How Do Japanese Men Exploit Girls’ Youth and Beauty In The “JK Walking” Business In Japan?

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Trigger Warning: The following talks about SA. Also, this is in no way a representation of all Japanese men and the Japanese culture.

Introduction

The business first started off in the 1990s, when the “buru sera” trend of teenage girls handing out their unwashed underwear, school uniforms, and swimwear came about. This turned into “enjo kosai” (compensated dating), where older men would date teenage girls and pay for their finances in exchange for a sexual relationship. In recent times, this is now known as the “JK business”

“JK walking” stands for “joshi kosei” in Japanese which means “high school girl walking date” or also called “JK osanpo” meaning tour guide walks. This is where business men will go after work, and pay to walk around with a school girl (age 15-17) in a park for a few hours. The “walking” date consists of holding hands and talking, however in most cases the men will force the girls to do some other sexual things. These include taking the girls to “love hotels”, taking pictures of the girls’ underwear, and nonconsensual sex. The men pay 5,000 to 7,000 yen (equivalent to $46-65 US dollars) for a 30-minutes to an hour long date. These girls are minors and have to wear their school uniforms during the date. Most of these school girls are runaways, being abused at home, or come from very poor families and do this as a way to earn some money for themselves. There are many other forms of the “JK business” other than just walking dates so that they appear legal enough to operate. For example, there are “JK rifure” (reflexology), where the men are given massages by the girls, and “JK komyu” (communications) where the pair will go to a cafe and talk for hours or read the men’s fortune. 

Other forms of child sexual institutions that still exist in Japan are red-light districts and Soaplands. Red-light districts are streets in Tokyo where these child prostitution facilities are legally able to take place. Akihabara is the largest and most famous redlight district where most “JK business” take place. Another weird pedophilic business are Soaplands that exist in the red-light districts. Soaplands are places where men can pay teenage girls to bathe and massage them while the men are fully naked. Other sites that can be found in the busiest streets of Tokyo and that are not hidden away in red-light districts are Kawaii Cafes and Maid Cafes. The Kawaii Cafes or Maid Cafes are where high school girls (16 and up) will have to dress up in maid outfits, talk to the men, serve them their food, and in some cases feed the men. They are designed to appeal to tourists and foreigners because the cafe’s interior resembles a French cafe’s aesthetic. However, it is mostly the old Japanese men that go to these cafes instead of tourists and are being served by minors in provocative maid costumes. The Japanese Mafia owns many of these streets and runs the businesses so the police are not allowed to investigate into it. The Yakuza (one of the most notorious and largest Mafias worldwide) is more powerful than the police since they own so much land here in Tokyo.

 

Redlight district with chatrooms to meet the girls

Japanese schoolgirl uniforms

If you try typing up Japanese schoolgirl uniform into Google, only provocative costumes of the uniforms come up. This was the only appropriate image that I could find.


Anime/Manga Porn

Anime porn of schoolgirls can be found in almost any combini or FamilyMart (these are popular convenience stores in Japan). There is a section in each combini (not hidden away) where there are shelves stacked with anime pornography or pictures of naked young women to purchase. A very popular type of Manga/Anime is “Lolicon” which portrays young girls with childlike features having sexual relationships with older men. “Shotacon” is the same genre but just depicts young boys. Laws against pornography in Anime are very limited in Japan and many government officials are not sure whether the drawings of the young girls pass the line of being pedophilic or it just depicts a fetish. Pornography in Japanese video games became much more controversial after the 2006 “RapeLay” game in which players would have to try to rape a single mother and her two high school daughters for entertainment. Even after this controversy, Japan has made no laws limiting the amount of pornographic and sexist depictions of teen girls in Anime. There are also a lot of costume stores that sell Japanese school girl uniforms to dress up in around parts of Harajuku and Shibuya. This is a type of the “Harajuku girl” aesthetic (clarification: the typical Harajuku girl aesthetic is to dress in pink and to look cutesy, yet there is a group of particular people that take it to the extreme and dress as provocative school girls) that is very popular in Japan, where grown women dress in school uniforms, and paint their cheeks very rosy, or do very cutesy makeup to look like a teenage girl. 


Image of popular Anime/Manga store

Japanese Men’s Fascination With Schoolgirls

The reason as to why Japanese men are attracted to younger girls and the “schoolgirl aesthetic” is because of the power dynamic that it creates when an older man is in a relationship with an naive impressionable girl. As well, Japan is still a little backwards with conforming to the rest of the world’s standards on gender equality. Here in Japan, traditional old-fashion Japanese men still believe that they are above women and therefore can do whatever they want with them. 

Mental disorders/experiences that comes after sexual assault: 

  • Manic depression 
  • PTSD 
  • Vivid Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Guilt/shameful
  • Severe anxiety 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Suicidal 
Here is an excerpt for the 18-minute documentary inside the “JK business”

To watch the full documentary: https://youtu.be/0NcIGBKXMOE


Japanese Police Sexual Assault Protocol

Sexual misconduct or sexual harassment is very common on the trains in Japan. So much that there is a female only cart for women to take the train to work in the morning to avoid being harassed. A recurring issue in Japan as well is photographs being taken of ladies’ skirts when they are sitting on the train. This occurrence was happening so often that Apple had to make their Iphones make a loud clicking sound go off every time you take a photo so that it can notify the other person that you might be taking a photo of them. 

Under Japan’s Penal Code, charges of nonconsensual sex can be filed up to 10 years after the event took place. In many cases, perpetrators get no legal punishments due to difficulties imposed by time limits for filing suits and preservation of evidence. According to victims, the police don’t always go ahead with an investigation of a rape case. They will only investigate it  if they had gotten a complaint from the victim’s parents or had found the victim while she was being raped. After the rape, many girls would be treated differently by those in their community due to the sexism, stigma, and the mentality of “she was asking for it”. 

Compared to US Sexual Assault Laws: 20 years maximum with additional fines for medical care, therapy, and attorney fees.

My “For Now” Response

I would like my beautiful question to have an impact on the Japanese community. I want them to be aware of the pedophilic and sexually-abusive acts that occur in Japan, specifically the “JK walking business”. Almost anyone that I have talked to had no idea what “JK walking” is. It is still a very prevalent thing but the government has no protection rights for the girls involved. I wanted to conduct this research because there is so much dark inside business that goes on and I want the police and molesters to take accountability and bring justice to the girls. 

I want to create a humanitarian group at my school and continue to make it bigger by gaining support from other schools or from other Japanese people who know that this is wrong. That way we can support the girls who are in the business to get out of it and give them the mental help that they need. Most of these girls are runaways or have mental illnesses such as manic depression and PTSD and I believe that if they get the education and mental help that they need, then they will no longer want to be part of this sick child prostitution. Also, if my support group does get big, then I would like to work with officials to get Soaplands, Kawaii cafes, and Redlight districts shut down. 

You can also download my infographic: 


Audience Interactive Discussion Padlet

https://padlet.com/22saroukosc1/catalystconference


Work Cited and Consulted

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pMyPi7VLEiMo2NPYTjLf8UDeieBsHktpU74yu5XgNTM/edit?usp=sharing

 

6 Comments
Christina_195

Christina_195

Hi, I am Christina Saroukos and I go to the American School in Japan. I am a junior and for my Catalyst Conference, my topic will be about the "JK walking" business in Japan.

6 comments

  1. I had no idea these places still existed in Tokyo! You approached this heavy and disturbing topic with such grace and tons of prevalent information that I think it really called attention on the topic!

  2. This is such an important topic to talk about and you did suck a good job presenting the information! I learned so much from your research and I am so glad you are sharing it for others to read and learn about.

  3. Thank you for doing this. Most Japanese people are aware of the subjects you’ve picked up, and yet the population hasn’t ever done anything about it. In fact, they normalize it and perpetuate it which I find so INFURIATING. THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing about this. Everyone needs to know about this and see the problem in this.

  4. Amazing work Christina! It’s great to see you bring awareness to such an important topic with really concise and informative information. Can’t wait to see the changes you’ll make within your humanitarian group – you’ve got this 👊💪.

  5. Wow. This is such an important topic that I had never even heard about. There are so many different pieces to this issue which I think is what makes it hard to do something about because there’s the cultural dynamic, the mental health issues, the poverty that some young women experience, etc. Overall, you did an amazing job highlighting something so important. It was very concise, organized, and informative. And I admire your willingness to create change and put a stop to this issue. Outstanding job!

  6. Hi Christina! You did so amazing on your project! This is an important topic to cover and I hope more attention is brought to it. I know we have discussed this topic before, but I think more people need to learn about this. Your project was clear and well detailed. Well done 🙂

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