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Hashimoto’s resignation may boost Osaka’s ‘body washing’ salons

Shukan Post June 12
Shukan Post June 12

On May 17, voters in Osaka rejected a referendum proposal to merge the city into five semi-autonomous wards, dealing a crippling blow to Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

Afterward, the mayor said that he would fulfill his existing term, which runs out in December, but “retire from politics thereafter.”

In recent years, Hashimoto is believed to have been the force behind a clampdown on the fuzoku (sex-related) trade in Japan’s third biggest city. When he steps down, Shukan Post (June 12) speculates that the industry’s prospects will improve — with one genre in particular possibly cleaning up.

Over the past year, approximately 15 “body washing” massage parlors, whose origin is Okinawa, have sprouted up around the metropolis.

“The interiors of the private rooms make one think of a high-end Bali resort,” says a person employed in the fuzoku trade, “and they’ve really taken off. It has been a steady migration of personnel from Okinawa, where they enjoyed a kind of secretive popularity.”

In Osaka, the cat is out of the bag.

Last month, Osaka Prefectural Police raided such a parlor staffed with Chinese attendants in Kita Ward for supplying sexual services in violation of the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses.

According to the Anna Body Web site, prices for a basic massage begin at 3,000 yen for the first 30 minutes. For a VIP service, which includes a bubble wash, fees start at 10,000 yen for the first hour.

Shukan Post June 12
Shukan Post June 12

Under the watch of Hashimoto, who has seven children, such a bust is hardly out of place. In 2009, Osaka was the first administrative district to ban shops that provide guidance services for soapland bathhouses. Further, revised legislation that restricts street solicitation, which went into effect in June of last year, has emptied the Kita and Minami entertainment areas of touts for sex clubs.

As a result, the push back within the fuzoku industry has been intense.

“Typically, a working gal would have no interest in an election,” says an employee in the trade. “But one told me she filed an absentee ballot as a means of opposition.”

Shukan Post speculates that with the denial of the referendum could thrust the body washing salons into higher prominence in the run-up to Hashimoto leaving office.

“The quality of the sex services offered on the sly by the attendants is very high,” says the aforementioned employee. “Generally, law enforcement has looked the other way. That’s the reason they have maintained their popularity, but now things have really exploded.” (K.N.)

Source: “Osaka fuzoku gyōkai ni baburu hassei,” Shukan Post (June 12, page 59)