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The dimming of Osaka’s red lights

Shukan Jitsuwa Jan. 31
Shukan Jitsuwa Jan. 31

Some atypical developments are taking place in Osaka’s nightlife districts. Shukan Jitsuwa (Jan. 31) reports that an investigation that began in the Matsushima Shinchi district earlier this month led to a number of employees in the adult-entertainment trade being arrested in the Imazato Shinchi district on prostitution charges a few days later.

Kusuo Imatani, 64, an owner of an eatery in Imazato Shinchi, and six others were taken into custody on January 16 by Osaka Prefectural Police’s Higashi Sumiyoshi Station for pimping a female company employee at a rate of 13,000 yen for 30 minutes.

Historically, the Matsushima Shinchi, Tobita Shinchi, and Imazato Shinchi areas have been known as the “Big Three” red-light districts in Osaka for quickies.

In the past, there has been a tacit understanding between law enforcement and operators that a blind eye will be turned to the administration of coital sexual services. Certainly, crackdowns have taken place, but they have never unfolded in a concentrated manner, as has been seen recently.

Shukan Jitsuwa says that a shock wave is rolling through the districts.

“It appears that the police are not carrying out these raids to meet quotas,” says a writer covering the fuzoku trade, which is the commercial sex industry. “The districts have received special treatment as they had few ties to organized crime. The fact that this stance reversed implies some sort of change has taken place. Police are really being aggressive.”

This crackdown began in earnest in Matsushima Shinchi on January 12, and followed a very similar pattern to the bust in Imazato.

A woman who borrowed money from a loan shark business operated by a sex-club recruiter was introduced to an eatery in Matsushima Shinchi. She then reported to police that she was forced into prostitution. This lead to arrests of those six Arrests.

One may think that a woman being sold to work in a red-light district to pay back a loan is a story of days past, but indeed it still happens.

“With the tough economy, there are establishments in the Shinchis that are changing ownership,” says an individual familiar with the area. “Some are now in the hands of organized crime and loan sharks. The case in Matsushima proves that. The police are also investigating the background of the Imazato case. They are expected will to be rigorous in enforcement down the line.”

Rumors are now starting that the next target will be Hida Shinchi. Shukan Jitsuwa assures its readership that it will report on any upcoming developments.

Source: “Tsugi wa Tobita ka. Matsushima Shinchi no tekihatsu de hajimatta Osaka- hinchi renzoku tekihatsu yoha,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Jan. 31, pages 52-53)