GUNMA (TR) – Gunma Prefectural Police have arrested three persons in the unlawful employment of Cambodian women who claim they were forced to work as prostitutes, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Jan. 20).
Between November 10 and December 2, Hisao Watanabe, 44, Tomoyuki Goto, 32, and a Thai woman, 44, allegedly employed seven Cambodian women, aged between 20 and 36, as hostesses without proper visas at a parlor and bar in Numata and Shibukawa cities.
The suspects are accused of violating immigration laws. Watanabe and Goto admit to the allegations while the Thai woman denies the charges. The suspects are also under investigation for coercing the women to work as prostitutes.
The Embassy Cambodia in Japan rescued the women in early December after one of them posted a plea for help on its Facebook page.
One woman told police that she came to Japan after being lured under the guise that she would be working as a waitress earning 3,000 U.S. dollars per month. However, all of the women claim that they were working as prostitutes.
On Thursday, police raided residences and businesses affiliated with the suspects and found 10 Thai women, aged between 21 and 34. Eight of the women were arrested for existing in Japan with expired visas.
Since the Cambodian women are believed to be victims of human trafficking, they were not arrested.
Watanabe manages an unspecified commercial sex parlor located in the Ikaho Hot Springs area of Shibukawa. Goto is employed at the parlor. The manager of a nearby shop says, “They seem to have been accommodating foreign tour groups.”
The 44-year-old Thai suspect manages bar Gold in downtown Numata. “I’ve seen foreign women coming and going,” the male manager of a nearby shop says. “They were Thai. I guess it opened about two years ago.”