Nightclub hostess world still seen as one where profit trumps visas, safety

by William Hollingworth

Kyodo

Dangers still lurk for foreign women who work as hostesses in Japan’s nightlife districts, despite claims of better regulation in the wake of the Lucie Blackman slaying, according to an international security consultant who recently investigated the nightclub scene.

The consultant, Dai Davies, found that bars in Tokyo still employ young foreign women without proper working visas, as in Blackman’s case, leaving them less likely to complain to police if assaulted by clients because they are working illegally.

Davies aided undercover Welsh TV reporter Sian Morgan, who was making a documentary posing as a British hostess without a working visa.

He said some of the bars were nothing more than “brothels.” Making money was paramount to the bar owners, with the women given little or no protection and encouraged to date strangers, he said.

Davies, who advised Blackman’s mother, Jane Steare, after the young woman’s 2000 slaying, is calling for regular inspections of hostess bars. “My advice to any foreign girl thinking about becoming a hostess is: ‘Don’t even go there.’ Things are no better than when Lucie Blackman was working in Tokyo,” he said.

“I’m shocked that despite assurances that things are better, there was a complete noninspection of many of these establishments which were bypassing the law. Many men were willing to break the law and pimp our reporter,” Davies added.

In S4C’s “Y Byd ar Bedwar” (“The World on Four”) program, Morgan tries to find work as a hostess and films her encounters using hidden cameras.

Morgan, who wore a blonde wig to boost her chances of finding work, was initially turned down by several bars because she only had a three-month tourist visa.

However, she eventually landed a hostess job at a bar, where she was told to change her name. Davies then went in masquerading as a client and was told by the woman managing the hostesses that he could go on a date with Morgan, even though it was his first visit to the club. Morgan was also offered work at two other bars that were fully aware of her visa status. Hostess bars regularly deny that hostesses engage in prostitution. Nonetheless, Morgan was told she could make much more money by having sex with the clients.

Blackman vanished in summer 2000 after going on a date with a client she met in a Tokyo hostess bar. She was later found dead. Tokyo businessman Joji Obara, a convicted serial rapist and killer, was recently cleared of her murder.