Seems to be no stop to teen prostitution

By Geoff Botting
August 1, 2006

A teenage girl fiddles with her cell phone outside Uguisudani Station in Tokyo on a recent weekday afternoon. She stands out in this gritty neighborhood, with her brightly dyed blond hair, denim miniskirt, and blouse opened to reveal a cleavage.

In a few minutes, a man in his 30s arrives from the station, wearing glasses and looking as geeky as the girl looks garish. The two exchange a few words before heading to the nearest love hotel.

About an hour later, the couple emerges and momentarily parts ways. That's when a Friday reporter stops the girl to ask her what's she been doing. Turning tricks for money, perhaps?

She nods. Her name is Eri, she tells the magazine. She's 15 and has been living on the streets of Tokyo, namely in the youth mecca of Shibuya, since May.

As for her livelihood, she supports herself by dating and sleeping with men much older than herself, in a practice well-known in Japan called enjo kosai, which literally means "assisted dating."

Much has been written and discussed about this form of teenage prostitution. Even so, Friday decides to revisit the topic now that summer's here, when hundreds of teenage girls like Eri converge on Shibuya, not just to hang out but to camp out on the streets and make some quick cash in the process.

Eri says her decision to become a street kid was hardly a matter of choice.

"My mother is terribly violent," she says. "Once when I made dinner, she complained that there wasn't any soup and not enough vegetables, so she smashed my face on the corner of a garbage can."

She sleeps in coffee shops and love hotels, and meets with her johns outside Shibuya due to a public-morals crackdown in the district.

Yet even though the plight of girls like Eri has received a barrage of attention in recent years, it seems the enjo-kosai problem has gotten worse rather than better, Friday discovers.

"The ages of people doing it are always getting lower, with an increase in the number of junior-high schoolers," says a tout who has worked Shibuya's streets for years. "But what's more, there are a lot more regular girls . . . from good schools on the game."

That's the case with Sa-yaka. Like Eri, she's 15. Unlike Eri, she has a comfortable home to return to each night. Her motivation for regularly heading to Shibuya is purely materialistic.

"When I see something I like, I can't help myself -- I just buy it," she says. "I read magazines and see cute clothes and accessories, which are sold in Shibuya. You can't get them in the local places."

Sayaka recalls her first john, a guy in his 40s wearing a suit, who paid her 15,000 yen one night last year. They went to a karaoke booth, it started with fondling and then went a lot further.

"I was just happy to get money so easily," she says.

Such "easy" earnings, notes Friday, are plowed back into Shibuya's glittery shops and nightlife. In the process, the district becomes all the more attractive to teenage girls in need of quick cash.

The Japan Times

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2005 Asian Sex Gazette.
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