|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Naughty schoolgirls serve up 'espressos' to go at 'encounter cafes' 2008,05,15
AERA 5/19 By Ryann Connell
"Encounter cafes," manga shops where men and women -- or more likely, girls, can meet and satisfy their mutual needs are rapidly increasing across Japan, according to AERA (5/19).
The women's weekly visits a Nagoya "deai kissa," literally an "encounter cafe," where a man was arrested last month for breaking the law banning child pornography for allegedly performing indecent acts on a 16-year-old.
The reporter is there to see how the system works, discovering that membership for men costs a onetime fee of 5,000 yen and another 1,000 yen per visit, for which the entrant receives a membership card that can be in any name they like.
The cafe has a passageway with a room on each side.
"This one is for 18s and over, and that one is for 16s to 18s," an employee tells AERA's reporter,pointing to the respective rooms and referring to the ages of their inhabitants.
"Please take a look around."
A two-way mirror encloses the room so those in the passageway can see what's happening inside while the occupants are unable to look out and learn who's peering at them.
Inside the rooms are numerous young women occupied with such tasks as fiddling with their mobile phones or doing their faces.
If the member sees a woman he likes, he lets a cafe employee know and a private room meeting is arranged.
The weekly's hack picks a 16-year-old girl called Miyuki whose most notable feature is a face filled with piercings.
Miyuki soon agrees to go out for a bite to eat.
There's more payments to the cafe involved here, with a 1,000 yen charge for talking to one of the girls, another 3,000 yen for taking the girl outside the establishment and then a 5,000 yen charge handed over directly to Miyuki for "transport fees." The member also pays for whatever expenses are to be incurred.
Miyuki says she has a boyfriend, refuses to engage in prostitution and only leaves the cafe with guys she thinks can be trusted, usually the weaker-looking types.
"There's no way I'd ever work as a nightclub hostess or in a soapland (brothel)," she tells AERA.
"With this caper, I don't have to treat the guy like a customer and it's not really dangerous. There are some guys out there who'll even pay 10,000 yen just for the chance to have a chat to a young girl. There are loads of schoolgirls who go to the cafes."
While Miyuki may not be prepared to sell her body, plenty who frequent the encounter cafes have few such qualms.
Many say encounter cafes are serving to encourage illicit prostitution.
But crimefighters say there's little in the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses that allows them to prosecute encounter cafes because they are on the surface acting only as places where the opposite sexes can meet.
"If we can prove that the cafes are paying these women to go there, or that prostitution is occurring,we can get them under the Prostitution Prevention Law, but that's about it," a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department says.
Women who go to the encounter cafes are unified in their rapidity to deny being employed there.
And the operators back them up.
"We're nothing more than manga cafes that women can use for free," one owner says.
Experts on the netherworld say encounter cafes got their break from around 2004 as authorities began cleaning up adult entertainment districts like Tokyo's Kabukicho, which has made it more difficult for traditional sex businesses to operate as openly as they used to.
There are now over 100 encounter cafes across Japan, including 10 in Kabukicho alone.
There are alarming trends evident in the cafes, too, according to adult entertainment expert Fumio Iwanaga.
"It's a bit shocking to see just how many ordinary women are going to these places. They're most average women of a type you wouldn't normally associate with the adult entertainment business as it has existed until now," Iwanaga says.
Encounter cafes appeal to women because there is no need for them to butter up men because they're paying customers, which is also the appeal for males because they can go to the establishments thinking they're chatting up ordinary women they have a chance with and not seasoned professionals.
Ryoko, a 23-year-old regular at Tokyo encounter cafes, sure has no problems with making use of them.
"Most of the girls coming here are sellers (prostitutes)," she tells AERA.
"The going rate is about 30,000 yen a shot. It's pretty easy: you go out for a while with some sleazy guy, get a bit of spare change and it's over." (By Ryann Connell)
(Mainichi Japan) May 15, 2008