“Yes, it’s true that police have been cracking down more heavily, and shop-type sex businesses have been disappearing,” says the manager of a “delivery health” (out-call sex service) in Toyota City. “There are more deri heru now, and many places let customers ‘play’ for less than 10,000 yen a visit.”
“When Toyota was doing well, its factories operated in three shifts,” the manager continues. “We got lots of customers in the daytime too. We operated round the clock. But now the only time we get busy is on weekends.”
Toyota Motor Co. Ltd. has not been “doing well” at all. In its domestic market, the company sold 2,792,274 units in 2009 — down by a whopping 30.4 percent from the year before. The small sales boost enabled by the government’s eco car tax incentives may have helped move more hybrids, but not nearly enough to make up for the shortfall.
To make matters worse, a dangerous defect in the accelerator pedals on passenger car models may force Toyota to recall over 10 million units worldwide.
With slumping sales brought on by the worldwide recession, the company last year reported a deficit for the first time in 71 years. Losses for the fiscal year ending in March 2010 are expected to widen.
It’s not only Toyota’s parts suppliers and affiliates that are hurting; the repercussions of the downturn are also blunting demand for the area’s once-thriving sex industry.
“The number of pages in guidebooks to local sex shops are down by about half,” says the editor of one such publication. “I suppose a lot of temp-help workers have been laid off, and don’t have the money to play — let alone pay their own rents. And customers on expense accounts have simply disappeared. I’ve never seen Nagoya’s Sakae nightlife district so deserted.”
Some proprietors of “pink” businesses, unable to pay shop rents or salaries to their female staff, have simply vanished. This has prompted their nervous staff to initiate their own private arrangements with customers — a practice referred to as urabiki (dealing on the side).
“If I like the customer, I’ll ask him to set me up like a mistress,” says one deri heru employee. “With business so bad at the shop these days, I’ve got no other means of paying my rent.”
Pink industry maven Kei Onishi tells Shukan Taishu that business at local massage parlors is so bad it’s become common for the masseuses to moonlight at deri heru.
“Many married women have gone to work at hitozuma (wives) deri heru to support their families after their husbands were laid off,” Onishi adds.
Some sex workers have left the area entirely in search of greener pastures. But the depressed situation in Nagoya may be the forerunner of a similar pattern spreading to Tokyo and other parts of the country. And that, warns Shukan Taishu gravely, could very well mark the beginning of the end, as far as the nation’s nocturnal amusement industry is concerned.
Source: “Toyota fukyo de fuzokujo ga tairyo shitsugyo, Nagoya fuzoku ‘haimetsu kiki,'” Shukan Taishu (Feb. 15, pages 192-194)