Yakuza Friendly Hotels–on the way out. Goodbye Nine-Fingered Discount!

As a part of broader initiatives to expel organized crime from business, new “yakuza exclusion” provisions by the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) go into effect today.

The JTA maintains a “Model Accommodation Contract”, which serves as a widely-accepted set of guidelines recommended for hotels, ryokans, and other lodging facilities.

The agency explains on its website: “As anti-social forces threaten the physical and financial safety of tourists and the hotels themselves, we have enacted new provisions to our existing laws.”

Along with informative stipulations such as “guests may be turned away if there is no vacancy” and “guests may be turned away if equipment breakdowns occur due to a natural disaster”, a new clause states that if a guest is discovered to be an organized crime member, their hotel reservation may be cancelled or they can be turned away. Additionally, they can also be kicked out. Guests may also be asked to leave they act in a violent manner or if they make “considerable trouble” at the hotel.

According to an article in the Asahi Shinbun, the National Police Agency had called for such measures to be taken since 2006. Police hope that such a measure, finally in place, will spread through the rest of the country. Arima Hot Springs Tourism Association, for example, had already implemented such measures. This association of hotels is located in Kobe, which is also the home of the Yamagumi-guchi.

Sado-san of the Japan Tourism Agency, who is coy about his first name, stated that there was no reason in particular that the Agency has decided to implement these provision now; he refers to the ongoing dialogue concerning such provisions that the agency has had with the police over the past few years. Kind of a, “just getting around to it” sort of thing, it seems.

The below excerpts of the contract are taken from the English version online.

Article 5 – Refusal of the Conclusion of the Accommodation Contract
05.01. The following are cases where our Hotel (Ryokan) will not accept the conclusion of the Accommodation Contract:

(4) When the Guest seeking accommodation is considered to be corresponding to the following (a) to (c).
(a) The law in respect to prevention, etc. against illegal actions by gang members (1991 Law item 77)
stipulated article 2 item 2 (hereinafter referred to as “gang group”.), gang member stipulated by the
same law article 2 item 6 (hereinafter referred to as “gang member.”), gang group semi-regular
members or gang member related persons and other antisocial forces.
(b) When gang group or gang members are associates of corporations or other bodies to control
business activities.
(c) When a corporate body has related persons to gang members.

Article 7 – The Right of Our Hotel (Ryokan) to Cancel the Contract
07.01. The following are cases where our Hotel (Ryokan) may cancel the Accommodation Contract:

(2) When the Guest is clearly considered to be corresponding to the following (a) to (c).
(a) Gang group, gang group semi-regular members or gang member related persons and other
antisocial forces.
(b) When a corporate body or other organization where gang groups or gang members control business
activities.
(c) In a corporate body which has persons relevant to gang member in its board member.

Japan Tourism Agency has given the finger to the nine-digit crowd aka the yakuza.

Jake’s notes: Most major hotels in Japan since 2009 have embedded an anti-organized crime exclusionary  clause into the overnight stay contracts guests sign when checking in. A yakuza member who signs in as a hotel guest and conceals his/her yakuza affiliation can then be arrested for fraud, if the hotel agreement has that clause. The anti-organized crime clause was the brain-child of deceased lawyer, and former prosecutor Igari Toshiro. This contractual clause was used this year to arrest the second highest ranking member of the Yamaguchi-gumi Kodo-kai for “playing golf under false pretenses.”  Yakuza are great fans of expensive luxury hotels but as illustrated in Itama Juzo’s classic film 民暴の女(Minbo no Onna/The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion)–they often cost the hotel more in business and in financial losses than what they pay for their top-of-the-line rooms.

NISA Needs To Take Evil Lessons

It has been recently revealed that in 2006 the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency asked Chubu Electric company to recruit citizens to ask “pre-arranged questions” (“やらせ質問”) and speak favorably about nuclear power at public hearings on the proposed use of MOX fuel. These hearings took place in the summer of 2006 in Shizuoka and Ehime prefectures. Certain utilities asked its employees and even local residents to say positive things about the plutonium thermal project to win over support for the controversial proposal.

After getting caught manipulating public opinion to be pro-nuclear and to shut up dissent, NISA distributes "bowing in shame" (土下座)figurines to employees, with mini-manual to improve public opinion of NISA with quality apologies. (Not really.) It's not easy being an atomic cheerleader.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has made the requisite denouncements, promising an independent investigation into the matter, to be published by the end of August.

The Sankei Shinbun reports that according to Chubu Electric, NISA requested they put these “questioners” in inconspicuous locations in the assembly hall. They were also asked to “try not to call on those in opposition to the plutonium thermal proposition,” but to have citizens ask questions that have been pre-made by Chubu Electric. They ended up drafting the questions, but after consulting their legal compliance department, they reaching the conclusion that such an act would be extremely dubious and never actually distributed them. In fact, Sankei reports that some Chubu employees encouraged citizens to “speak honestly, even if your opinions are critical”.

Other utilities went along, however. According to the Asahi Shinbun, Shikoku Electric “sought out 29 people, including local residents, to speak up in the government-sponsored session, providing them with ‘example opinions’ beforehand….One person said at the session: ‘I was somewhat relieved to learn that using fuel made from plutonium blended with uranium would not be very different from using uranium in terms of the gases generated’. The words were similar to the sample opinion.”

There is something darkly funny about the provided  “example opinions”. While this is another serious example of collusion between industry and regulators, the incident also just seems pathetic–conjuring ridiculous images of confused citizens reading awkwardly from index cards, stumbling over the terminology, NISA officials shuffling over to help with the pronunciation of the more challenging nuclear words: “No no, thats actually thor-ium…yes, yes, now please start from the beginning.” This is really the best strategy they had to generate favorable public opinion?

Maybe I’m simply unfazed by these nuclear industry “scandals” the press keeps uncovering, but rather than villianous, the attempts at manipulation just seem too incompetent to take seriously. They could certainly learn a thing or two from the oil barons of the US or the bankers on wall-street. Or maybe it just shows how little effort is required to get away with unethical behavior in an environment as saturated with corruption as Japan’s nuclear industry is.

Jake’s note: NISA is part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The same agency which is now investigating NISA for “improper behavior”. Allegedly, the job of NISA is to regulate the nuclear industry, not be the atomic energy cheerleaders. There were seven NISA inspectors on the site at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear reactor on the day of the earthquake, March 11. All of them fled immediately, leaving very few people competent to measure the radioactive levels at the site or assess the danger leverl. NISA in response to my questions insisted that this was not dereliction of duty.

NISA has never filed criminal charges against TEPCO although the firm has repeatedly forged documents and altered data in over 161 incidents, which constitutes forgery and possibly fraud under Japanese criminal law. If it wasn’t clear that NISA is more about supporting the nuclear industry than regulating it, it is now. They might as well trade in their geiger counters for some pom-poms. It would make the agency more transparent.

People Who Eat Darkness (闇を食う人々)An amazing book and a tissue sample of Japan's social pathological elements

People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman*
By Richard Lloyd Parry (Jonathan Cape 404pp £17.99)

When the disappearance of Lucie Blackman made the news, I was covering it as a reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper. By necessity rather than by choice, I was already familiar with the darker side of the country: I had spent 1999 to 2000 as a police reporter assigned to the 4th District, home of Japan’s largest adult entertainment area, Kabukicho. Despite being from different papers, Richard Lloyd Parry and I worked the story together, exchanging information, contacts and tips. There was a chance that Lucie might still be alive, being held captive somewhere. The hope that reporting on it might make a difference superseded any journalistic rivalry. Now Parry has written a compelling book about the depravity of man, the difficult pursuit of justice, and how we deal with the wrongful deaths of those whom we loved.

Lucie, a young English woman, came to Japan to have fun and make money as a hostess in order to pay off her debts. She never went home. Her alleged killer, Joji Obara, is a clever man and a graduate of the law department of an elite Japanese university. I write ‘alleged’ because, despite all the circumstantial evidence that he was responsible for her death, the Japanese courts have only convicted him of dismembering her corpse. The charges were of rape resulting in death, but they have not yet been proven to the satisfaction of the judiciary. Obara knows that without a full confession, the Japanese police are handicapped, and prosecutors loathe such a case. He also knew enough of the law to prey on foreign hostesses. Hostessing is not allowed on foreign visas. If foreign hostesses go to the police as victims of sexual assault, they themselves are arrested and often deported, and no charges are generally brought against their assailants. (For years, human traffickers in Japan exploited this same fact.)

Every year, roughly 80,000 people go missing in Japan. The police don’t investigate each disappearance, or even a significant fraction of them. Perhaps if Tim Blackman, Lucie’s father, hadn’t raised hell, the case would never have been seriously investigated. But once the Tokyo Police realised that this was not just another missing persons case, they pursued it with vigour and determination. While the police are generally treated fairly in the book, Parry implies that they were uninterested in the case, and this is not so.

Parry’s book describes in detail Tim Blackman’s frustration with the police efforts to track down the phone number of Akira Takagi, one of his daughter’s friends, a few days after she vanished. Explanations of why they couldn’t do it probably seemed disingenuous to the Blackman family. I’m sure they were. The truth is that because of the no-caller-ID setting Takagi had placed on his phone, it wasn’t possible to trace the call. According to Shoji Takao’s Keiji No Banka (‘The Detective’s Dirge’), an in-depth account of the police investigation written with the aid of the detectives who worked the case and published in Japan last year, a huge amount of time and energy was spent examining the fraction of recoverable phone records and developing. a lead on the case.

The Japanese police as a general rule do not reveal information about an ongoing investigation to anyone, because it would hurt their case in court. The usual practice is to conceal critical data that only the criminal could possibly know, in order to obtain an ironclad confession that can’t be explained away by saying, ‘I was just repeating what I read in the papers.’ If the police come off looking lazy, bureaucratic and disinterested, it’s simply because they care more about getting the perpetrator then they do about social niceties. One detective who worked the case put it this way: ‘The best thing we can do for the family is to see that justice is served. Everything else is secondary.’

One of the ironies of the case was that some of the key sources who helped the police track down Obara were yakuza affiliates of a Tokyo-based crime group. They are not generally good Samaritans but there are three things that the group bans and that are cause for immediate expulsion: theft, robbery and rape. Obara was scum even in their eyes. When Lucie’s body was found, one member of the group contacted me with a message: ‘If Obara doesn’t get the death penalty, we could administer it. Prisons are full of accidents. Let Mr Blackman know. If that’s what he wants, we’ll see that justice is done.’

Obara has also been found guilty of raping several other women and of killing Carita Ridgway, a well-liked girl from Perth, Australia. (Ridgway and I had a mutual friend, a classmate of mine who worked at the same hostess bar as Ridgway and whose testimony was used to convict Obara. It’s a small, ugly world sometimes.) People Who Eat Darkness is also about these other women, and the suffering of their family members and friends. Furthermore, it is an indictment of Japanese society, in which sexual crimes against women, especially those working in the adult entertainment world, frequently go uninvestigated. Rape is a crime punishable by as little as three years in jail; at the time Lucie vanished, the penalty was only two years. Even today, a first-time offender, if he admits guilt and pays damages to the victim, may still get a suspended sentence.

Parry has spent years researching and writing this book. It allows readers to experience Japan’s S&M subculture, the police bureaucracy, and the tightly controlled press club system, parts of Japan that most Japanese never know. One also feels one is reliving the tragedy as a friend of the family, with all the agony it involves. It’s a journey worth taking, if you have the stomach for it.

I never passed on that message from the yakuza. After finishing Richard Lloyd Parry’s book, part of me wishes that I had. However, there are some choices that I think people should be spared from making. We are all responsible for our own choices. The choices that Obara made ruined the lives of many. The choices of Lucie’s family and some courageous victims are what put him behind bars. Like every exceptional book, there is a moral to this tale. But it’s up to readers to determine for themselves just what that moral really is.

Note: In June this year (2011) Richard Parry had a book talk at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan that was enlightening and informative. My live (at the time) tweet feed on the conference can be read by clicking here. Thanks to @nofrills on Twitter for compiling it. Many other related books in Japanese can be found at the bottom of the page.

*This review was originally published in the British periodical, The Literary Review and is reprinted with their position. It’s a great magazine for those who love reading.

Why Japan's Mainstream Media Can't Be Trusted To Report Objectively On TEPCO (東京電力)

When the earthquake struck Japan on March 11th and knocked out TEPCO’s Fukushima nuclear reactor, setting off a chain reaction of disasters–TEPCO’s chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata was nowhere to be found.  Where was he? He was on a tour of China with members of some of Japan’s largest media outlets–and TEPCO was footing the bill.

On March 30th, not only did TEPCO admit that the chairman had been taking Japanese mass media power brokers on the trip to China but also that TEPCO paid the majority of the travel fees for the participants. On April 7th, a reporter asked TEPCO to reveal the names of the mass media firms that had executives and/or former executives joining the chairman on his trip, but TEPCO dodged the question.

It’s well known that TEPCO pays huge advertising fees to most media outlets; it is one of the largest advertisers in Japan. It’s not as well known that the president of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu, is also the chairman of  the Japan Society for Corporate Communication Studies (JSCCS), which includes among its members former and current top executives from Asahi Beer, Toyota, and Dentsu, Japan’s largest advertising agency. The board of directors also includes a representative of Nihon Television’s Reporting Bureau, Economic News section:

大野 伸 (日本テレビ放送網(株) 報道局 経済部)

In a sense, the president of TEPCO is the chairman of what is whispered to be the equivalent of a lobby group that wields the power of advertising revenue over anyone who crosses their paths. It is ostensibly a group of scholars, executives, advertising agency bosses, mass media representatives, and businessmen who gather together to study more effective means of communications. Veteran Japanese reporters assert that the society also functions as powerful consortium of large corporations who know how to use the threat of taking away advertising dollars as a whip to keep the Japanese media muzzled.

You don’t have to be too bright to figure out that if TEPCO, Toyota, Asahi Beer and Dentsu somehow banded together and pulled advertising from your newspaper, television channel, or radio program, that it would be financially devastating. In the April edition of weekly magazine Asahi Geino, Noted journalist, Takashi Uesugi claims that on March 15th, after repeatedly lampooning and criticizing TEPCO on TBS Radio that the producer asked him to leave the show, claiming that the program was being “revamped.” TBS Radio refuses to comment on the issue at present.

Masataka Shimizu, the president of TEPCO, is still listed as the chairman of the JSCCS but on April 1st his “greetings” were taken down from the sight and replaced with the words of the vice-chairman. The current page expresses condolences to the victims of the recent disasters. There is no mention of the problems at the Fukushima reactor,  only that Chairman Shimizu is now too busy dealing with the disaster to fully devote himself to his duties for the organization.

According to a mainstream Japanese media reporter, the TEPCO tours of China have been going on for over ten year. “The trips have a token amount of study, such as visiting a factory, or whatever has been scheduled to justify the event for that year. In reality, most of the day is devoted to sight-seeing. At night the TEPCO executives wine and dine the reporters, editors, or  mass media representatives. And of course, the obligatory karaoke.”

It’s not surprising that much of the Japanese mainstream media has been less than critical of  TEPCO up until now. It’s very hard to raise your voice loud enough to be heard from inside the pocket of your sponsor.

The president of TEPCO also is chairman of the Japan Society For Corporate Communication Studies. Their motto: "Striving to create a new vision of society." It may be a myopic one.

Nuclear Ginza: Japan's secret at-risk labor force and the Fukushima disaster

Back in 1995, the UK’s Channel 4 produced a 30-minute documentary on Japan’s nuclear industry and how they use disadvantaged people, including burakumin and other day laborers, to do manual labor inside their power plants. And by inside, I mean inside. Some were forced to work right next to the room where the core was kept, in the dark and drenched in sweat; one man tells how he was forced to mop up radioactive water with towels.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

(via The Atomic Age, thank you to Shihoku Fujiwara of Polaris Project for the link)

One would like to think that things have changed over the years, but even now in Fukushima, reports are being published that tell how people are being lured with offers of up to ¥400,000 per day to work at the nuclear reactors–many of whom are victims of the tsunami. Because of high radiation levels the amount of time each person can spend inside is limited. TEPCO confirms they’re working with outside agencies to secure enough workers to keep operations running, but refused to comment on how much each person is being paid.

Sumo Wrestlers Fixed Matches, But Who Gave The Orders?

Japanese police sources are saying that there is evidence sumo wrestlers contacted each other via cell-phone to fix sumo matches in advance.  AFP has an excellent piece on the recent developments. AP also has a substantial follow-up piece posted as well. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Organized Crime Control Division has been aware of contacts, collusion, corruption and betting between members of the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group and sumo wrestlers since 2008, but only really began investigating the links in September of 2009. The actual investigation is grinding to a halt with the arrest of a few key figures. At present, it seem unlikely that the police will press charges against any sumo members for throwing matches or fixing the outcomes of various bouts. It is unclear why the wrestlers threw matches or who gave them the orders to do so.

In a way, it’s kind of vindicating to see the investigation turn out as I expected it would and a little disappointing. In this interview with AP in July of 2010, I expounded as succinctly as possible on the problems with yakuza and the sumo world.

“Sumo is involved in organized crime because they’ve had a symbiotic relationship for years,” said Jake Adelstein, a former crime beat reporter for a Japanese newspaper and author of the best-selling book “Tokyo Vice.” “The wrestlers and the yakuza have a macho admiration for each other. The yakuza by being seen with the sumo wrestlers, acquire ‘status’ and the sumo wrestlers get money, booze, food, and women.”

Adelstein said smaller training stables don’t have big corporate sponsors and need the money the yakuza offer. “The average salary of a sumo wrestler is a pittance and they need the cash,” he said, adding that once a wrestler is beholden to the mob he is vulnerable to demands to throw bouts — which the gangsters bet on — to clear his debt.”

In the best of worlds, the sumo baseball betting scandal would be pursued until it was proven that yakuza had also been involved in match-rigging as well. Perhaps the latest judicious leak from the police is an attempt to garner public outcry so that they can pursue the investigation even farther. However, if I was going to bet on the outcome, which I would never do, since gambling is a crime in Japan–I’d bet that the investigation ends with a few arrests and a post-humous prosecution of the yakuza boss who was believed to have organized a great deal of the betting.

I wouldn’t mind losing the hypothetical bet, though.

UPDATE:  The current head of the Japan Sumo Association(JSA)  has apologized for the scandal and announced that they will conduct a serious investigation into recent allegations. With a former lawyer for an organized crime front company still working with the JSA, we can probably be pretty sure that the investigation will uncover nothing more than a convenient scapegoat.

Yakuza Not Leaving The Construction Industry With A Whimper But A Bang

Under the guidance of the National Police Agency, the construction industry is taking great steps to remove yakuza (boryokudan) and other anti-social forces from public works projects and all aspects of the construction industry. Apparently, the yakuza are not happy with this new impetus. On the morning of October 12th, in Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Kami Ochiai 4-chome, a gun was found near the entrance of a demolition and construction site for Seibo University. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Totsuka PD were notified and found that a shot had been fired through the steel fence surrounding the construction site. The gun found at the scene was an automatic with several rounds still intact.

According to news reports, an unidentifed man working close to the site, heard sounds like a tire being punctured at 2:40 am on the same day. Since October of last year, there have been four other construction sites in Tokyo where bullets were fired.  The construction company working on the Seibo University site has gone on record that it will be severing ties with all organized crime groups and implementing that policy in its larger public works as well.  Police sources believe that this case was a clear warning by an organized crime group, hungry for construction projects, that they will not be easily dismissed.  The relationships between this shooting and previous incidents is unclear. If you were in a punny mood, you could say that gunshots represent yakuza “destructive criticism” of the new policies rather than the usual “constructive criticism” that one would hope for from these chivalorous groups.

"Don't fear the yakuza, pay them off, or use them." from the Tokyo Metro Police HP. Tokyo is actively trying to push the yakuza out of construction and the business world. New ordinances will add impetus.

Prior to this incident, on October 6th, the 19th annual Tokyo Citizens For the Banishment of Organized Crime Meeting/Boryokudan Tsuiho Tomin Taikai (暴力団追放都民会)was held at the Hibiya Kokaido and participants, which included several construction company executives, pledged “Not to fear organized crime, nor to give them money, nor to use their services.”The Tokyo City Government is expected to pass an organized crime exclusionary ordinance (暴力団排除条例)  this year which will make paying off the yakuza (指定暴力団)a crime, and will also allow the police to release the names of companies that do business with the yakuza. Seven prefectures already have similar laws on the books. The new laws will make the price of paying off the yakuza, in loss of face and in penalties,  much more expensive than the actual cash payments to the yakuza.  It highly incentives firms not to cooperate or collude with organized crime, much as the revisions to the commerce law in December 1997, made it unacceptable for large listed companies to pay off sokaiya (総会屋)ie racketeers. After a few company executives were arrested for “giving profits to racketeers” the pay offs drastically declined as did the number of sokaiya.

For footage of the construction site and more details see the NHK News Report.

Note: On a more serious note, for the safety of the construction firms and their employees, that are being targetted for reprisals by organized crime, we have omitted the company names from the article.

Upcoming Event: Polaris Project seminar

Jake will be giving a talk about the law-enforcement side of fighting human trafficking at Polaris Project’s monthly seminar series, “You Know Human Trafficking?”

Date: Saturday, September 25 from 7-9pm

Location: JICA Chikyu Hiroba Seminar Room 301 (Map)
(One-minute walk from Exit 3, Hiroo Station, Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)

Admission: 1,000 yen, 500 yen for students with ID

To register for the seminar, please fill out this form (Japanese only),

For more information, contact:
Polaris Project Japan Office
TEL:050-3496-7615
E-mail: info@polarisproject.jp

Reports of Nagoya tournament suffering due to sumo scandal

Amongst much controversy, the Grand Sumo Nagoya Tournament has gone on (mostly) as planned, despite NHK’s refusal to broadcast the event and a boycott by a number of sponsors (but not McDonalds!). It’s far from business as usual, however, as an increased police presence and visible security cameras don’t make sumo fans feel quite as welcome as in previous years.

The Mainichi ran an article recently about how the the tournament has been affected, citing an increase of empty seats as just one of the issues facing his highly-monitored event. A great bit of flavor comes from an account of two fans who got into a fight because one offhandedly said the other looked like a yakuza:

「暴力団……」。2日目の取組終了後、黒いサングラスをつけていた愛知県安城市の男性(62)が会場の外に出ようとしたところ、他の観客の男性からこうささやかれた。2人は口論になり、警察官が仲裁に入った。

サングラスの男性は「まさか自分が暴力団に間違われるとは。頭にくる。雰囲気が異常だった。名古屋場所は開催すべきではなかったのではないか」と憤った。

At the end of the second day of the tournament, a 62-year-old man from Aichi Prefecture who was wearing black sunglasses was exciting the arena when a fellow fan mumbled, “bouryokudan…” The two got into an argument that ended after security guards intervened.

The man with the glasses commented angrily, “How dare he mistake me for a gang member. It’s really insulting. The whole atmosphere here is really strange. Maybe they shouldn’t have held the tournament at all.”

The article goes on to report that a woman in charge of the information desk at the tournament says that they haven’t gotten even half the number of viewers they typically host and that there’s been a number of cancellations.

Comments from those who did attend the tournament seem to indicate a common sentiment that the entire thing has been blown out of proportion. One 60-year-old local said he thinks the punishment against Kotomitsuki  is too harsh for just gambling on baseball, while a middle school student commented that he wished the Sumo Association “would consider the fans.”

Other news reports tell tales of a large but still disappointing turnout on the first day. While 90% capacity is considered “full house” for the event, the July 11 opening reportedly saw 7,200 of the 8,100–or 89 percent–of the arena’s seats filled. This year was the first since 1985 that the tournament couldn’t roll out their “manin onrei banner,” signaling a full house. Reports of the second day, cite attendance numbers even lower at only around 4,500–800 fewer than last year.

A number of sponsors have also pulled out, leaving the tournament with around 80 percent fewer prizes than in past years. It was reported that on the second day of the event had only 12 gifts, the third 10, and according to the Mainichi, today saw only 11. Understandable that Japanese companies are pulling out sponsorship in the face of scandal (some of us probably remember the heat sponsors gave poor Tsuyoshi Kusanagi after his romp in Roppongi), but it certainly can’t be very encouraging for wrestlers who are already battling it out to a bunch of empty seats.

Fuzoku Friday: In the news this week

A couple things going on in the fuzoku world this week:

In a move to put a stop to illegal deai-kei cafes, the National Police Agency announced they will tighten regulations regarding love hotels from January of next year. Although the businesses appear to be love hotels, they do not meet standards set by law and some are used as a location for enjo-kosai. Says the Mainichi Daily:

There are about 3,590 facilities that closely resemble love hotels but are not recognized as such because they do not meet the standards set by the current law, according to the NPA. About 80 percent of them are situated in areas where adult entertainment businesses are prohibited by law.

According to the Asahi, the new regulations will specify that love hotels are businesses that have “rest” and “stay” prices displayed in front of the building, have an entrance that is shrouded by curtains or some other obstruction, and may be used without seeing employees face-to-face. Those under 18 years of age must be prohibited from entering, and the business cannot be within 200 meters of a school.

Also from the Mainichi Daily (and a great AP article here), Japan has finally begun to respond to international pressure regarding child pornography, with the National Police Agency and other government ministries pressuring the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to agree to ban access to websites dealing in child porn instead of simply demanding site owners delete them. Despite some concerns that the move may be an infringement of freedom of expression, most seem to welcome the plan. And it couldn’t come sooner, as the day after the announcement was made police reported that seven child pornography sites–five “ranking” sites and one run privately–had been discovered and the owners ordered to shut them down. Still waiting for them to get their act together on the junior idol stuff..

Back on the fuzoku topic, it was reported today that a Dentsu employee was arrested for running a nightclub in Kanagawa Prefecture that illegally employed Filipino waiters and hostesses. The man started the club in August 2006, reportedly trying to pay off debts he accumulated through “entertainment” and the purchase of a 43 million yen condo. To staff the pub, he started a fake web design company to get work visas for the Philippine nationals. As we learned earlier, Dentsu is known as being quite the harsh taiikukai-kei company, so you have to wonder where the entrepreneur found the time to run his other operation.