A panel set up by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department called Wednesday for tightening the regulations governing dating services offered by teenage schoolgirls, including the introduction of penalties, with the aim of protecting such minors from harm.
In response to a report compiled by the panel, the police will consider making a new ordinance or revising the existing one.
Such services, known as the JK business, with the acronym standing for joshi kosei (female high school students), involve activities such as accompanying male customers on walks, giving massages or sharing beds in rooms.
The services have drawn international criticism, with Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, U.N. special rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, urging the Japanese government in March to ban such practices, saying it could lead to the sexual exploitation of children.
Currently the police have no powers to conduct any on-site inspections because such businesses are not subject to the sex industry law. The report pointed out the need for new regulatory statutes to tackle the issue.
The report proposed that JK businesses be obliged to notify the Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission when they launch or close their businesses.
The panel said that attracting customers with girls aged 17 or younger and soliciting boys and girls as customers and employees should be prohibited.
In cases where operators and their employees do not comply with orders by regulators to improve their business practices, the panel called for penalties to be implemented.
According to a survey by Tokyo police covering 423 girls between 15 and 18 in March, some 10 percent of respondents said they knew someone involved in the JK business, while around half of them expected the number of high school girls joining such businesses to rise.
Tokyo police detected 174 locations providing JK business services within Tokyo as of January, up 42 from June last year.