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Despite ‘Abenomics’ poverty pushing women into sex industry

Ad signs for sex clubs in Tokyo's Kabukicho
Ad signs for sex clubs in Tokyo’s Kabukicho
On January 27, NHK’s “Close-up Gendai” program featured a story about the growing problem of young women in poverty.

Titled “I can’t see tomorrow,” the program caught the eye of evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 31), which found particular interest in the segment of the program covering women toiling in adult-entertainment industry.

Despite “Abenomics” — the collection of economic policies conceived under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — young women have yet to reap benefits.

“Since Abenomics began, the number of women entering the fuzoku trade has increased,” says Taizo Ebina, a journalist covering the industry.

It is not just single mothers, says the tabloid. Married women are also switching into the sex trade for economic reasons.

“In particular, small and medium enterprises are cutting contracts with women working via temp agencies,” says Ebina. “These are the types entering the sex trade.”

Without a support network, the women have no means of securing an apartment. “They stay at Internet cafes, from where they phone fuzoku shops in search of work,” says the writer.

The NHK program features a single mother, 21-year-old “Hana,” who has a 20-month-old daughter. She entered the trade six months ago and works at a particular club in the Tokyo suburbs since it has a contract with a nursery.

At Hana’s club, the only one that permitted NHK to conduct interviews, customers pay 19,000 yen for the first 90 minutes. The shop keeps 40 percent of her sales. She works five days a week and receives 300,000 yen each month, with the majority being set aside for her child’s future.

Nikkan Gendai says that it’s a competitive business. At one shop there may be two or three women who can earn more than 500,000 yen. The great majority, however, cannot break the 200,000-yen threshold.

“At first, I was crying all the time,” one employee tells NHK. “But staff members took me in and offered consultations.”

According to Nikkan Gendai, some housewives without any savings are entering the fuzoku biz without telling their husbands. They tend to take up part-time work at “delivery health” out-call sex shops and erotic massage parlors, in what is referred to as “fuzoku insurance,” to pay off various expenses, such as school tuition.

Another single mother tells NHK that she was told by the city office that her application for welfare may take up to three months. Since she could not wait that long, she decided to work at the shop.

“I think I can work here until I am 25,” Hana tells NHK. “I can’t tell my parents what I am doing. Ideally, I would like to have a job that I can tell them about.”

Over the seven-day period in which NHK did interviews at the shop, 15 girls joined as employees. (A.T.)

Source: “OL ya hitozuma kara no tenshin gumi mo fuzoku-jo ‘namida no gokuhin monogatari,’” Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 31, page 7)