In recent years, Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood has become almost as famous for its maid cafes as it is for its anime and video game specialty shops. Ordinarily, you don’t even have to set foot inside a cafe to feel their presence, as side streets often have maids out on the pavement passing out flyers and beckoning passersby to come to their establishments.
However, over the past few days locals have been reporting seeing notably fewer “customer pullers” (as such on-the-street staff are called), and the change follows a recent police crackdown on illegally run maid cafes.
On May 20, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested five female Akihabara maid cafe managers (between the ages of 20 and 24) and one 47-year-old male maid cafe owner over violations to the Adult Entertainment Business Regulation Law. Essentially, in Japan there are different regulations you have to follow depending on whether you’re running an ordinary restaurant/bar (called an inshokuten), or a “social restaurant/bar” (shakou inshokuten), where the wait staff also socializes with the customers and keeps them entertained.
According to the Adult Entertainment Business Regulation Law, social restaurants are required to close at 1 a.m. Ordinary restaurants, though, are allowed to stay open as long as they want, since their primary business is supposed to be providing food, and people who work night shifts or other irregular schedules might need nourishment outside the standard breakfast/lunch/dinner times.
So all else equal, it’s better to be classified as a normal restaurant, since you can stay open, and earning, past one o’clock. However, investigators judged that five Akihabara maid cafes which claimed to be regular restaurants were, in fact, social restaurants, resulting in the six arrests of the managers and owner.
Of course, one could argue that all restaurants that employ friendly, chatty, or even just polite wait staff have a social element to the services they’re providing. However, there’s a difference between service with a smile and the smile being the service itself. One of the cafes connected to the arrests, for example, was found to be charging customers as much as 7,000 yen for a bottle of cola that would cost only about 200 yen in a convenience store, but with a promise that a maid would sit and talk with them until they’d finished drinking the whole thing.
Last week’s six arrests come after arrests at four other maid cafes in April for similar violations, and investigators say that such conduct remains rampant in the neighborhood.
Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Mainichi Shimbun via Jin
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Do the hustle
Good! Anything to stop the exploitation of young girls in Japan is a good thing.
I heard it's a popular job non the less.
More closure and unemployment. Great ?
Because in fact I wonder who's hurt, outside corrupted police managers...
Just legalize prostitution and stop trying to regulate these silly fronts for brothels.
"Good! Anything to stop the exploitation of young girls in Japan is a good thing." I agree! Is there an minimum age to work at a maid cafe? I would've thought you would need to be over 20? On the other hand they seem harmless, unless they are selling sexual services onsite? Would be best to legalise sex work so that exploitation is limited. There are many places that have legalised sex work, but outlawed living off the earnings of a brothel.
So in other words. The officials didn’t get their little brown envelop cuts, and therefore shut down these places?
............ places where perverts and nerds pay 7000 yen for a drink just so they can talk to a ( young ) girl that doesn’t give a d-mn about them – who’s gonna miss that. I won’t. Clean them all. Help/Support the girls.
If they have customers willing to spend 7000 ten on a bottle of coke for a chat, then it's not just the girls being exploited.
If it make money for those who are involved without harming anyone, what is the crime? Change the rules, the more they make the more taxes they pay and everyone is happy.
And why not legalize prostitution while at it, enough of these hush hush rules, it's all out there, it's everywhere, so regulate it, and collect even more taxes.
As long as they are of legal working age, I don't see a problem.
Let them be maids and focus more on the corruption in your government departments instead of taking these girls dreams away.
are they also delivering health?
Wasn’t a prominent member of the LGBTQ+ community here recently advocating that Japan’s “maids”, snack bar ‘bar-fly’s, hostess bars ‘hostesses, ‘sex workers’ & ‘AV’ actors were actually ‘choosing’ these professions as ‘reputable, hard work’?
Yet, doesn’t that seem hypocritical to speak out about patriarchy, misogyny, etc while advocating the continued participation in the exploitation of other human beings?
Not many violent crimes in this place, but "legal" scams like this are rampant in Japan. I refuse to pay lots of money for a little thing/meal is not even worth it and make someone's day. Many japanese who've never been abroad fall for this because they dont know how absurd it is. No wonder some clerks offering services etc to my wife are clearly uncomfortable when I'm around, they know that we can see right through their bs.
Go to a soapland or Chinese massage place after 10pm. No problems there.
as long as the maids are over 18, not forced, it is a great Japanese experience. I went once in Akibahara. ¥500 beer and ¥1000 sandwich. Amazing experience
At a time such as this, shutting down businesses such as this would be very counterproductive, especially with more people in need of jobs. I agree with the comments above, let them legalize it and allow the adult entertainment industry so jobs that do offer off the menu options can work freely and avoid seedy dealings, allowing people to work safely. I'm guessing that the aftermath of this pandemic might see a rise in adult-related businesses and job takers.
In recent years...? Over a decade they have been operating.
Do these girls want to work at these places or forced to on a monetary need level?
Are they somehow treated bad by employers or customers?
How old are they generally?
I'm not into these kind of thing, however I thought it was just an innocent role.
So, someone voluntarily pays ¥7000 for a cola, while accompanied by a young woman of legal adult age who sits by until it is consumed.
And what exactly is the criminal activity here?
And how much does the government squander the involuntarily paid tax revenues on unaccounted (and unacceptable) entertainment expenses on behalf of Japan?
The hypocrisy of this all is laughable.
This strikes me as people scurrying around weird bureaucratic rules and sometimes falling foul of them.
7000 yen for a cola and a chat means the place is basically a hostess bar where the hostesses are dressed as maids. Hostess bars don't have to close at 1am, so presumably them operating in a different category to hostess bars must have some other benefit, maybe to do with booze licensing. If the logic behind different kinds of business licensing does not match the logic of what customers want or what commercially works, then yes, you're going to get people breaking the rules.
The price of a drink in a host or hostess bar bears no relation to what it may cost in a convenience store. If we are talking points of reference, I think people are stupid to pay 150 yen in a convenience store for a cola that is 80 yen in a supermarket, if one is nearby.
Girls dress up in French maids costumes, call you “master” hand you a huge bill and there’s no sex involved. Now THAT’s weird.
Seems like a safe job for the girls compared to the next stage alternatives.
if dudes have cash and want to pay for a cute girl to listen to them complain about work/not having a gf...doesn’t hurt anyone.
so yeah, the correct people didn’t get their “envelopes”.
Do the hustle
LOL, what doe maid Cafes have to do with "exploitation of young girls"? If anyone is exploited it is the customers who pay ridiculous money for some silly cosplay and omrice with a ketchup heart on it.
Wow that is news to me!
I was just in Akihabara ( very near my place by bicycle.) to get some LED lights for work.
Crowded and plenty of maid, cosplay, Ninja, etc... girls on the streets trying to get customers into their cafes.
Didn't look any different.
I will say that the number of businesses ( not maid cafes) that are now closed and gone permanently is very high with a lot of "for rent" signs.
Well those calling it exploitation, let me point out one thing.
Less known in Akihabara and other places are "Butler cafes" the same as maid cafe but men serving women.
Don't see anyone complaining or calling those exploitation?
My son's university friend's parents passed away a good while back.
His only means of paying for university where a lot of student loans.
He worked 1 year in a Butler cafe and paid off all 4 years of university loans.
This law is arbitrary and probably unconstitutional, just like many laws in Japan.
Before you complain, give all of them safe jobs with the same or more income. Can you guarantee that? No, of course not. So just shut up. There are very much worse things globally happening to women and girls than putting them in cute dresses and let them serve expensive drinks to tables. There you should step in.
This would have a much bigger meaning without the reported recent proliferation of adult themed stores in Akihabara, like this it seems more like pushing the people working on the maid cafes into more dangerous jobs.
Illegal maid cafes are sex-trafficking.
Anything to stop the exploitation of lonely men by using young attractive girls. The managers get good money and the girls are well paid but the gullible man loses his money and still goes home lonely.
Customer puller?? I thought that would be something else...
Absolutely nothing, but it's 2021, so if it involves a woman in any way then she's obviously being exploited, oppressed by the patriarchy, a victim of the male gaze, .
Terrible HTML parsing in the editor ate up the last part of my comment, but basically - "insert more SJW insanity here".
Maid in Japan.
Gee, I did not even know about those, but I am not surprised. I guess it is the low-grade equivalent of those "host clubs" in Kabukicho. Some advertise the earnings of their top hosts outside, and it is mind-boggling. These guys are certainly not "exploited".
Why assume that the employees are being exploited in maid cafes any more or any less than anywhere else? It's a job. The moment anything like this comes up, the lazy assumptions just rack up. Anything involving young working women in Japan is assumed to be a front for a yak brothel, and the staff all enslaved 12 year olds.
The new puritans love this, condemning everything from the concept to the outfits. Orwell nailed this too, with his Junior Anti-Sex League. We really are starting to live the dystopia.
If people are paying 7,000 yen for a coke and a chat, then its an expensive maid cafe. But as long as customers are not defrauded or coerced, what is the problem? Hostess bars charge a lot more for the same thing.
Maybe they need to streamline the paperwork. A phrase that could be used in several sectors in Japan.
With the pandemic-enforced closures, festivals bans, tourist blocks and these random crackdowns, all the things that make Japan internationally distinctive are fading away. Japan is becoming less Japanese and more generic. At this rate Akiba will start to resemble Eastbourne on a wet Sunday in October.