• Kyodo

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Police have arrested five employees of a Tokyo hostess club who allegedly overcharged a customer and then detained him, demanding that he work to pay off the debt, the Metropolitan Police Department said on Tuesday.

The suspects worked for Club Cenote in Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward, Japan’s largest red light district. Police said they have recorded a string of complaints about overcharging and other problems at the club from patrons.

In this instance, staff allegedly demanded ¥510,000 from a 32-year-old male customer on Dec. 1 who fell asleep while drinking.

The man said he could not pay, whereupon the staff detained him and told him he would be touting for customers and cleaning the premises. They said he would remain in captivity until he paid off the debt, according to police.

The five were arrested on suspicion of violating Tokyo’s Overcharging Prevention Ordinance and Labor Standards Law.

Police say the suspects deny the allegation, arguing that the amount charged was not excessive.

The 32-year-old man was reportedly lured to the establishment by a tout offering service at a fixed price of ¥4,000. He entered in the early hours on Dec. 1, drank and fell asleep. When he woke up at around noon he was handed a ¥510,000 bill.

The group later forced him to take his belongings to the staff dormitory, where he was prevented from leaving. He managed to escape on the morning of Dec. 2 and left Tokyo for Shizuoka Prefecture, where he went to police a day later and asked for protection.

The club opened in July 2009, according to a website that solicits hostess recruits. The police said they had received complaints from 51 customers of the club so far, including allegations of overcharging.