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Osaka cops bust sex industry recruiter that preyed on vulnerable women

The Kizuna group once boasted 200 street scouts
The Kizuna group once boasted 200 street scouts (Facebook)

OSAKA (TR) – In October, Osaka Prefectural Police busted scouting group Kizuna for allegedly deceiving women into working in the commercial sex industry in Kansai, western Japan.

Over the course of the investigation, police arrested 10 persons, including Kazuya Ueda, the 37-year-old representative director of group, for violations of the Employment Security Act.

According to the Sankei Shimbun (Dec. 2), the group not only solicited women but also operated a real estate company, adult video (AV) company, beauty salon and sex shop — all part of an integrated network described by one expert as “a clever system in the sexual exploitation of women.”

Make a mistake and they’d shave our heads

“You wanna work? Let’s go on a date if you don’t.”

That’s the line that a 28-year-old man in a white coat used on female passersby in Minami, a bustling area in Osaka, on a recent evening. He is a freelance recruiter who exchanges contact information with an average of 30 women in one night and introduces them to night clubs and sex shops.

He had previously belonged to Kizuna. “I hated it there. The higher-ups often took the money we earned, and they’d punch us or shave our heads if we made a mistake on the job,” he said.

A system that made the company rich

Having employed some 200 recruiters, Kizuna boasted of its scale as the “biggest group of recruiters in Asia.” Sources said it had grown in size by making posts on social media about the flamboyant lives that its officers enjoyed and by hiring college students who came to their door.

A police investigator told the Sankei that the system had been set up in such a way that shops and businesses paid fees for solicitations to Kizuna, which brought in more and more money as its scale expanded.

Kizuna paid scouts commissions of around 1,750 yen per day for a woman introduced to a hostess club and a percentage of the earnings of an actress in an AV production. But there were cases when the company withheld the commissions, the practice the scout in Minami alluded to.

Police said that in addition to Kizuna, the group included a sex shop, a company associated with AV productions and a real estate company. All told, the group included around 1,000 staff members.

The group’s plan was incestuous. Women were recruited off the street, introduced to properties handled by the real estate company and sent to work at the affiliated sex shop, for which they would get their hair done at an affiliated beauty salon.

Psychological trap for women

One source close to the sex industry explained that because of the concentration of manpower in Tokyo, there has been a shortage of women who work in the sex industry in Osaka, which has spurred fierce competition for workers.

A man who has offered advice to women employed by the sex shop affiliated with Kizuna said a method has also been used for recruiters to become sexually involved with their recruits, leading them to believe in the romance and fall under their psychological control.

He confirmed the circuitous nature of the business, saying women were encouraged to work a host club under the group umbrella and accumulate debt, which they could pay back by appearing in AV production or by working more days at the sex shop.

Hiroko Goto, a professor in criminal matters at the graduate school of Chiba University, says that such a system within the sex industry often takes advantage of women who lack security as far as their domestic existences.

“It is a clever system in which money trickles downward through the various groups whose roles are shared, all of which forms a microcosm of sexual exploitation of women,” she said.