TOKYO (TR) – The dark side lurking within the Kabukicho red-light district of Shinjuku Ward — today, something like a mix of a theme park and a strip club — can easily get lost amid its blinking lights and the roar of Godzilla.
However, according to evening tabloid Tokyo Sports (Nov. 6), it is once again regaining prominence.
On the night of October 2, police retrieved a jacket and a pair of black high-heel shoes from the eighth floor of a building in the district. Just before, a woman, aged in her 20s, leaped from the stairway landing where her clothing was found. During the plunge, she struck a male pedestrian on the street.
Officers arriving at the scene found the man with injuries to his head and other areas of his body — including a broken right arm — that are not considered life-threatening. Meanwhile, the woman was later confirmed dead.
“She was under pressure to pay a host club tab,” one of her acquaintances tells the paper in referring to an establishment where men entertain women. “In this industry, October is a quiet period, with customer numbers regularly down. So, hosts target customers who do not have the ability to pay. They may even summon them to the shop to take out loans.”
According to the paper, the incident was followed by a series of other suicides or attempts at such through the end of the month that involved a whopping seven persons. In all of the cases — confirmed by police or fire officials or witnesses — a person leaped from or threatened to leap from a building.
As the incidents unfolded, crowds and relief workers gathered outside the building in question. Footage of the scenes wound up being posted on social-networking services.
“Scene from Hell”
On October 4, a woman survived such a leap. Aged in her teens, she was later taken into protective custody by police, according to a man working in the district. “Sometimes they survive, but other times the blow to the body is too severe,” he tells the paper.
In separate case, another young woman stood screaming from a rooftop. “With a crowd gathering below, it was like a scene from Hell,” said a male witness.
An acquaintance of another woman who killed herself tells the paper, “She was a mental and physical wreck due to supporting a host who didn’t sleep with her.” The acquaintance also knows of a man who leaped to his death on October 27.
“There were so many”
Another man working in the area says that suicides have taken place in Kabukicho before. “But during this past October there were so many,” he says.
The tabloid speculates that news reports of the suicide by the woman on October 2 spurred the subsequent incidents. However, a denizen of the red-light district puts more weight on the surge being related to the local economy, alluding to the aforementioned decline in the mizushobai (adult entertainment) trade that takes place at this time of year.
“Sure, money flows through Kabukicho, but it is not as if all of the nation’s wealthy are here. Rather, shallow types come to make easy money,” he says. “So, the reason [for the suicides] is due to the fact that business is down.”