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One of the pleasures of Gabriele Koch’s new book “Healing Labor: Japanese Sex Work in the Gendered Economy” is how its erudition is mixed with an anthropologist’s ear on the ground. Alongside interviews with adult women workers in Tokyo’s sex industry, it starts with an excerpt from a Japanese TV show recorded in 2006 that may leave you scratching your head.

On the show, a young female office worker asks candidates for the prime ministership of Japan — including then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe — if they think it immoral to work in the sex industry. Impeded from realizing her intended career goals at a monthly salary of ¥140,000, the woman says she is drawn to the autonomy and the possible earnings the sex industry offers.

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