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Baseball, brothels and unwelcome photographs

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 1908

Japanese and the baseball game

(Please note: Some language in use 100 years ago may be considered offensive today. — Ed.)

San Francisco, July 11 — Mike Fisher is being deluged with letters from Japanese who are anxious to make the trip with all-American baseball stars to Japan next fall. One letter in particular, written by Tozan T. Masko of St. Louis,. Mo., who engineered the tour of the Jap team in the east last spring called the Mikado, will serve to show how the little brown men are taking to baseball invasion. Masko is one of the first ball players that Japan ever turned out, and he has been a fan ever since, acting as manager, umpire and promoter of baseball contests here as well as in the Orient. He has written Fisher asking for the position of interpreter and umpire.

He also inclosed a piece of stationery used by the Mikado Club which is rich as well as original. Here it is (edited, for brevity — Ed.).

“Mikado’s Japanese baseball team was organized in Japan during 1905 by Tozan T. Masko. Every Japanese player is full-blood Japanese. Not one of them can speak English. They do all their conversing and coaching in Japanese, and it is certainly the most Japanesy Japanese you ever listened to. There are in Japan 265 middle schools and thirty-five universities at which baseball is played. Mikado’s team is composed of the pick of the players from these institutions, and they have crossed the 4,000 miles of Pacific ocean in order to reach America for this tour.

“1. Under no circumstances will we throw a game. Leaving entirely out of consideration the moral aspect of the question, dishonesty with the public is bad business policy.

“2. Under no circumstances will we play for a smaller admission price than twenty-five cents. This must be paid by every one, both men and women. If a game is worth seeing it is worth paying for.

“3. We positively will not admit free of charge the relatives of friends of ball players, managers, magnates, stockholders or officers. We are not running a charitable institution.

“4. We positively will not admit at any stage of the game children who are unaccompanied by their parents. Children must be pretty small to get by our ticket taker.

“7. We carry our own tickets for both gate and grandstand. We sell and you take. When you are ready to settle count the tickets you have taken in, figure your share of the receipts and we pay you instantly.

“8. We always reserve the right to use two umpires, one of whom will be furnished by us.

“10. We are willing to furnish you all the free advertising matter you can use to advantage. But don’t expect us to pay for putting it up. You ought to have enough to look after that yourself.

“11. Settlement must be made for each game as it is played. We positively will not wait until the end of the series.”

50 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Sept. 27, 1958

Sex crimes mounting with ban on brothels

Japan’s outlawing of brothels on April 1 has given rise to two expected headaches — the growth of undercover prostitution and mounting sexual crimes.

According to the Police Agency, most of the registered brothel operators, totaling some 50,000 in the country on April 1, have switched to new businesses — hotels, restaurants, tea parlors, cafes, bars and cabarets.

Only a small number have succeeded in more sedate work as barbering, chicken farming, fishing, scrap collecting and operating student boarding houses.

Figures for brothel operators vary widely because many closed down their houses too fast for adequate recording during or after the one-year grace period before the law was enforced and those in the border-line or “semi-red light districts” were often not counted.

However, many former brothel operators have been increasingly reverting to their old professions in camouflaged forms. They complained of difficulties in gaining a living in new trades due to lack of experiences.

They have been opening hotel or drinking and eating establishments of dubious character where former prostitutes can easily solicit customers.

In three months since April 1, 135 cases of violation of the new law at such places were listed in Tokyo alone. The situation was similar in Kyoto, Fukuoka, Chiba, Nagano, Shizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures.

Increasingly clever and complex methods of utilizing the loopholes in the law or fooling the police are being adopted. The Western-style call-girl system is now quite popular in urban areas. Gangsterism naturally quite frequently goes hand in hand with such secret operations.

As of the prostitutes themselves, about half the estimated total of 158,000 have simply “disappeared” from police eyes by officially reporting they had “gone home.”

(The number of women in full-fledged houses was estimated at 55,000 and the gross total of those working in all houses of prostitution registered or not, at some 158,000.)

A large majority are apparently back at their original trade at the so-called “hotels” and “bars” of their former employers. Those taking to the streets themselves are naturally “protected” by hoodlums who sometimes blackmail the girls’ customers.

Although still in the minority, some former prostitutes have made news by their unusually successful rehabilitation in new honest occupations or in marriages. A team of 15 such women are now gaining popularity as tourist guides at Nagaoka, on the Izu Peninsula. One woman in Tochigi Prefecture is now a junior high school teacher while another is making a tidy sum as a florist in Kochi.

But the over-all picture is growing darker. As of the end of July, the Police Agency counted 6,828 cases of violation of the law in the country. All police forces were ordered to be on the alert against a further increase, especially cases involving gangsters.

More than 9 percent of prostitutes arrested so far had venereal diseases, posing a serious national health problem. Juvenile victims of such diseases are on the rise, it is noted.

Sexual crimes, naturally expected to rise following the outlawing of prostitution, have shot up surprisingly. In Tokyo alone, there have been 265 known cases between April and August. This is more than double the 118 for the corresponding 1957 period.

25 YEARS AGO

Sunday, Sept. 11, 1983
Getting Things Done
Camera shy

By JEAN PEARCE

A woman wonders if there is any legal action she can take to prevent people from taking her picture against her will. She does not care to appear in Japanese photo albums like some species of wild game, and she is distressed at the photos she sees in magazines, often with crude and suggestive captions, of foreign women who were unaware their photos were being taken, and of the ads that occasionally put the head of a foreign woman on some stock soft-porn picture. As an example of this type of exploitation, she mentioned a sports magazine that had a photo spread of Chris Evert Lloyd and Bjorn Borg playing tennis in Japan. All the photos were of breast, behind, crotch and legs. “Surely there must be some legal recourse against such despicable actions,” she concludes.

I think she knows that there is not. Even in cases where there is obvious infringement of rights and privacy, court settlements are unsatisfactory, and the apology is often rather smug. Look at the ads in subways. One leading department store in its ads directed to women uses models in a range of suggestive poses. That shows where the consciousness level is in this country. About all she can do is hold up her hand, palm outward, in front of her face, move it rapidly from left to right, and say “Daikirai!” (I don’t like) loudly and firmly. That will discourage the photographer, and all those around him/her who planned to snap the next picture. This will be more effective than her present inclination (“to break both the nose and the camera of those people who so rudely intrude on my privacy”). She would be considereed at fault if she did. The Japanese have little sense of privacy in the Western concept. The “Daikirai!” will be well understood in areas where they are sensitive — by having attention called to them, by doing something that is obviously unpleasant to another (whatever it is).

(Sentimental visitors, noting how nice and polite the Japanese are, may feel affronted at such a suggestion, but many women here suffer from a variety of subtle harassments in addition to the execrable “chikan” who take advantage of crowded subways for tactile explorations. Living in a country is a different experience from visiting it, and complaints about the inevitable, even though only occasional, unpleasant experiences should not prompt the common response, “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you go home?”)

In this new feature, which appears in TimeOut on the third Sunday of each month along with our regular Week 3 stories, we delve into The Japan Times’ 112-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past.