OSAKA (TR) – For the first time in three decades, Osaka City’s Tobita Shinchi, the largest red-light district in the Kansai area, will be closed during the upcoming Group of 20 summit, the district’s cooperative union announced last week.
On June 28 and 29, the 159 shops in the Tobita Shinchi cooperative union will voluntarily keep their curtains shut to coincide the holding of the G20 summit.
“We decided to shut down to prevent confusion for local residents and consumers,” a representative of the union was quoted by the Sankei Shimbun (May 18).
Located in Nishinari Ward, Tobita Shinchi consists of alleys of brightly lit two-floor ryotei structures. In the first-floor doorway of each establishment sits a woman attired in revealing clothing. Next to her is an elderly female proprietor who verbally solicits clients.
In addition to shutting down completely during the summit, the shops will pull their curtains closed but remain in operation between June 21 and 27 and again on June 30.
In addition to the aforementioned confusion, the union determined that employees of the shops would have difficulty commuting to work due to traffic restrictions in place during the summit.
“In creating a beautiful Tobita, we want people to think it was great to hold the G20 in Japan,” the representative added.
According to the cooperative union, the last time the district shut down was for the funeral of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, on February 24, 1989.
For the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in 1995, the establishments remained open but the female proprietors were not present in the doorways, a move that was done, observers at the time said, so as to not not give “the wrong impression” to foreign visitors.