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Sendai construction boom uncovers corruption and AV star Minako Komukai

Minako Komukai at Sendai's Rokku-za
Minako Komukai appeared at Sendai’s Rokku-za

High-end hostess clubs jammed nightly, call-girl girls not meeting demand, and a top adult video star booked at a popular strip club — that’s the Sendai nightlife scene amid the current reconstruction “bubble,” reports evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (May 6).

A little more than one year after the devastation of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, Miyagi Prefecture’s biggest nightlife quarter of Kokubuncho is booming as construction firms target, oftentimes through collusion, the government’s second supplementary budget for the reconstruction of stricken areas.

“Construction company employees are arriving from all reaches of Japan,” says a person in management at one such firm. “Clubs are routinely filled to capacity.”

According to an employee at a kyabakura (hostess club), there are not enough girls employed in the deri heru (out-call sex) trade to satisfy demand. He says that reinforcements are being ferried in from outside the prefecture.

Even AV star Minako Komukai is appearing in a 20-day engagement at the Sendai Rokku-za strip club until May 10, and this is not her first appearance since the quake.

The tabloid finds it hard to believe that Tokyo remains mired in deflation while just a few hundred kilometers to the north Sendai’s economy is expected surge forward for the foreseeable future.

Restoration of roads and bridges is getting up to speed, with dump trucks causing traffic jams along the coast. When this basic infrastructure work is finished, major redevelopments will then commence. These projects are expected to last for 10 years. A hotel staff member tells the tabloid that its rooms are booked solid for three years.

Flush with cash, construction company employees are able to freely go out drinking and hit the golf course. Sales at department stores and home appliance shops are reportedly double that of last year.

Real estate brokers are looking to turn a quick buck by investing in damaged properties. “The other day, a rather gruff real estate guy with a Kansai accent was here,” says a restaurant employee. “It was the middle of the afternoon, but he had geisha girls on both sides serving him wine.”

Of course, with so much tax money floating around, it would not be surprising to hear rumors concerning dodgy activity. One going around concerns collusion among big-time contractors and the prefectural government.

“For large jobs, the rubble disposal work went to big-name contractors and the levee work was given to marine contractors,” says a representative from a local construction company. “Small companies from this area were left out entirely. So there are grumblings about how the prefecture is handling the situation.”

Prior to the bidding for debris-clearing jobs, it was not a secret that big-name contractors Shimizu, Kajima, and Obayashi had already secured contracts from the prefecture.

Further, garbage incineration jobs were also dealt with by the prefecture, and not by local civic authorities, which is standard practice. “A ‘proposal method’ was used,” says an industry insider. “This insured that the big companies got everything, almost like gifts descending from heaven.” (K.N.)

Source: “‘Fukko baburu’ ni waku Tohoku saidai hankagai Kokubuncho wo iku,” Nikkan Gendai (May 6, page 7)