAPS) from January to November this year alone, up from 83 in 2015 and 29 in 2014, the Mainichi Shimbun reports (Dec. 17).

Inquiries from victims included those who wanted to drop out of a production they signed up for and some who had been deceived into making an appearance, while others spoke of wanting the AV film they appeared in erased.

Aroma Kurumin’s story

Aroma Kurumin, 26, now a YouTube personality, was scouted in Shinjuku during the winter of 2010 when she was in her fourth year at Meiji Gakuin University. The scout was, she recalls, “looking for a girl who can do gravure [pin-up model] work.”

Kurumin was introduced to an alleged “president” of an entertainment production company when she spoke of her dreams to make it big in music, and signed a contract-esque paper that didn’t mention adult video performances. She wasn’t given a copy to keep.

Full of ambition, Kurumin found herself at an interview with a big publishing house where she was hired after the president introduced her as a model “also able to do nudity” with no prior discussion.

Kurumin felt assured by the established size of the publishing company, and was sold on nude shoots by the president’s words: “This is the fast-track to the music world.”

All on the line

Kurumin put everything on the line for her big dreams, turning down job offers after graduating university. She lived each day full of anxiety as work barely trickled in –– until six months later when her office floated the idea of an AV performance.

There was initial reluctance, but Kurumin was summoned repeatedly to the office where the so-called president and scouts persuaded her with lines like “doing titles with sex in it will sell more” and “AV performers rank higher than gravure [idols].”

The company was relentless, dragging her in for talks at least 10 times across a few months. Sometimes, Kurumin would be surrounded by seven or eight men.

After meeting them, she would find herself unable to reach them for some two weeks –– only for them to call her in again.

“Looking back now, I was being brainwashed,” Kurumin said, “but they made me believe I had no choice but to do it.”

‘It’s all my fault’

Kurumin was forced to jot down the acts she wouldn’t participate in, but was forced to do those very same acts during shooting. When she started crying, staff would attack her with words like “[we have] family too. What’re you going to do about this, huh?” and “You’re the only one that takes so much time.”

Shooting stretched from morning until late at night. Her body and mind crumbled, so much so that she was overwhelmed and convinced herself, “This is all there is for me.”

Driven into a corner, Kurumin made her second AV appearance. She kept telling herself, “It’s all my fault,” and couldn’t talk to her parents about her struggles.

All the sacrifice turned out to be for nothing when a scout told her the “president ran away with [the proceeds].” She hardly received any of that money.

With help from a support group, Kurumin was able to stop sales of two productions –– but the clips that spread online will remain.

‘The one who got tricked is in the wrong’

Kayo Matsumoto, 27, a freelance television anchor, was approached when she was studying at Nagoya University.

Matsumoto was in town when she was tricked into getting into a car on the pretense that she would be “shooting for a program kind of like a variety show,” only later to be filmed licking a penis-shaped candy.

She pleaded for the footage to not be used, but learned years later the clip was being used in AV films. The resulting fallout forced her to step down from three programs on local television networks.

Matsumoto faced hostile comments like “don’t act like you’re a victim” and “the one who got tricked is in the wrong.”

YouTube personality Aroma Kurumin says she was forced to perform in adult video productions
YouTube personality Aroma Kurumin says she was forced to perform in adult video productions (YouTube)

“I respect people who appear [in AV productions] through their own volition, but methods that deceive people and hurt them is screwed up,” Matsumoto said. “It’s an issue when criminals of money-transfer fraud are said to be bad, but for problems of a sexual nature, people say ‘the one who got tricked is in the wrong.’”

Social worker: Don’t try to handle it on your own

Many of the cases handled by support organizations involve victims who were scouted as models on city streets and gradually being persuaded without the mentioning of AV, and groups of men surrounding them as they were forced to sign contracts.

There are even cases of companies approaching minors and forcing them to sign after they turn 20, since contracts for minors that are not agreed to by a legal representative can be canceled.

Setsuko Miyamoto, a social worker at PAPS, said that “young people without much experience in society are targeted.”

“There’s also the problem of what to do in terms of providing psychological help, since there’s people that fall into depression and those that see their marriage fall apart,” Miyamoto said, adding two people who came to PAPS for help have committed suicide.

“Don’t try to handle it on your own,” Miyamoto said.

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