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Japan Subculture Research Center

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2011 Revised adult entertainment laws: What changes?


Dec 12, 2010

On July 6 of this year, the Diet approved proposed revisions of Japanese law regarding “adult entertainment” establishments (風俗営業等の規制及び業務の適正化等に関する法律). The laws are periodically revised as police attempt to keep up with and keep control over the country’s ever-expanding adult entertainment venues. Information on the changes is slightly difficult to come upon, but this site reportedly has the low-down on what will be different.

The upcoming revisions will hit two types of businesses that have been identified as problems in recent years: gisou love hotels and deai-kissa. Gisou love hotels are establishments registered as hotel or ryokan that are effectively operating as love hotels. They include small spaces that don’t resemble love hotels but can be rented for short-term trysts much like this unfortunate punter did. This allows the gisou love hotel to dodge regulations that bind normal love hotels to certain districts, allowing them to set up shop near schools, residential neighborhoods and other areas. Easiest way to beat the competition is monopolise an area they can’t touch, right?

Deai kissa have been covered in past articles here, and are essentially “cafes” where people can go to select a stranger (if you’re a man) or wait to be selected by a stranger (if you’re a woman) for an activity the couple agrees upon in small meeting rooms inside the cafe. While the pretense is to meet someone for karaoke or a date, the business claims no responsibility about what happens outside of their premises, and they’re often used as vehicles for prostitution. They’ve most recently become an issue after a university student was murdered by a man she met at a cafe earlier this year.

While both gisou love hotels and deai kissa have trampled the grey line of adult entertainment laws, as of January 1, 2011, this will no longer be the case.

The revisions have redefined what a love hotel is in order to re-evaluate businesses and close many of the loop holes gisou love hotels have been taking advantage of. As of January 1, businesses that do one or more of the following may be classified as love hotels:

  • Are available for “rest” use
  • Have dining and lobby floor area that are less than legal standards set by capacity
  • Have an entryway or reception area that is hidden from the outside
  • Take payment through a machine or tube
  • Use signage to direct customers to rooms instead of staff guidance
  • Have installed a form of obstruction to prevent face-to-face interaction between customers and staff

The rules get complicated from there. For example, hotels that have signage to guide customers and obstructions so they may not come face-to-face with staff qualify as love hotels if payment for the room is made through a machine. If a hotel has very little restaurant or lobby space, displays “rest” prices, and has a reception that’s difficult to see, they must have a rotating or vibrating bed, a mirror in the room where people can observe themselves while lying down, “facilities that incite sexual curiosity” such as S&M goods or glass walls in the bathroom, and/or adult toys for sale in vending machines. Whew. Also, spaces which exist particularly to be rented at “rest” rates by members of the opposite sex fall under the love hotel article.

All new deai kissa will fall under the fuzoku laws. For existing cafes, any venue that facilitates a meeting by two members of the opposite sex who have never met for the purpose of having a sexual relationship will qualify, though it’s a mystery how a business would prove it one way or the other. This will effectively put all new and many existing deai kissa under the same jurisdiction as “brick and mortar” adult entertainment businesses (店舗型性風俗特殊営業), which prevents them from being run within 200 meters of particular government facilities, including schools and child welfare centers.

Some say that, under these restrictions, there are almost no entertainment district in which new businesses will be able to set up.

As a requirement, businesses must submit up-to-date blueprints or measurements of the entire premises together with their application. Other information that must be submitted includes:

  • Method of doing business
  • Map of the surrounding area (at least 200m)
  • A diagram of the entryway and lobby
  • Certificate of residence if the owner is a private individual
  • In the case of a company, the above for all executives as well as company registration

Police say they will only accept applications until January 31, with all businesses neglecting to register before that presumably being slowly shut down. Ultimately, the authorities get to determine what qualifies and what does not under such complex stipulations. Whether this results in loads of shutdown or loads of bribery (or both) remains to be seen, but expect a large shift in the love hotel landscape over the upcoming year.

Memo From Jake:  Every change in the law has interesting ripple effects. I can’t help but speculate on the effects this time around. There are now several “love hotel” funds–investment trusts that are involved in the love hotel industry. It’ll be interesting to see how the new laws will effect the value of those funds or whether it will have any effect at all. What puzzles me about the changes in the laws is why do the authorities even feel they are needed?  I can see that there are some problems with the Deaikai cafes, but other than that, is an abundance of love hotels bad for Japanese society? Many people using love hotels are couples who live with their parents, or have room-mates and want some privacy to fool around. They are also used by married couples with children that don’t have space in the house to really enjoy their marital bliss. For a nation concerned about a declining birth-rate, you’d think Japan would actually be encouraging love hotel construction. I know of at least one child that was probably conceived in a love hotel because her over-worked father had to sneak out of the office to rendezvous with his wife on her ovulation day, knowing that he’d be trapped at the office all night. Ahem.

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