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Illegal Azabu playpen for filthy rich gets busted

United Lounge Tokyo
United Lounge Tokyo

At around 22:50 on the evening of Feb. 4, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 27) investigators from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police raided United Lounge Tokyo, a high-class cabaret club allegedly operating illegally in Tokyo’s ritzy Azabu district.

Once their eyes adjusted to the surroundings, the cops blinked and ogled in astonishment.

“It was like we were standing in a deluxe hotel,” one is quoted as saying.

Occupying all 80 tsubo (about 265 square meters) — an entire floor in a four-story building in one of Tokyo’s swankest residential areas — United featured private rooms equipped with karakoke, expensive sofas, and an enormous wine cellar stocked with Chatau Margaux, Romanee-Conti and other premium labels priced as high as 1.5 million yen per bottle.

Another attraction was its grand piano, described as a type so rare only a few exist in the world.

“United had about 6,600 members who each paid 10,000 yen to join,” says the police source. “The members included politicians, entertainers, professional athletes, business executives and the like. One famous singer would come here and drop about 1 million yen in the course of one evening.”

Another of United’s attractions was 101 women who were registered to work there as hostesses, all described as “good-looking and fashionable women in their early 20s.” Some of them reportedly held daytime jobs as “race queens” or models, but about one third were students at prestigious private or public universities in the Tokyo area.

“They could earn 100,000 to 150,000 a month working there part time, but actually the had an ulterior motive for working there,” the investigator explained.

It seems that with the “ice age” situation in corporate hiring this year’s university graduates are currently facing, the young women were hoping that by toiling evenings at United they might get lucky and link up with some free-spending businessmen and other patrons, and hopefully landing a job in the process.

But United had not obtained an entertainment business license, and instead of giving its hostesses a contract, had treated them on the books as “customers.”

“Chance to find work”

Under police questioning, reports Sankei, the young women had given such explanations as “There were some customers in showbiz, so I thought I might get a chance to find work,” and “My ulterior motive for working there was to charm my way into a job.”

Somewhat strangely, the article did not mention any names of persons arrested in the sweep.

Source: “Hosutesu nerai wa shukatsu,” Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 27, page 26)