Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective

Sex immigrants

Every year, the cremated remains of over 50 Thai women, prostitutes dead from AIDS, are shipped back to Thailand from Japan. 30,000 Thai women are living in Japan, of whom only 8,000 have legal visas.

Many of Japan’s illegal immigrants work in the ravenous, unregulated sex industry, which employs over 150,000 women, mainly from Thailand and the Philippines.

For many, this lifestyle is not a choice. Every year, hundreds of women are tricked into coming to Japan with promises of a good job and a comfortable life. When they arrive, they are handed over to the yakuza, who take their passports and force them to work in sex clubs. They live in cramped squalor, service up to 20 men a day, and have their earnings taken from them. Having entered Japan illegally, they cannot turn to the authorities for help.

In theory, these women are only working until they can pay off the cost of smuggling them into Japan. Starting at around US$25,000, this can easily be increased on a whim of her “owner”. Even if they eventually pay it, many girls find themselves turned over to the police and deported.

Japan was recently chastised by the UN for ignoring the problem. There are a number of reasons for this inactivity. Japanese society prefers to overlook embarrassing subjects, while yakuza ties in the government and police also make it more difficult to catch the human traffickers.

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