|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.|
Crackdown on sex industry drives STDs through the roof 2006,11,9
Flash 11/21 By Ryann Connell
Alarming increases in outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases across Japan are nothing to clap about, according to Flash (11/21).
An estimated 6.5 million Japanese are believed to have contracted at least one type of venereal disease, with some estimates saying one in four female sex workers and one in five of all women having a sexually transmitted disease of some sort.
"Looking at the figures on a nationwide level shows a gradual increase in the number of people with STDs, but if you go to places like (Tokyo entertainment districts) Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Roppongi, contraction rates are skyrocketing," Flash hears from Seiji Matsuda, head of the Japanese Foundation for Sexual Health Medicine, an organization that has for almost a century advised Japanese on coping with STDs -- or illnesses of the flower and willow world, as they were once referred to.
"And the people contracting the diseases are getting younger all the time."
Crackdowns on Japan's sex business have driven it underground and made it harder for care workers to deal with the STD problem.
"There are women who go into sex work on a part-time basis and pick up diseases, but don't want to get them treated because it'll show up on their health insurance records or their parents will find out the jobs they've been doing," Matsuda says.
"We get calls for help from schoolgirls, too."
When permitted to operate openly, many sex services encouraged workers to regularly undergo health checks.
But with authorities shutting down all and sundry, many workers are driven into going freelance.
When times get tight, there's a tendency to forgo things like regular check-ups and turning down risky johns.
"That doesn't mean going to a high class soapland brothel is going to be entirely safe, though. Brothel operators aren't going to be happy if women they're paying big wages aren't around to perform and customers are going to complain if their favorite workers aren't around," a doctor who regularly treats STDs says.
"Some women know they've got STDs, but keep working even while they're being treated. For soapland workers, not being on the job means they're not getting paid, so many will knowingly work with STDs and try and hide it from their bosses."
Dr. Masahiko Ozeki, a urologist who once regularly performed health checks on prostitutes, says the pattern of STD contraction has changed in Japan over the past decade.
"Now, most people are getting them from friends and lovers (rather than professional sex workers)," Ozeki tells Flash.
"Many people now lose their virginity during high school or college, then go out into the workforce and have sex with several different partners, making it easier for STDs to spread."
Chlamydia is fast becoming the scourge of Japan, and its transmission among partners is made easier because it has no visually discernable symptoms.
A Fukushima Prefecture study found girls as young as 10 had contracted chlamydia.
In Tokyo, one in 5 schoolgirls who visited public health clinics did so to be treated for the sexually transmitted disease.
When it came to 18- and 19-year-olds, the chance they had contracted chlamydia rose to 1 in every 4.
"Chlamydia can be treated with pharmaceuticals, so there's a tendency to treat it likely in the belief that picking up another case will only need another dose of medicine. What people forget, though, is that those who've picked up chlamydia are at higher risk of contracting HIV," Ozeki tells Flash.
"Some Japanese will go overseas and not use a condom, saying that 'going without once will be all right.' Unfortunately, 'going without once' is more than enough to pick up something." (By Ryann Connell)
November 9, 2006