A brave Japanese woman has revealed the dark side of her country’s schoolgirl culture after being coerced into teenage prostitution and recruited to go on ‘walking dates’ with adult men.
Simon Ostrovsky, a correspondent based in Brooklyn for Vice News, traveled to Akihabara, a bustling district in Tokyo, as part of a documentary called “Schoolgirls for Sale in Japan” to investigate the sexual exploitation of young women. He soon uncovered that teenage girls were easily accessible for various services, such as fortune telling, massages, and accompanying clients on walks.
There are men who constantly loiter in the vicinity and operate an illegal business involving underage prostitution, commonly referred to as joshi-kosei osanpo (JK) or ‘high school walking’ dates, which are commonly known as these encounters.
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Due to the discord within her family and her mother’s mental illness, she began engaging in JK dates at the age of 16. She confided in Simon about this and requested that her identity be kept confidential. It was only one woman.
She remembered, ‘I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.’ I could forget about my everyday life when I used to hand out flyers in Akihabara.’
‘That is the way [prospective clients] have the opportunity to view the merchandise,’ remarked Simon, clarifying to Daily Mail Online that employing young ladies to distribute pamphlets in public areas is a facade.
The anonymous woman admitted that she found herself taking money in exchange for sex when she was 18 years younger than she is now, and this soon escalated to dates with JK and Simon.
She spoke about her encounter, “And there were concealed choices and peculiar things.” She mentioned, “but situations began to intensify rapidly. I commenced in a carefree manner.”
The 11th grade student walked to high school wearing a carefully chosen ensemble. She wore knee socks and a plaid skirt, which were part of her thoughtfully selected outfit. She never had to dress up for dates because her preferred clients were young, fresh-faced girls at school.
Simon stated, “They are wearing uniforms. They are not wearing costumes. These schoolgirls are real. This is all role-playing, and many people find it strange when they look at Japanese culture.”
Simon said, ‘It is strange to think that this is all part of Japanese culture and many people look at it.’ They are wearing their uniforms. They are not wearing costumes. These schoolgirls are real in reality.
In the last year, the State Department’s annual report flagged various types of dates walking as fronts for a criminal network involved in running sex commercials.
As depicted in the documentary, Jake Adelstein, an American journalist who has dedicated a significant portion of his professional life to covering criminal activities in Japan, clarifies that there is no singular group benefiting from these JK enterprises.
He stated, ‘This presents a business prospect. There exist numerous variations. There are instances where a group of people begins with a single girl and subsequently assembles a type of harem consisting of girls, whom they employ in the streets.’
Simon observed that despite the presence of a multi-story police department just a block away from Akihabara, these businesses in JK are carried out openly.
“Everyone is aware of its presence, but no one is taking any action,” he stated.
Simon and the crew he was collaborating with were informed that they were not permitted to film the teenagers distributing flyers. Meanwhile, the Akihabara streets were crowded with schoolgirls.
Regarding the ironic twist of events, he commented, ‘they were below the legal age for filming, and it was revealed that the person informing us was essentially a male pimp.’
During the documentary visit to a small business owned by Simon, he learned that he could get his fortune told for approximately 3,000 yen and have a chat and sit down with a teenage girl. This occurrence of older men paying teenage girls for dates started in the 1990s and is still thriving.
‘Anything enjoyable’, expressing that she was intentionally unclear, and when Simon inquired about the usual topics discussed by her other customers in these meetings, the young woman chuckles and consults a birthday dictionary to provide Simon with his ‘destiny’, causing him to appear visibly uneasy in the video.
Simon informed Daily Mail Online, ‘That was the utmost uncomfortable experience I have ever encountered in my existence, I reckon.’ ‘Due to the extreme discomfort, I expressed to the camera that I was incapable of continuing after spending seven to ten minutes with her.’
While conversing, the young lady appeared somewhat disconnected, although he acknowledged his lack of knowledge regarding her usual demeanor.
Simon, a male adult, acknowledged that engaging with a teenage girl during his ‘rent-a-date’ was creepy, while their conversation remained innocent. The Vice News team used a hidden camera to capture another man.
Simon also attended a performance in Japan, where he noticed many schoolgirl bands and paid money to meet and visit them after the show. The venue was packed with men of all ages.
Simon explained that in their 40s and 50s, there were also men who knew all the lyrics and enthusiastically waved light sticks throughout the show. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary for the teen boys to want to meet girls their age.
‘This isn’t a famous band by any means,’ he said. ‘It is only known to its own hardcore fans.’Output: ‘This is not a well-known band by any means,’ he stated. ‘It is only recognized by its own dedicated fans.’
The culture of Japanese schoolgirls looking for older men started to develop in the 1990s and has since become more and more common.
Simon explained that he believes Americans don’t want to be culturally imperialist, so instead, they continue to bring their morals and culture to other countries in a way that respects their values. He also discussed how this culture has been allowed to go unchecked by other Western powers for a long time.
He pointed out that Japan, as a member of the United Nations, is a developed Western nation that has committed to opposing human trafficking.
In the documentary, crime correspondent Jake mentioned that women in Japan have a part in the culture of Lolita, which is bad for opportunities and life.
‘Stopping it is a challenging task. This society is recognized as one of the most misogynistic and sexist societies among developed countries worldwide. I wouldn’t choose to be a woman in this place,’ stated the journalist, who also serves on the board of the Polaris Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Japan is facing the issue of a declining economy, which has resulted in a lack of opportunities for teenagers to find meaningful employment. In addition, the country offers very few social welfare services, further exacerbating the problem.
The country has a culture-based shame because young women who have been forced into prostitution would rather reach out for help to their friends and family than hide.
Nito Yumeno is an outreach worker and one of the few advocates for JK girls who patrols the streets at night, searching for girls in need of help. She has already saved more than a hundred girls.
In the documentary, she provided dinner to a teenage girl who couldn’t recall the last occasion she had a home-cooked meal.
During Yumeno’s time as a teenage runaway, numerous individuals attempted to enlist her in the schoolgirl sex trade.
In the documentary, she elaborated, ‘Fortunately, I managed to steer clear of engaging in prostitution or human trafficking. However, a number of my acquaintances suffered greatly and tragically resorted to taking their own lives or became disoriented.’
[Output] Most of these girls have experienced isolation before entering school or home, reaching a point that is reached before the business. Unfortunately, the underlying problem is that the girls are blamed for selling themselves.