Schoolgirl Prostitution in Japan

Reasons for the recent upsurge in the number of schoolgirl prostitutes

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2005

112 Pages


Table Of Contents


What Is Enjo-kōsai?
How Has Enjo-kōsai been translated into English?
When Did Enjo-kōsai become an Issue?
Is Enjo-kōsai a Social/Moral or a Health Issue?
1) Enjo-kōsai as a Social/Moral Issue
2) Enjo-kōsai as a Health Issue’
Prevalence of Enjo-kōsai
Data on Enjo-kōsai
Who Has Commented on Enjo-kōsai?
Policy Responses to Enjo-kōsai


Effects of Pornography
1. Addiction
2. Escalation
3. Desensitization
4. Acting Out Sexually

Women’s Role in Japanese Society

The Role of the Internet and Mobile Telephones




Prostitution is known as the worlds’ oldest profession and dates back to Sumerian times. “World wide an estimated 300 million women regularly have sex with 5 to 10 partners during a typical “working “ day (International Labour Organization, 1998, quoted in Rhawn,2004, 154). Throughout history men in positions of power, or those in the public eye have kept mistresses or have had dealings with prostitutes, from Presidents Carter, Jefferson, and Kennedy of the USA, to Mitterrand of France, Mussolini of Italy, and Prince Charles of Great Britain. Great writers such as Charles Dickens have also been guilty of keeping a mistress. So why should the phenomenon of enjo-kōsai in Japan be a matter for concern and public outcry? Enjo-kōsai has been translated as ‘schoolgirl prostitution’ and in this paper I intend to answer the above question and to illustrate that it does indeed warrant public outcry as it involves, in many cases, sex between adult males and adolescent girls, sometimes as young as 13.

(Rhawn, 2004, 156) cites the estimates from the International Labour Organization of the number of young Japanese women engaged in prostitution in Japan in the 1998 as 100,000. These figures are worrying for if true, they mean that the numbers of reported patients with HIV/ AIDS is only the tip of the iceberg and could be substantially higher.

Having established that prostitution has been with us since virtually the beginning of time and will probably remain to be so for at least the foreseeable future I shall try to show the reasons for enjo-kōsai in Japan and to illustrate that the reasons are indeed different from that of third world countries where many young girls are forced into becoming prostitutes in order to support their families. In other words, if they did not resort to prostitution they and their families would certainly perish. In Japan this is not the case, as it is a first world country with the 2nd largest economy in the world, after the USA, with the majority of its population regarding themselves as middle class citizens.

Enjo-kōsai is a peculiar form of prostitution, which can have dire consequences if not kept in check. I will try to show some of the reasons for, outcomes of, and solutions to this problem.

According to (Wikipedia, 2004, 1), “People who prefer sex with pre-teen children to sex with teenagers or adults are Paedophiles. Adult people who prefer sex with teenagers are Ephebophiles. Many customers of teenage child prostitutes are actually neither; they just like to abuse the victims because they are often cheaper to have and offer less resistance to perverted sexual practices.”

I aim to show in this paper how in Japan young girls have become the object of male sexual desire simply because of the fact that they are cheaper and offer less resistance to perverted sexual practices, and because teenage girls have featured more and more frequently in pornographic material and have been portrayed in the media as sexual objects and this has heightened the male desire to have intercourse with them. Of course, other contributing factors must also be accounted for when considering the problem of enjo-kōsai and I will discuss what I consider to be the main ones in this paper. Due to restrictions on the length of the paper, I cannot mention all the reasons and can only touch upon others. For obvious reasons it was impossible for me to do much practical groundwork during the gathering of information for this paper as most middle aged men are reluctant, at best, to talk about their sexual desires or exploits, especially if said desires/exploits involve young girls and are now deemed to be illegal. Also, because of legal grounds it was difficult for me to approach girls under a certain age and question them on their sexual practices. Therefore most of my research for this paper has been through reading literature on the subject matter and from downloading the dearth of discourse that can be found on the Internet. Also, I have read a number of books on the history of women in Japan in an attempt to try to discover if there is any correlation between the way women have been treated historically in Japan and the way the girls involved in enjo-kōsai are portrayed today. I will argue that the reasons for the increase in the number of incidences involving sex with minors in Japan are complex and multi-faceted.

In chapter one, I will ask the question, “What is enjo-kōsai?” and try to answer it. Enjo-kōsai has been translated into English as ‘compensated dating’ or ‘teenage prostitution’, among others. I will give reasons for the translation that I find to be most suitable. From there, I will give reasons, citing results of a survey, as to why girls sell their time and their bodies. I will mention when enjo-kōsai became an issue and discuss whether it is considered to be a social/moral, or a health problem, or indeed both. Lastly, I will talk about the prevalence of enjo-kōsai, available data on the problem, mention the individuals, groups and organizations that have commented on it, and discuss policy responses to it.

In the second chapter I intend to discuss in greater detail the social, moral and medical implications of enjo-kōsai. I will also mention the part that the family and education have played in helping to create this problem. Lastly, I will mention how the collapse of the ‘bubble economy ’in Japan has helped nurture the phenomenon. I will make use of government statistics and other data in this chapter to help illustrate the correlation between the economic downturn and the rising trend in juvenile crime.

In the third chapter I should like to deal with the question of whether or not exposure to pornographic material has any relevance to the number of sexually related crimes and indeed if the type of pornography witnessed is directly related to the type of crime committed. In the case of enjo-kōsai can it be said that men are turning to young girls for sex simply because they see girls dressed in schoolgirl’s uniforms having sex in adult videos and in pornographic magazines, seemingly enjoying it? I will show that Japan, long famed for its technological advances and high quality exports has been guilty of being a world leader in exporting a more sinister product: namely child pornography. I will show how pornography has an effect on both children and adults, and that in Japan the pornographic industry is a multi-million dollar business which has desensitized the public - due to their almost constant exposure to it - to the crime that is enjo-kōsai.

In chapter four I will write about women’s roles in Japanese society. I will argue that women are still viewed in many instances as second- class citizens, but that they are in fact more traveled and worldly-wise than their male contemporaries, and that this has led to problems between the sexes as the men are becoming more and more threatened by what they perceive to be increasingly domineering women. Traditionally, in Japanese society, the men were expected to be the more dominant in the relationship. Problems also arise in society because women are still expected to quit their jobs after becoming pregnant, and they are paid lower salaries than men whilst doing the same jobs. The ongoing changes between the sexes in Japanese society have left the men at a disadvantage. While they worked hard during the 1980s, the females traveled – because they were not considered an integral part of the workforce - and widened their horizons, becoming, in the process, more cosmopolitan. A situation has arisen whereby many Japanese men have come to feel uncomfortable with women of a similar age and have turned their attentions on younger girls who are less threatening as they have no experience of life outside of Japan. Now many young girls, according to their own statements, look upon prostitution merely as a way of making money to enable them to have greater purchasing power and subsequently, the right social standing. I will show that the monetary benefits to be made from enjo-kōsai far outweigh anything that a young girl could ever hope to earn doing any other kind of work. For example, some girls can earn as much as 350,000yen or $3500 for having sex and pretending to sell their virginity. To earn this amount of money, a girl would ordinarily have to work for 350 hours, at an earnings rate of 1000yen or $10 per hour, which is still considered a good salary in Japan. The pressure on a child to have sex simply because they can make so much money at one time is enormous, and this earning potential plays a pivotal role in persuading the child to take the bait and succumb to life as a prostitute. Lastly, I will examine the kind of girls who take part in enjo-kōsai, and try to find out what their motivation is. I will also show that they do not necessarily see themselves as prostitutes; or consider what they do as being morally wrong. I will answer the question of whether they or society is at fault for what they have become.

In chapter five I shall discuss the role that the Internet and mobile phones have played in enjo-kōsai, as well as the role of the mass media. I will illustrate how the increase in the number of mobile phone ownership is directly proportional to the increase in the number of girls involved in enjo-kōsai as well as other crimes committed by juveniles. Also, I will argue that Japan, as a consumer oriented society, has influenced this increase by brainwashing the youth, through the media, into believing that they must have the latest product on the market or lose face with their friends. In this chapter I will also discuss the role the media has played in sensationalizing compensated dating and therefore helping to make it trendy or cool.

In my conclusion I shall try to show how all the above factors enter into the equation when discussing the reasons why enjo-kōsai became an issue in Japan in the 1990s, and I will discuss whether or not the problem of enjo-kōsai has been dealt with adequately by government ministers, media and public. I will discuss the limitations of my work and bring to attention any unresolved problems. As I have previously stated, it has been difficult to do any fieldwork for this paper, and I have instead had to rely on the myriad of statistics and surveys conducted on the problem. These obviously can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the writer’s outlook, but I hope to be able to convince the reader by providing other evidence, that my conclusions are not without foundation.

What Is Enjo-kōsai ?

Enjo-kōsai is the term used to describe a date between a schoolgirl of junior or senior high school age and more recently, even of elementary school age, with an adult, often middle-aged man. The schoolgirl receives a monetary payment for her time and anything else she happens to part with, for example: her underwear, socks and other such garments. In Japan there is a huge market value placed on such items; the more times the girl has spent wearing them, the greater the odour, and subsequently the greater the amount of money she can expect to receive. “When the panty-specialist Ikeda Kunihiro opened his second-hand undergarment boutique, there was a stampede. Customers were banging down the door, phones rang off the hook, and bulk orders flooded in. Ikeda hastily placed emergency ads in women’s magazines: ‘Boutique seeks used panties-minimum three-day usage a must.’ Within days, high school girls, secretaries, young housewives, and mature matriarchs wheeled in cartloads of panties to sell at $10 and up.” (Constantine, 1994, 192). Ikeda opened his store in 1992 and by 1993, had opened five. Constantine also writes that the highest prices paid were for the panties of pre-pubescent teens (this gives an indication of the way in which these very young girls were beginning to be viewed by adult males as objects of sexual fantasy). Also in 1993 vending machines appeared that catered to the obsession that many Japanese men had with soiled undergarments. There was no direct statute banning the trade but “after being met with public outcry, three traders were cunningly charged under the Antique Dealers Law, which requires dealers in second-hand goods to get permission from the local authority, and the panties disappeared from the streets.” (Herbert, 2004, 1).

It became difficult for some buyers to discern the authenticity of the panties, for they could never know for sure if the picture of the schoolgirl that often accompanied the soiled product was the actual wearer. (Numerous articles have been written claiming that girls have on occasion smeared their panties with yoghurt which when dried has the same appearance as vaginal discharge). This of course meant that the girls could supply as many pairs of panties as they could get their hands on and hence rake in a greater profit which was more advantageous to them both in a monetary sense as well as being healthier than wearing one pair of panties for 3-4 days at a time.

It therefore became more beneficial to meet the schoolgirl, go somewhere private such as a karaoke box, and have her personally remove and hand over the garment before the eyes of the purchaser. Schoolgirls could obviously demand even more money for having sexual intercourse with the customer, or for performing acts of fellatio, or simply for allowing the customer to fondle various body parts.

How Has Enjo-kōsai been translated into English?

Enjo-kōsai has been translated into English as ‘Compensated-Dating’ and as ‘Teenage Prostitution.’ Which of the two English translations is more accurate is a difficult question to answer as “one of the dilemmas for anthropology of global-local topics is that they ‘defy conventional practices of bounding and naming the cultural subject of study’” (Marcus, 1995, 425, quoted in Kelsky, 2001, 5). However, as I hope to demonstrate, in the case of enjo-kōsai, both terms can be used as they both accurately define what transpires. To reiterate, when the term ‘compensated-dating’ is used, we in the English-speaking world, imagine the scenario of a young girl being compensated (paid a sum of money or being presented with an expensive gift) to go on a date with an adult. Whether or not she consents to exchange any items of her clothing in return for money still could not be construed as prostitution. When considering the term ‘teenage prostitution’ we certainly entertain thoughts of both parties engaging in sexual intercourse in return for one of the two parties involved, or an outsider third party being paid a sum of money. The third party would invariably be a middleman of some description, for example a pimp, mafia member, owner of a telephone club or other such establishment. Telephone Clubs “are places where men pay to wait in a cubicle for a girl’s mobile phone number. Apart from that, all negotiations are between the schoolgirl and the dirty old man. The advent of the Internet however has made telephone clubs largely redundant,” (Herbert, 2004, 1). Girls can call the clubs for free and the telephone numbers are often advertised on free packets of tissue papers that are handed out to girls and women on the streets all over Japan.

The foreign media prefers to use the term ‘teenage prostitution’ when referring to enjo-kōsai as this invariably sensationalizes the headlines and sells more newspapers, and it is probably the more accurate of the two translations. I will argue the reasons why I believe this to be the case later in this chapter.

If credence can be given to what they say, not all schoolgirls who engage in enjo-kōsai engage in the act of full intercourse. Some girls report that they merely go to a restaurant with an older man and talk, whilst others say that they go for a drive, or to karaoke.

Mamoru Fukutomi, Psychologist Professor at Tokyo Gakugei University, conducted a survey of 960 randomly chosen high school girls in October of 1997. Of these 960 girls, 600 or 63% responded to the survey. Only 30 girls or 5% of the 600 admitted to taking part in enjo-kōsai. “ Of these 30 girls only 2.3% claimed to have had sexual intercourse, 2.3% said they had engaged in sexual activities other than sexual intercourse (for example, kissing or oral sex) and 4.8% said they had merely talked or had drinks.”(Asahi News, 1998, 1).

As the following chart shows, “as reasons they gave for selling their time and their bodies to older men, 13 girls said they wanted money, 4 did it because a man suggested it, 3 girls thought it caused no problems with anyone else, 3 did it for fun, and 2 did it because they knew they could quit at anytime. One girl said she wanted stimulation, another was lonely, another just let it happen without much thought, while another said she needed to blow off some steam and another girl wanted to have sex. In the survey, the respondents were allowed to give multiple answers.” (AsahiNews, 1998, 1).


illustration not visible in this excerpt

The overwhelming reason cited for engaging in enjo-kōsai is for monetary gain. I shall argue later that there is a tremendous pressure placed upon teenagers in Japan and especially, teenage girls, to own the proper brand named product, and it is this pressure, coupled with the financial rewards obtained from enjo-kōsai that ultimately entices them into doing it.

Enjo-kōsai practitioners can be categorized into three groups, namely: those who engage in full sexual intercourse or ‘teenage prostitutes’; those who engage in some form of sexual activity other than intercourse; and those who take part in what we in the West would consider to be a true form of dating service or ‘compensated dating.’ The above survey seems to suggest that the number of girls who had engaged in enjo-kōsai and had had sex and those who had engaged in enjo-kōsai and had engaged in activities of a sexual nature, but not actual intercourse are split evenly. Lastly, those who had merely been paid for talking or drinking with a man are again roughly half of the previous groups when combined. So enjo-kōsai seems to encompass three distinct patterns of behaviour. However, in this essay, I would like the reader to consider the term enjo-kōsai as ‘teenage prostitution’ for the following reasons:

Firstly, although not every girl who engages in enjo-kōsai actually resorts to having sex for money; the likelihood that they will eventually succumb to allowing their bodies to be abused is high. This is so, because the financial benefits to be obtained from having intercourse are substantially higher than those of simply dating, which mean that the girl has increased spending power, which in turn leads to her having a higher status among her group of friends. For example, “Aya, now 15, says she started letting men touch her breasts two years ago for $100. Last October (1995), she says she turned her first trick, with a man who approached her and a girlfriend on a Tokyo street and paid them about $500 apiece to have sex with him. She began commuting regularly from her suburban home to ply her body, lured by the cash that she spent on restaurants, miniskirts, and trips to Tokyo Disneyland.” (Wall Street Journal, 1996, October 2, quoted in Reitman, 1996,1).

“My pussy is worth $600. Now that is pretty flattering.” (Yamada, 1998, 1, quoted in Fujiwara, 1998,1). These are only two examples but they help to illustrate the differences in the amounts of money that can be made for engaging in full sexual intercourse and for engaging in other acts of a sexual nature but without penetration.

Secondly, girls initially may only want to go for a meal or a drink and to be compensated for it. After a while there is the tendency for them to become more confident and for a higher price, they will be willing to sell their underwear, or let the men touch parts of their bodies. Once they lose the feelings of revulsion at this secondary phase they will engage in full intercourse with the adult. The initial thought of having sex for money with a complete stranger, which had once seemed such an alien thought and an impossible act to perform is now only a small leap from having been groped, or of performing oral sex. Indeed, as (Cline, 2004, 4) argues, “The sexual activity depicted in pornography (no matter how antisocial or deviant) became legitimized. There increasingly was a sense that ‘everybody does it’ and this gave them permission to also do it, even though the activity was possibly illegal and contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal standards.” Cline was of course referring to a study he did on the effects of material found in pornographic publications, and in the above quote specifically,on the desensitization that took place after being exposed to it. I merely wish to point out the fact that desensitization is not only common to exposure to pornography, but also to many other aspects in life, and to suggest that the girls involved in enjo-kōsai over the course of time, gradually become desensitized to what had once disgusted them. Before becoming involved they might have disagreed with the idea of enjo-kōsai on moral grounds, but gradually they come to regard it as nothing more than a means of making money. Also, because they come to associate with other girls who are actively engaged in enjo-kōsai, and see less and less of other friends, they naturally come to regard what they do as being completely normal.

Again, according to the survey conducted by Fukutomi, who “asked how they felt after dating middle-aged men: nine said they regretted it, another nine answered that they were disgusted with the men, six worried about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, five felt they could not tell anyone about it, four felt bad for their parents, two thought about doing it again, one felt she could never go back to living a normal life and one felt nothing of it.” (Asahi Newspaper, 1998, 1).

The girls were allowed to give multiple answers in this survey, and if their answers are to be believed, we are apt to assume that most of them would be very unlikely to engage in the act again. However, as I have tried to argue, initial feelings of disgust give way in time to stronger feelings that the girls may have to obtain money quickly to enable them to buy something, or to try again with somebody different to see if the first experience was really so awful. If they do decide to experience prostitution a second time, the third, fourth and subsequent times become easier and leave them feeling less disgusted. Over a period of time there is the tendency to become addicted to the financial rewards. These girls can be likened to gamblers who slowly become hooked on what they do; only these girls are risking their lives for the chance to make some money to buy brand goods.

When Did Enjo-kōsai become an Issue?

The phenomenon of Enjo-kōsai“emerged towards the end of Japan’s 1980s economic boom.” (Herbert, 2004, 1), although (Morrison, 3, quoted in Nguyen, 2004, 1) writes, “The number of teenage prostitutes began to climb around 1974. By 1984 the number reached alarming levels and is still increasing.” The author does not define what he means by ‘alarming levels’ but in the same article he informs the reader that “National Police Agency statistics for 1995 show that 5,841 female minors were involved in telephone club liaisons or other sex-related activities.” According to the article, this figure is an increase of 16.2% from the previous year. If these figures are correct, then the levels are indeed worrying, not only to the young girls involved, but to society in general as they indicate that although media hype focusing on enjo-kōsai has diminished, the phenomenon has not disappeared, but instead is becoming more uncontrollable.

The exact origins of enjo-kōsai may be difficult to ascertain, but the media began covering it in the early to mid 1990s. As (Herbert, 2004, 2), writes, “It was not until the mid 90s that enjo-kōsai was recognized by the Japanese press and they compensated for this sluggishness with an amazing bout of hysteria.” After the collapse of the bubble economy, young girls could no longer depend on their parents to provide them with a source of income, and at the same time, in many instances, were prevented by their parents from being engaged in part-time employment whilst still at school. The arrival of telephone clubs gave these girls a place where they could go and wait to be contacted by middle-aged men who would call the club and request to speak to the girl. If the conversation went smoothly, the couple would agree upon a price the man would ultimately pay to recruit the services of the girl as his date for a particular evening, hence the term ‘compensated dating’. This arrangement suited men who were on the prowl for young girls, as it meant that they did not have to hang around outside schools or other places where young girls often congregated; this would be liable to draw the attention of the police, teachers, or other adults in the community. Although the men had to pay for the services, they were assured of ultimately meeting and going out with a young girl without the fear of being ridiculed in public. It also meant that the hitherto penniless teenage girls with no prior source of income could now gain far more money in one or two hours than they previously would have been able to make in an entire week, and in many instances, an entire year! “According to research conducted by Mizuho Bank: Tokyo elementary school students receive around 666 yen ($6) allowance per month in average,” (Japan Today, 2005, 1), while the same article reports one girl as saying that girls can earn 50,000 yen ($500) for having sex one time or if they tell the client that they are still a virgin they can expect to receive as much as 200,000 yen ($2000) for sex.

The arithmetic here is startling. It would take a young girl roughly 28 YEARS to make as much money through receiving an allowance as it would to have sexual intercourse just one time. This obviously provides them with a tremendous incentive to fall into prostitution, as it is one of only a limited number of ways whereby they can secure enough money to purchase the products they perceive as being essential in enabling them to be normal members of society. The media and consumer industries in Japan are extremely powerful and they play a sinister role here in persuading these girls that they must have the right look to fit in. “Teens express themselves in their clothing and gear, and commune with or diverge from each other along trend and fashion lines. In Japan, consumer industries and the media are especially aware of this marketing secret and provide the child not just with directions and opportunities to buy, but also directly market teen communication and acceptability.” (White, 1993, 103). In a junior high or high school environment, if some girls are on the game, and earn enough money to be able to afford the right clothes, this will ultimately have a domino effect, encouraging or forcing (due to peer pressure) other girls within the school to earn enough money to do likewise.

Is Enjo-kōsai a Social/Moral or a Health Issue?

1) Enjo-kōsai as a Social/Moral Issue

Enjo-kōsai has primarily been defined as a social issue caused by a number of different problems, which, when combined, create an environment conducive to this phenomenon: the collapse of the bubble economy, lack of proper sex education at home and in schools, the introduction of mobile telephones and personal computers, the mass media, the role of the female in Japanese society, and, as I have just mentioned, the pressure of consumerism on young schoolgirls are all contributing factors which must be looked at individually and I shall examine these issues in a later chapter. However, in a number of cases, a lack of moral values has been cited as the main contributory factor in creating the problem and in a keynote speech at the Second World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children in Yokohama, Japan, the Minister of Justice Ms. Moriyama blamed the lack of morals and also gave her definition of enjo-kōsai when she said:

“Japan, for one, has been worried about the worsening situation of commercial sexual exploitation of children in the midst of the diversification and globalization of society. For example, we Japanese have a Japanese word enjo-kōsai, which is symbolic of the lack of ethics and morals in Japanese society. This is a word invented by the mass media which means ‘compensated dating’, that is, a child offers sexual intercourse in return for pecuniary benefits such as money, and this word has the effect of weakening the impression of the immoral or anti-social nature of the act of prostitution. The dissemination of this word enjo-kōsai clearly shows the expansion of the ‘merchandising of sex with a child.’ Also, there is the deplorable tendency of the media to treat it as a kind of fashion.” (Moriyama, 1996, 2).

In this excerpt from the speech, Moriyama clearly believes that the term ‘compensated dating’ does not comprehensibly illustrate the gravity of the problem. To a young mind the idea of going on a date and being paid to do so, does not appear to be wrong or immoral, and this is the idea evoked by the words ‘compensated dating’. However, the term ‘teenage prostitution’ evokes an image of an altogether much sleazier picture, which could have, if used, had a deterring effect on the teenagers and prevented some young girls from taking part in prostitution. This is so, because, as countless surveys have illustrated, many girls initially believe they are being compensated for going on a date. This is often the case in the beginning, but as I have tried to demonstrate, over the course of time, the girls are gradually lured into acts of a more deviant nature. If, on the other hand, young girls were made aware at the outset that what they were getting involved in was an act of prostitution, and that it was not only morally wrong, but it could also prevent them from becoming mothers, and in severe instances kill them (this could be achieved through proper sex education in schools and at home), they would certainly be more reluctant to become involved.

2) Enjo-kōsai as a Health Issue’

So although enko-kōsai has primarily been defined as a social/moral issue, there are a growing number of doctors who believe that it is certainly a health issue which should be taken more seriously. Because girls who engage in enjo-kōsai are becoming younger and younger, they tend to be less aware of the implications or outcomes of their actions. According to a large number of reports, a high percentage of the girls who have sexual intercourse during enjo-kōsai do not engage in safe sex, nor do the men they go to bed with. Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association, on the final day of a symposium on HIV/AIDS held at the United Nations University in Tokyo stated that “Japan is one of the few developed nations where both the rate of teenage abortions and the number of people infected by sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise” (Hasegawa, 2003, 1). The same report also quotes him as blaming “the situation primarily on the government, which seems to avoid the issue of sex as if it is afraid to ‘wake a sleeping child’.” Furthermore, according to Professor J Sean Curtis of the Japanese Red Cross University, the Ministry of Health and Labour released figures of a survey it conducted in 2002, showing that “cases of Chlamydia have nearly tripled in the last decade hitting 37,028 in 2000.” (Curtin, 2002, 1). Quoting from the same survey, he states that the number of women having abortions have risen by 80% since 1995. Other data shows that only teenagers are experiencing a rise in the number of abortions, and that the figures overall have declined since 1995. I will present these figures in the next chapter and show that they correspond to the increase in the numbers of teenagers involved in enjo-kōsai.

Taku Kato, director of an AIDS research team at the Ministry of Health stated that “there is a possibility that many more teenagers are carriers and are not reflected in the statistics” (National AIDS Clearinghouse, 1996, quoted in The Wall Street Journal,1). Kato here is referring to the number of teenagers infected with HIV, but do not as yet have the symptoms of full blown AIDS.

Kato believes that the number of cases of sexually transmitted infections reported to the authorities is too low. Tsuneo Akaeda, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Tokyo, also believes that the number of cases reported to the authorities is far fewer than the actual numbers of girls who are infected with a sexually transmitted infection, and he presumes this to be the case because the girls are afraid of their parents finding out about their sex lives (Matsubara, 2001, 1).

Finally, according to Masako Kihara, an AIDS expert and associate professor at Kyoto University “some 20 to 30% of Japanese 16 year olds have had sex, and nearly a quarter of these have had four or more partners. As a result, both HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections-such as Chlamydia - which can cause infertility and makes the infected person more vulnerable to HIV if they have sex with an HIV partner - are on the rise among young people. Of new HIV cases reported in 2003, at least 33% were with people under 29 years old.” (Reuters, 21 September, 2004).

All of the above quotes show a worrying trend, as it is generally accepted that the number of young people with a positive diagnosis of an STI is only the tip of the iceberg. Many STIs are asymptomatic, or the symptoms only show up later as the infection progresses. The number of women infected with an STI is very much higher than the number of men. Figures vary, but 1:3 is often cited in medical literature: one man is infected for every three women. The above data helps to reinforce the argument that enjo-kōsai is both a social/moral, and a health issue, and that the full effects of the phenomenon: both socially/morally, and from a health perspective, may not be fully known for some years to come.

Prevalence of Enjo-kōsai

There have been a number of surveys carried out by various groups on the prevalence of enjo-kōsai, and figures differ greatly between each one. According to a survey conducted by the National Police Agency in March 2003, the number of arrests made for child prostitution was 400, compared with 133 from the previous year. This is an increase of 300%, and - despite the recent lack of interest shown in enjo-kōsai from the media - shows that it is still a major problem which is worsening. The same survey reveals that the number of dating sites accessible from PCs increased from 884 in 2001 to 2038 in 2002; and that the number of dating sites accessible from I-mode cellular phones increased from 2,569 to 3,401 over the same period. These figures again indicate that the prevalence of enjo-kōsai is rising, as the increase in the number of dating sites corresponds directly to the increase in the number of girls involved in enjo-kōsai.


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Schoolgirl Prostitution in Japan
Reasons for the recent upsurge in the number of schoolgirl prostitutes
University of Sheffield
japanese Language and Society
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schoolgirl, prostitution, japan, reasons
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Gerry Mclellan (Author), 2005, Schoolgirl Prostitution in Japan, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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