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World Cup 2002 - Brothels Shuttered by Osaka Police


by R. Sanborn Brown

Sex Services Ad.
© Peter Macintosh

To avoid giving the "wrong impression" to foreign visitors during this June's World Cup, the Osaka Police Department has begun raiding brothels close to Shin-Osaka Station, the largest train station in the city and a main port of entry for many visitors. The city also enacted a new law this March aimed at reducing the leaflets and "pink" post-its that advertise specialized, illegal services in the environs of the station. These ads can be found plastered all over telephone polls and phone booths in any major city throughout Japan.

The police have launched an effort to root out "private room massage" services, which were officially made illegal in 1998, and have in the past two months arrested ten people. There are thirty-three known establishments in the area of the station; recently, however, brothels have started appearing in apartment buildings—which brings the total to more than one hundred in that section of the city alone. Some of these businesses have been created as short-term ventures with an eye toward June's World Cup.

The Asahi Shinbun noted that the provision of the new law allows for all citizens to assist in the removal of these adverts. Though it is illegal to post or distribute any materials advertising prostitution, laws are only sporadically enforced (as is the case for actual prostitution as well). One major problem is simple removal: the cops can't keep up with the touts. In 2000 alone, the Osaka police removed an estimated 1.69 million post-its in the city. "It's a vicious cycle: as soon as we tear them down, new ones go up." The Prefectural police though are concerned about the city's image, so they keep on ripping them down. "If things remain as they are [during the World Cup], it'll be a real embarrassment for the city of Osaka. Our image overseas will go down the toilet."

In a stunning investigative breakthrough, the Japanese police have come to the conclusion that "the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) are behind all the advertising and sex parlors….," and plans are afoot to redouble efforts—at least until the World Cup is over and the foreign tourists are all gone.

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