National / Crime & Legal

Two arrested over alleged Thai prostitution racket in Tokyo

Kyodo

A Thai woman and a Chinese female operator of a sex parlor in Tokyo have been arrested for allegedly arranging for another Thai woman overstaying in Japan to provide sexual services, police said Friday.

Onuma Phitchapha, 35, and Yu Xiaomei, the 43-year-old sex parlor operator, were among 26 people arrested in connection with the case. Of those, more than 10 were foreign women recruited in Thailand and elsewhere who were allegedly overstaying their visas.

Onuma is alleged to have referred the Thai woman, who is in her 20s, to Yu’s sex parlor in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward between February and March so she could work as a prostitute, the police said.

Police believe the suspects took advantage of Japan’s visa exemption program that began in 2013 for Thai tourists intending to stay in the country for short periods. Under the program, visitors are allowed to stay for 15 days.

Police suspect Onuma, a resident of Tokyo, had made similar arrangements for over 10 Thai women to work at multiple sex parlors in Tokyo since December.

After luring women in Thailand to come to Japan with the promise of free tours, Onuma and her purported accomplices are accused of forcing them to write IOUs for their travel expenses and provide sex services to pay the debt if they wanted to return home, according to the police.

Onuma, who is suspected of violating the law banning prostitution and the immigration law, has denied the allegations.

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