National / Crime & Legal

First bill targeting JK industry headed for Tokyo assembly

Kyodo

A first-in-the-nation ordinance targeting dating businesses that focus on teenage girls has been presented to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly’s steering committee .

The bill, which bans girls 17 or younger from the industry and allows dating businesses to be inspected by the police, was compiled by the Metropolitan Police Department and presented to the metro assembly on Wednesday. Deliberations will begin next week.

If passed, the ordinance will take force on July 1.

The ordinance would be the first in the country to specifically target the so-called “JK” industry. JK stands for joshi kosei (female high school students).

Aichi Prefecture put restrictions on such services in July 2015 by revising the juvenile protection ordinance.

JK businesses, however, have developed a variety of forms that do not necessarily lead to sexual contact, though such services are effectively provided as “unofficial” options in some cases anyway.

The bill categorizes JK business into five types, including “JK rifure” (JK reflexology), which refers to bed-sharing or massage services, and “JK sanpo” (JK walking dates). It obliges such businesses to report about their operations to the Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission.

The bill also requires companies to provide lists of employees’ names and ages, prohibits the recruitment of girls 17 or younger, and bans them from operating or advertising near schools and hospitals. It also prohibits bars from designating bathing suits or underwear as company uniforms.

The safety commission would be able to issue administrative guidance or suspend such businesses for violations. Business owners and employees who do not obey the orders could face up to a year in prison or a maximum fine of ¥1 million.

A panel set up by Metropolitan Police Department drafted a report last May calling for legislative restrictions on JK businesses, since they currently have no authority to conduct on-site inspections as such businesses are not subject to regulation under the adult  entertainment law.

From January 2012 to the end of 2016, Tokyo police found 32 JK outlets that were allegedly violating the Labor Standards Law by having girls 17 or younger engage in “dangerous operations.”

In one case, a shop manager tacitly approved a 17-year-old high school girl offering a sexual service to a male customer in a private room. In another case, a manager had a 17-year-old student have sex with a man in a karaoke room during a walking date.

According to a police survey of 42 girls between 15 and 17 who were taken into custody during raids, about half reported having provided sexual services called “unofficial options.”

The 42 girls worked for two outlets busted last year. Although both dealt in sexual services, only half of the girls reported knowledge of them.

Among the 42 girls, 12 said they felt it was “unavoidable” to have customer sex, depending on the circumstances, with eight saying they would agree to have sex if they could earn money from it.

“There are some cases in which girls are involved in such troubles as stalking and sex crimes,” said police official Yoko Kurata. “It is necessary for related institutions to implement measures so girls will not engage in such jobs thinking optimistically that it can’t be helped if it is for money.”