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Premature escalation? Sex-industry source reverses position on ‘Abenomics’

The Economist May 18
The Economist May 18

TOKYO (TR) – With Japan’s Nikkei index continuing its upward momentum this month, the term “Abenomics” has been commonly included in articles by just about any major financial newspaper or magazine one might care to name. This week is no exception — and it might signal that the days of cheap sex in Tokyo are over.

Abenomics, which refers to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to raise government spending in an effort to boost prices, is mentioned on the cover of the The Economist (May 18) under the headline “It’s Japan! Abenomics, nationalism and the challenge to China.”

An article titled “Once more with feeling” opens by citing Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to men’s entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), to make a connection between stock valuations and the prices being charged by soapland brothels in the capital.

The Economist says that demand has been “soaring,” with one brothel fetching 60,000 yen for “massage” services. “He says it is all thanks to the surging stockmarket,” the article reports in referring to Ikoma, who is cited routinely in Japan’s tabloid press for insights into trends in the sex industry.

Since Abe began his second term late last year, faithful readers of The Tokyo Reporter know that Ikoma’s views on Abenomics with regards to the firming of prices in Japan’s ejaculation industry have been quite conservative.

Most recently, the editor told weekly tabloid Spa! that cheap sex is still readily available. Prior to that, Tokyo Sports includes commentary from Ikoma in an article that says the impacts of Abenomics are not reaching the sex trade. In a pair of articles published around New Year’s (again in Tokyo Sports and Spa!), the editor was skeptical that prices at bathhouses were due for an upswing in the year ahead.

That was then; this is now. On May 17, Abe told business leaders that it is his job to “awaken Japan” from a period of prolonged deflation and lost confidence. Since he took over as prime minister on Decemeber 26, the Nikkei has jumped by roughly 50 percent.

But could this be another “bubble” waiting to pop? Perhaps ominously, The Economist says that the rise in soapland prices is the first since 1990, when Japan’s asset bubble of the 1980s was fully inflated.

Indeed, The Tokyo Reporter will be monitoring Abe and Ikoma carefully for future developments.