With the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan City on the island of Okinawa factoring in the recently held gubernatorial election, weekly tabloid Shukan Jitsuwa (Dec. 9) updates its readership on any impact that may be in store for its surrounding red-light district.
During the run-up to the vote, held on Nov. 28, in which Okinawan Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, 71, narrowly defeated 58-year-old former Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha to retain his title, the magazine explains that the ongoing crackdown on shops supplying sleaze in Ginowan’s Maebara entertainment area was an issue that lurked behind the scenes.
For a little background, along with the Tobita Shinchi brothel quarter in Osaka, the Maebara red-light district is known for adult-oriented clubs that specialize in quickies and feature attractive prices.
Since spring, police have been cracking down on establishments in the area, also referred to as “Shinmachi.” Many of the shops had been operating on an underground basis.
“Locals think that Nakaima led this eradication campaign to get reelected,” explains a local fuzoku writer.
However, a local beat writer says that the impetus of the shutdown came before the campaign. “After the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took over,” the source says, “there was a discussion on the utilization of the land post-relocation. The (Shinmachi) area had been discussed so it was once again brought up. But now that the DPJ has reversed it’s course of action — with the destination of the relocation no longer outside of Okinawa — only the discussions on cleaning up Shinmachi have progressed.”
As a result, the area, which had 200 shops at its peak and still retained about 100 prior to the initial eradication campaign, is now totally empty.
“It’s a pity to see them gone,” says the previously quoted fuzoku writer. “5,000 yen for 15 minutes and 10,000 yen for an hour were very competitive rates nationwide.”
But those shops that were run out of town are not going to concede easily, the source continues. “There is no way that these quickie joints will disappear from Okinawa,” says the fuzoku scribe. “They will resurface. While it is hard to secure an entire district of a neighborhood, an area near wherever the Futenma base gets relocated will certainly be the first candidate.”
The Yoshihara entertainment area of Okinawa City is also being shut down, says the weekly, speculating that it too may be gone by the end of this year.
Those who visit Shinmachi can still see a few street walkers but the area is largely a ghost town, sniffs the weekly, and the day when they will also vanish is likely just around the corner. (K.N.)
Source: “Gerira baishun ‘iromachi’ no yuryoku isetsu saki to natta Okinawa Futenma atochi,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Dec. 9, page 208)