Current Situation and Problems of Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs) in Japan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: Booth 59
Oral Presentation
Chisaki OZAWA , University of Health and Welfare, Japan
Shugo OBATA , University of Health and Welfare, Japan
Kaorin MIZUSHIMA , Aijyou-Koubou, Japan
According to Japan’s National Police Agency, 30,133 businesses were reported to act in sex industry in Japan in 2012. The number of CSWs are estimated to amount to at least a few hundreds of thousands. Japanese Anti-prostitution law established in 1956 prohibits paid sexual intercourse. As a result, many kinds of sex work which avoid this law have been created. Most of them offer a variety of sexual services except for sexual intercourse, such as “Fashion health” and “Image club”. But there also exists sex work which includes “unpaid” sexual intercourse, such as “Soap land”. In soap lands, CSWs have sexual intercourse with their customers of their own free wills, not as a part of service, though it is an unspoken agreement that sexual intercourse is included. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 17 CSWs who work for a soap land in Tokyo mainly in order to study their psychological tendencies and problems. We found that all of them had experienced other kinds of sex work not including sexual intercourse before they began working for the soap land and that they liked a soap land job best. Despite a lot of social and psychological disadvantages due to sex work, they gave more importance to advantages. It can be said that Soap land is in a gray zone legally, but this problem has been left vague for a long time in Japan. In 1990s, there was a heated discussion about “Should prostitution be made legal?” in Japan. But little attention was paid to the feelings and opinions of CSWs. Presently Soap land seems to coexist with society in harmony with Japanese original culture and law system. It is an important challenge for the future sex work in Japan how to keep this harmony unchanged.