You Don’t Know, Creap! 3 Odd Facts About Japan’s Awkwardly Named Coffee Creamer

Never judge a dairy product by its cover.
Never judge a dairy product by its cover.

Moringa Milk’s awkwardly named coffee creamer, Creap (クリープ), has long been the source of adoration and ridicule for the devoted Japanophile. This delightful dairy based product gets its name from “Creaming Powder for Coffee” (コーヒー用クリーミングパウダー)which was shortened to Creap. Obviously, the other meaning for the word as “to sneak up on slowly” or “generally unpleasant weird individual” wasn’t known to Morinaga at the time.

Creap! It's not just your neighbor, it's Japan's only dairy based coffee creamer and its delish!
Creap! It’s not just your neighbor, it’s Japan’s only dairy based coffee creamer and its delish!

According to Maboroshi Channel,  Creap’s own website, and other sources, the product was first launched in Showa 35 (1960) around the time that instant coffee became widely sold in Japan. Creap, which actually includes milk, differing from non-dairy creamers, was considered the perfect pairing for instant coffee. It doesn’t go bad quickly and just like instant coffee, all you have to do is stir it in hot water and there you have it ready to consume.

Creap, the awkwardly named powdered milk product, was first launched in Showa 35 (1960) around the time that instant coffee became widely sold in Japan. Creap, which actually includes milk, thus differing from non-dairy creamers, was considered the perfect pairing for instant coffee. It doesn’t go bad quickly and just like instant coffee, all you have to do is stir it in hot water and there you have it ready to consume.

At first the product didn’t sell very well because no one was quite sure what it was but after adding illustrations of coffee to the label, the brand recognition sky-rocketed and along with instant coffee, Creap became a huge hit in Japan. The advertisement campaign in 1969 (coincidentally the same year that the future messiah was born) featuring Japanese actor Shinsuke Ashida, further cemented Creap in the Japanese consciousness. The catchy phrase, “クリープを入れないコーヒーなんて” (Coffee without Creap is just….”  became a part of the national dialect.  The smooth taste of the powdered substance along with the pleasant smell of sweet milk made it much beloved by the Japanese population.

However, in recent years, Creap has lost some of its appeal as people have switched to vegetable oil based non-dairy creamers either because they’re lactose intolerant or they’re counting calories. Well, if you check out the Creap trivia page you’ll find that actually Creap has less calories than many vegetable fat based alternatives. (BTW, if you’re a Vegan, you’re still going to hate Creap.)

So for your education and in order to collect the 10 billion dollars that the makers of Creap are not actually paying me for this long product placement avertorial, here are 3 Not-Creepy Things You Didn’t Know About Creap.

1. Creap is Japan’s only “creamy powder” (coffee creamer) made in Japan that actually uses milk as a main ingredient. It’s because it’s milk-based that you get ” a rich and slightly sweet taste”.

2. In reality, Creap has few calories than vegetable fat based creamers! People often mistakenly believe that vegetable fat based creamers are lower in calories. Fail! One spoonful of delicious, rich and slightly sweet Creap has only 15 calories! Suck on that Coffee-mate!

3. You can even use Creap in cooking. Why only have Creap with your coffee or tea? Creap in its powder form lasts long and is easy to use in any number of recipes where its creamy taste adds to the mix. Scones, pancakes, and even stew–Creap is totally versatile. Open your own Creap Kitchen today!

Haunted House or Creap Kitchen? Which would you rather have?
Haunted House or Creap Kitchen? Which would you rather have?

 

 

“Hashbrowns” are the 2012 Food of the Year says Japanese Diners Association

Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Japan — JAN. 11 — In its 23rd annual food of the year vote, the  Japanese Diners Association, dedicated to promoting American food culture in Japan,  voted “hashbrowns” as the food  of the year for 2012. Hashbrowns refers to a dish of cooked potatoes, typically with onions added, that have been chopped into small pieces and fried until a golden brown. They are often served in American diners, which are typically small roadside restaurants with a long counter and booths, originally designed to resemble a dining car on a train.  Such diners have become increasingly popular in Japan in recent years, of course, with obligatory quick-witted and wryly funny waitresses in short, sexy, and colorful uniforms. Hashbrowns can be served with gravy or cheese on top, and in Japan, are often dusted with finely cut strips of 海苔 (nori/Japanese seaweed). In the Kansai area, hashbrowns often include chunks of fried octopus along with the onions and are served with a healthy side of Kewpie Mayonnaise.

Presiding at the Jan. 11 voting session were JDA Executive Secretary Jimmy Tanaka of Tokyo University,  and Jacky Yamamoto, chair of the New Foods Committee of the American Diner and US Cooking Society and creator of Japan’s popular website beri.guu.dinersinjapan.com. Yamamoto is also a short order chef at The French Kitchen in the Grand Hyatt Tokyo during the weekend brunches and a professor of nuclear engineering at Kyoto University during the week.

#hashbrowns.  Finally, this tasty potato dish gets some respect in Japanese diners.
#hashbrowns. Finally, this tasty potato dish gets some respect in Japanese diners.

“This was the year when hashbrowns became a ubiquitous item in all the diners in Japan ,” Tanaka said. “In Tokyo and Osaka and elsewhere, hashbrowns have become a major dining trend, spreading bite-sized greasy blasts of American culture to everyone who loves eating classic American food in a Japanized Diner environment.”

Yamamoto also added, “Hashbrowns, like nuclear power plants, are very easy to make and bring much deliciousness into our lives. However, if you mess up an order of hashbrowns, you do not have to spend 10,000 years cleaning up the mess so in this way, they are different from nuclear power plants, ” he quipped.

Food of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “menu item” — not just a dish but often as part of a set. Thus, hash browns & gravy did not constitute a separate entry.  The foods do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year. Members in the 24-year-old organization which sponsors the growth of “diner cuisine” in Japan includes truck drivers, famous chefs, the US Ambassador to Japan, surly expatriates teaching English, frustrated writers looking to create a modern fictional masterpiece based on life in Japan and looking for a place to drink cheap coffee with internet access, lonely old white guys married to Japanese women, students, travel guide writers, and independent scholars. In conducting the vote, they act in great merriment and do not pretend to be officially setting the criteria for what is “diner food” in this tiny island country.

Last year’s winner was, “Flapjacks”, with “real maple syrup” coming in second place.

*The Japanese Diners Association does not really exist and no such food of the year award was given at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo today. However, this might have happened in an alternative universe, very much like our own. 

The Cell Phone From Galapagos: Japan’s gara-kei (ガラケー) 

Once upon a time, Japan was the world’s leader in making kick ass cell-phones. They were even called “multi-function phones” in the days before “smart phones.” We expatriates would return home with our latest cell-phones, with mega-pixel cameras or built in IC recorders installed and brandish them in front of our friends, like we were showing Zippo lighters to primitive natives still making fire with sticks.

Japan’s king of communications, NTT, even developed its own simplified Internet home pages which you could access via NTT’s special “i-mode”. (That’s right, before there was an iPhone there was i-mode, baby. And it was awesome.)

How awesome was i-mode? What the hell was i-mode? Here’s a great explanation from the technological classic i-mode strategy published to critical acclaim in 2002!

Japan's cell phones were once at the top of the mobile computing evolutionary change. Before iPhone there was i-mode. (Now virtually extinct)
Japan’s cell phones were once at the top of the mobile computing evolutionary change. Before iPhone there was i-mode. (Now virtually extinct)

First introduced in 1999, i-mode was the world’s first smart phone for Web browsing. The i-mode wireless data service offers color and video over a variety of handsets. Its mobile computing service enables users to do telephone banking, make airline reservations, conduct stock transactions, send and receive e-mail, play games, access weather reports and have access to the Internet. It can offer a wide array of websites from internationally known companies such as CNN to very local information.

In Japan, the number of i-mode users is close to a sensational 13 million. This means that 10% of Japan’s total population are using i- mode after not even 2 years of its existence.

i-mode Strategy authored by one of the main architects behind i-mode:

* Discusses the success story of i-mode to date

* Offers highly probable future projections for the technology

Written by the most highly respected expert in the field, i-mode Strategy is an absolute must for everyone wanting to know more about NTT DoCoMo’s sustainable business model and i-mode strategy

 

The problem with i-mode was that it wasn’t a sustainable business model. Because when the iPhone came out in 2007, suddenly it was possible to see the World-Wide-Web (The Internet) without using i-mode or any weird Japanese proprietary formats.

Japan kept making cell-phone that weren’t compatible with the rest of the world and only worked well within the confines of Japan. The development of Japanese cell-phone and mobile technology has been compared to the evolution of life on the very isolated Galapagos Islands. Nowadays, Japan-made flip open old-fashioned cell-phones are referred to as gara-kei. It’s short for Galapagos + keitaidenwa (携帯電話/cell-phones). It’s also verbal short-hand for saying “a cheap, uncool and out of date mobile phone.”

These days, only middle-aged men, the elderly, or small children are carrying around gara-kei. Whether Japan itself is falling into Galapagos Syndrome is something I’ll let others debate. Devin Stewart explains it far better than I could.

As much as I love Japan, I’m definitely sticking with my iPhone. It works very well with almost everything. Maybe someday soon there will be an app that will let me access i-mode so I can fully experience Japanese mobile computing. One can hope.

Facebook Is Stalking You, Baby. (Notes From The Uncanny Valley, Japan)

Today when I logged into Facebook, I was greeted with the following message in my status bar:

How are you feeling, Jake? 

The short answer is: I’m feeling a  little uncomfortable, baby. Because I’m not used to my social media site talking to me like a girlfriend who believes I’m a mental case. The opening salvo also seems like a psychotherapist checking in, a little warily, just  see if I’m going to hold it together. This first query was followed by a series of similar probing questions every-time I logged in. It’s like a Facebook somehow gained sentience and turned into a girl friend with some stalking issues. Maybe it’s time to reassess the relationship.  Maybe I’ve just been too casual about it.

"How's it going, Jake?" "What's happening, Jake?" "How's it going, Jake?"I want to say, "Please call me, 'Mr. Adelstein'."
“How’s it going, Jake?” “What’s happening, Jake?”
“How’s it going, Jake?” Suddenly, Facebook is not only speaking to me, we’re on a first name basis, and it’s asking intimate questions. And we haven’t even really seriously dated yet.
I want to say, “Please call me, ‘Mr. Adelstein’.”

 

“How’s it going , Jake?” “What’s happening, Jake” “What’s up, Jake?” —I think that would have probably been less unsettling but perhaps more annoying. There’s something almost sinister and sneaky in that phrasing “How are you feeling” coupled suddenly with my first name, that makes me feel like I’m being interrogated. Sooner or later, “What’s wrong, Jake?” is going to flash across my screen and as I try to log off, FB is going to tell me, I can’t let you do that, Jake.”

Jake, I know that you're planning to log off and I'm afraid I can't let that happen. And how are you feeling, today?
Jake, I know that you’re planning to log off and I’m afraid I can’t let that happen. And how are you feeling, today?

There’s a phenomenon in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence known as the “uncanny valley” hypothesis, which asserts that when computers and objects look or act very much like humans, but not perfectly, that the cognitive dissonance creates a feeling of revulsion or a dip (valley) in comfort levels. These new series of default status statements on Facebook, framed like questions from a confidante soliciting confession or disclosure, on a first-name basis as well—they seem over the line to me. They also seem a little much for what has been a casual relationship that seems to be moving up to a level of intensity I’m just not at home with anymore.

And then I realized that what I found the most annoying was the presumption that Facebook and I were equals. Or perhaps, that Facebook even considered itself a superior sentient being. Which is really silly. But in Japan, I’m so used to adding an honorific (-san, -sama, -chan, -kun) to the person I’m addressing that I’m a little taken back when someone I don’t know, or I don’t think I know, suddenly refers to me by my first name only. It can show a serious lack of respect in a relationship. In Japan, one way of really insulting someone, showing over-familiarity, or disdain is to call someone by their first name, with no honorific attached at all. (If my Mom calls me Jake, I’m okay with that.) It’s also a tactic to show superiority. In Japanese terms and in age, I’m the 先輩 (senpai/senior) and FB is the 後輩 (junior) and I feel we’re in a power struggle in the relationship now.

I thought it was underhanded and sneaky when she (Facebook) suddenly said she could sell any of my Instagram photos if she wanted to. Yes, maybe we’re taking them together now and then, but they’re my photos.  I’m not sure I appreciate her sharing them with other people without telling me. And the constant double standards and often unannounced changes in our privacy agreements–well, that makes me feel uneasy as well. I never know where we stand in our relationship. I’m forced to constantly tweak it.

I guess I don’t completely hate  the new series of greetings but you know, as the saying goes –親しい仲にも礼儀あり(Shitashii naka ni mo reigi ari/Even amongst the closest of friends there must be politeness and decorum) —I’d appreciate a little distance.  It’s not like Facebook and I are in a serious monogamous relationship. I flirt with twitter.  I have this blog thing going on. I’m not ready to settle down with just one social media platform. I know I sound like a commitment-phobe but she’s just a little too pushy these days. I need some space. I like what we have but the constant suggestions as to what I should read, eat, drink, wear and who I should be friends with–it’s like she’s trying to run my life.

At the very least, can I get a “How are you feeling, Jake-san?” for the time being? Just a little respect. In all fairness, I should say,  I may not always answer that question because I’m not really comfortable with this touchy feely stuff. In other words, Facebook-chan, if you are going to ask me how I’m doing or what I’m doing, over and over, in many different ways, I’d ask that you do it just a little more politely–and less persistently. Because Facebook-baby*, you’re really creeping me out.

"How are feeling, Mr. Frosty-san?"
“How are feeling, Mr. Frosty-san?”

*In Hollywood, “–baby”, is an honorific, much like -san, -kun, -chan in the Japanese language. In Seattle, “-baby” can be replaced by “–man” or “–dude.” 

 

Japanese Police Women To Go Up To 10% Of Force….by 2023.

The National Police Agency 2012 Edition of the annual White Paper on Crime hit bookstores last week with details of Japan’s shocking plan to raise the number of women in the police force from 6.8% to a stunning 10% by 2023.  The winds of change are blowing like a typhoon here in this insular island country.

In a special section of the report,  Concerning the hiring and use of female police officers (女性警察官の採用・登用の拡大), for the first time in the history of the report, the National Police Agency laid out concrete plans for integrating more police officers into the overwhelmingly male police force. The report was even nice enough to add, “For maintaining public order and the vigor of the organization, highly skilled female police officers are indispensable.”  Currently female police officers constitute roughly 7% of the 250,000 police officers nationwide.

Traditionally, Japanese police women have been relegated to the traffic section but increasingly are being made detectives and handling consultations about domestic violence and stalking. Stalking cases are reportedly growing in number every year. One reason that may exist for the growth in stalking cases is that police departments which were reluctant to take such cases have become much more pro-active. The reasons for this involve several very public cases of police officers failing to act on stalking complaints and people getting killed as a result. For example, in March it became apparent that Chiba police officers postponed investigating a suspected case of assault and stalking and instead took a three-day fun-filled trip to Hokkaido. The suspect in the case killed the mother and grandmother of the 27 year old woman he had been stalking. There were outcries for increased enforcement and revision of the stalking laws.

And of course, recent cases of police officers acting lewdly toward teenage girls and sexually harassing their own police woman co-worker haven’t been good for the image of the Japanese police either. It may be that 1% of the future female 10% of  the force will be devoted to policing fellow police officers. Let’s hope conduct improves and there are better things for lady cops to do by then.

Habanero Kimichi Potato Chips: Review

Do not swallow the red hot iron ball, and then cry, “I am in great pain!” –Buddhist proverb 

Habanero Kimchi Potato Chips. Sweet, spicy, and loaded with things you don't want to really know about. Probably.

Tohato, a snack maker, was the first Japanese company to successfully combine habanero peppers and potatoes into a delicious and spicy potato chip several years ago. What is a habenero? If jalapeño peppers were Bruce Banner, habanero would be The Incredible Hulk.  They are a small chili pepper that are allegedly the hottest variety available. They are also sometimes called Scotch Bonnets, which makes a lot of sense if you know of Scotland’s secret history of really spicy cuisine. (Not true).

The original Habanero potato chips, 暴君ハバネロチッコス have to be prepared under strict supervision with the workers wearings surgical masks to avoid being clobbered by the habanero fumes. Since then, Tohato, has created several varieties of them, the latest being the Habenero Kimichi Chips (暴君ハバネロチップス・ハバチスタミナキムチ味). What is Kimchi? Kimchi is a traditional spicy pickled cabbage, which is the national dish of Korea. According to one retired yakuza I know, kimchi is also one of the few things that can cover up the smell of a decaying corpse but I’ve not verified this with a third party.  Personally, I like the taste of kimchi and don’t find the smell too awful.

The Tohato Habanero chips are easy to spot by the 暴君ハバネロ (bokun-habanero/Habanero Despot) symbol. It’s a little red vegetable figure that looks like he was the bastard child of a Jack-O-Lantern and Mrs. Habanero. He appears to have no arms or legs but yet manages to stand erect which is sort of an amazing feat.

Tohato’s latest culinary masterpiece is a delicate blend of habanero, garlic, powdered kimchi, ginger and some other things that I’m afraid to look up. Surprisingly, the taste is relatively mild and sweet but still manages to make my eyeballs sweat. If you wash it down with a small can of Mad-Croc Energy Cola, you’ll feel revitalized and powered up much like a North Korean “satellite” ready to be launched. However, for me the real joy of these potato chips is that they produce an allergic reaction in me personally which makes my hands go numb, my lips feel I used Tiger Balm on them as a moisturizer, and began I look a lot like an extra from the movie CONTAGION–even the tip of my nose starts tingling and turns red. However, even though I know the risks, once I’ve opened a bag of these delicious sweet and spicy chips, I can’t stop eating them until my fingers are too numb to carry them to my mouth.

If the Buddha was my editor, I’m sure he’d tell me, “Do not munch on the red-hot potato chips you are probably allergic to and then cry, “I am really numb and itchy.” However, since there is no one to stop me, I think I’ll definitely eat them again. Savor at your own peril. Available at LAWSON and other fine convenience stores.

The Melting Sun: Japan’s Nuclear Follies

In light of all the recent information that has come to light about TEPCO and the Japanese nuclear industry’s problems and involvement with anti-social forces, not to mention the industry’s history of criminal malfeasance, we have decided to repost Professor Kingston’s chapter on the subject. It’s from his eerily prescient book  Contemporary Japan  published long before the Fukushima triple meltdown. It’s a long read but well-worth it. We first posted this in June of 2011. 

They (the Japanese power companies including TEPCO) are also seeking to extend the shelf life of their plants to 60 years, double what experts thought prudent when they built the plants. In the context of fewer and shorter inspections, and a record of falsifying safety reports, the implications are unsettling in light of the potential harm of an accident.“–August 24th, 2010, Jeff Kingston. Professor of History and Director of Asian Studies at Temple University writing in his book Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change Since The 1980s

CONTEMPORARY JAPAN explores the cover-up, accidents, and corruption endemic to Japan's nuclear power industry. An excellent book on modern-day Japan.

“Polls consistently reveal that 70-75 percent of Japanese have misgivings about nuclear power and fear that serious accidents might happen….”

Those fears were well founded. The history of Japan’s nuclear industry is as dark as Fukushima Prefecture was on the night of March 11th, when a 9.0 earthquake devastated  the nation and a meltdown took place at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) ‘s Fukushima Daiichi Reactor. TEPCO is only one company among several that has had nuclear “accidents.”  In his book published in 2010, Professor Kingston describes the problems and history of Japan’s nuclear power industry. With his permission, Japan Subculture Research Center is publishing the relevant chapters from his book cited above. The book eloquently and objectively sheds light on a the problems endemic in Japan’s nuclear power plants, the ministries that oversee them, and the private companies which manage them, often quite badly and to the detriment of the general public.

pg. 149

Nuclear Follies

The Japanese government puts a great deal of faith in, and spends massive amounts of money on, nuclear energy. This reflects policy-makers’ dream of securing energy self-sufficiency and explains why two-thirds of the national energy research and development budget is devoted to nuclearpower. In terms of reducing carbon emissions and reducing dependence on oil imported from the Middle East, it is a sensible policy. However, there are good reasons why the majority of Japanese remain skeptical about nuclear power.

Japan has witnessed a series of nuclear accidents over the past two decades that raise serious concerns in an earthquake-prone nation with ambitious nuclear power plans. Japan is totally dependent on imported energy and has thus invested billions of dollars since the 1950s in developing its nuclear energy program. Public concerns about the safety of nuclear power contrast sharply with official insistence that the nation’s facilities are both safe and necessary. Polls consistently reveal that 70-75 percent of Japanese have misgivings about nuclear power and fear that serious accidents might happen.

With dwindling reserves of fossil fuels, high prices, and growing concern about greenhouse gases related to consumption of these fuels, the prospects for the nuclear power industry have brightened considerably. Advocates assert that nuclear power is the trump card in the battle to reduce emissions and curb global warming while critics suggest it is more of a wild card given the risks, high costs, and long-term waste disposal issues involved.

Japan currently operates 55 nuclear power plants, up from 32 in 1987, that supply nearly 35 percent of its electricity needs. The government plans to raise the share of energy generated by nuclear power to 41 percent by 2014. Since 1998 two nuclear power reactors have started up with six more currently slated for installation or expansion. In the following sections we examine some notorious incidents and aspects of Japan’s nuclear power program that help explain why so many Japanese have considerable qualms about the potential environmental consequences. Continue reading The Melting Sun: Japan’s Nuclear Follies

"Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in Japan. The New Victims: Japanese Teenagers"

子ども性被害防止で相談HP

Note: I’ve been working with the Polaris Project Japan, a non-profit organization that combats human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children, since 2005 and recently agreed to be their temporary public relations director.  In the last year, a lot of the calls coming to Polaris Project Japan were concerning Japanese teenage women who appeared to have been forced into the sex industry–not foreign women.  It does seem that the Japanese government has been enforcing the anti-human trafficking laws to the point where there are significantly fewer non-Japanese women being made sex-slaves. However, it seems they have been replaced by young Japanese teenage girls, many of them runaways or abused children. 

Polaris Project Japan had the brilliant idea of reaching out directly to these girls by making a mobile-phone web-site aimed at them, that was user friendly, and could offer some good advice.  Young schoolgirls don’t read newspapers, don’t watch as much television as they did, and most of their communications is over cell-phones and social networking sites. Unfortunately, such sites have also becoming prime hunting grounds for pimps, low-life yakuza, and pedophiles who seek out fresh meat to use themselves or sell to others. 

 

A mobile phone web-site aimed at helping Japanese teenage victims
A mobile phone web-site aimed at helping Japanese teenage victims

NHK, Japan’s answer to the BBC gave the website some good coverage this morning. 

The contents of the consultations that Polaris Project Japan and their partner organization Yukon have gotten are quite unpleasant. 

 

● From Host Club Patron To Forced Prostitution 

   A male Host asked a young victim come visit his club without worrying about money. After his begging continued, she went to the club a few times. Then, a different man from the club asked her for a few hundred thousand yen (a few thousand dollars) for the food and drinks she had consumed. She received threatening phone calls and was even ambushed at her own home. The men kept pressuring the girl to pay the bill, coercing her to go and work in the sex industry. Around that time, she was put in touch with Polaris, and after consulting with the police, she is safe once again.  

Note: I covered incidents like this one as far back as 2000, when I was still a police reporter assigned to the 4th district. It’s a classic technique that yakuza or general low-lives use to force young women into the sex trade.  Host clubs seems to be the equivalent of trafficking recruitment centers in many parts of Japan. 

 

● A 14-year-old farmed out as a prostitute by her classmates

 Her friends told her that she had a bad attitude, and forced her to apologize by paying money earned from prostitution. A few months later, through some website, she was introduced to a customer, and forced into prostitution. It had already been taken up as a case as a juvenile victim when she contacted this organization. She says, “I’m out of the situation, but I have nowhere to go. I always feel depressed.I let myself get picked up for casual sex, abuse my body, and start crying for no reason.” Polaris Project Japan provides  her regular counseling and the support she needs. 

  Anyway, these are some of the cases that have come up in the last year, there probably are a lot more.  Below is the press release for the web-site. The press conference was held April 1st (Japan time)  at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan. 

 

 

 


Polaris Project Japan Launches a New Mobile Website:

To help victims of child/teen prostitution

and child pornography and prevent further exploitation

 

The Polaris Project Japan (PPJ) is the Japanese branch of Polaris Project in Washington DC.  PPJ has been operating a hot-line for human trafficking victims for several years In the last year, PPJ has been receiving more and more calls not just from the traditional human trafficking victims–foreign women ensnared in the sex industry–but Japanese teenage girls who have been lured or forced into the sex industry and can’t get out, and sometimes even been asked by their own parents to work in the industry to make money for their family members. 

 

Contrary to the popular picture of Japanese teenage prostitutes as clueless teenagers who just want to earn money to buy a designer bag–many of the girls now in the industry are there because of financial necessity and a lack of support for abused girls and boys who run away from home. 

Many of these victims are recruited over the internet and or/are sold over social networking sites by their pimps–like commodities. 

The National Police Agency reported in 2008 internet Profile sites and Social networking sites are the hotbeds of child sex crimes, surpassing the net dating sites (which were originally the hub of sex trafficking).

 

It is hard to measure the extent of the problem because no Japanese government agency has attempted a comprehensive survey, and the laws protecting children are administrated by many different government agencies and ministries that do not share information or work together.

 

To provide an effective and systematical intervention to prevent sexual exploitation of adolescents and help victims, Polaris Project is launching a website:

¨       To provide an environment to seek counseling in a safe and anonymous way.

¨       To give information to questions like “What happens if….”, rather than sending simple “Stop” or “Danger” signs.

¨       To eliminate the embarrassment and fear of seeking counseling face to face by allowing contacts via website and phone.

¨       To inform the victims of additional channels of help available.

 

Polaris Project will also be working with The Children’s Human Rights Committee of the Japan Lawyer’s Association, Prefectural Women’s Centers, and Children’s Shelters to make sure that the children calling receive the best care and advice possible. It will also advertise on sites popular with Japanese youth to make sure the message reaches those who are most vulnerable.


About Polaris Project
Polaris Project is a non-profit organization that combats human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children. It was established in 2002 in Washington D.C., USA. In 2004, the Japan office was launched in Tokyo. Our activities and projects include victim outreach, multi-lingual hotline, victim support, and workshops for public and government agencies in positions of direct contact with victims.

 

Suicides Using Toxic Fumes Soar in Japan

In the first chapters of Hanayagi Genshu’s book Nigetara Akan!, she outlines the problem of suicide in Japan shockingly clearly — one person every fifteen minutes dies by their own hand in Japan. This article? Just more proof of the problem.

From the New York Time Website

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

October 31, 2008 TOKYO (AP) — More than 870 people have killed themselves in Japan by inhaling toxic fumes from household chemicals this year, 30 times more than the total for all of last year, the government said Friday. Continue reading Suicides Using Toxic Fumes Soar in Japan

Tokyo Vice featured in South China Post Sunday Book Section

 

The stories Jake Adelstein wrote as a crime reporter for a Japanese newspaper have earned him and his family a death threat from one of the country’s most notorious and influential yakuza. Writing a book about crime and criminal culture in Japan is likely to have further enraged the Tokyo uderworld. Adelstein never planned it this way.  

Continue reading Tokyo Vice featured in South China Post Sunday Book Section