Sex, Problems and solutions

Human trafficking in Japan


by Vanessa Charles


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Human trafficking in Japan was declared common in the early 1980s. Sex trafficking is especially related to the entertainment and tourism industries in Japan. It is difficult to calculate the extent of this trafficking because of underground activity, which often goes unreported.

It is estimated that this phenomenon involves between 100 and 150,000 women per year, for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Women forced into prostitution in Japan are mainly from Southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union, as they are affected by poverty.

Japan regularly promises to put an end to this human trafficking, without much success for the moment. The American Congress, the Council of Europe, as well as several international organizations regularly question the country on the subject, and conclude that the Japanese government employs insufficient measures to completely eradicate this plague.

The sex industry is part of these traffics

The new legislation adopted in 2005 to tighten the conditions for obtaining an "entertainment" visa has not succeeded in curbing trafficking. Easy to obtain, this "entertainment" visa is the entry point for thousands of prostitutes per year. For example, in the 1990s, more than 70,000 Filipinas entered Japan each year with such a visa, without anyone really knowing how many of them were actually working in the entertainment world...

One of the problems faced by the Japanese authorities in their fight against these traffics is the demand. Indeed, the sex industry has never been so successful in a country where prostitution has been forbidden for 50 years. As a proof, there are about 10 000 clubs or hostess bars in the archipelago and an incalculable number of girls are closely or remotely linked to the trade of paid love.

Influential men who turn a blind eye

Another obstacle to the eradication of the phenomenon is that a significant number of notables, members of parliament and law enforcement officers turn a blind eye to the trafficking.
In 2005, the police discovered 81 cases of human trafficking. Both analysts and human rights associations consider this result to be ridiculously low compared to the reality. It is to be hoped, for the sake of these thousands of women, that the fact that Japanese women are now being trafficked will force the authorities to really tackle the problem.

Solutions that don't work

The Japanese government agreed in 2002 to implement the protocol against human trafficking established by the 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, known as the "Palermo Convention. Despite this notable effort, Japan is designated by the United States as a Third 2 country, which states that the country does not fully adhere to anti-trafficking standards.


Today, despite the efforts of the Japanese country to eradicate human trafficking, these efforts still remain insufficient in the eyes of the world. Non-governmental organizations, such as the yakuza, are influential in the case of human trafficking, which remains prevalent in the country.

You may also be interested in : The book " Tokyo Vice" by Jake Adelstein

This autobiographical story gives us a glimpse of Japanese society: a country where respect for rules, appearances and decorum often take precedence over common sense; where, in the name of the law, it is preferable to arrest and then drive foreigners forced into sexual slavery out of the country rather than to attack the powerful yakuza organizations behind them.

Vanessa Charles

A (very) close friend of Cupid and a true lover of relationships of all kinds, I am the main editor of Give Me Date. I answer your questions about couples, sexuality and dating and I test dating sites to give you a subjective opinion on how to find love or meet new people.

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