The coronavirus pandemic has brought hard times for young women in Japan. According to a Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications survey, from April to June this year the average number of women out of a job for more than six months reached 340,000, considerably above the average of 280,000 for that quarter of 2020.
Some Japanese women have found it expedient to sell their bodies to older men, an activity referred to as papa-katsu. The katsu suffix was originally abbreviated from kekkon katsudo (marriage hunting), but has spread to other endeavors and activities, such as shukatsu (activities in preparation for death). Papa-katsu refers to the search by young women, usually via social media, for a sugar daddy to shower them with gifts and money in exchange for sexual favors.
Spa (Nov 2) introduces several foreign females who have fallen upon hard times due to the pandemic and, taking a hint from their Japanese sisters, have been engaging in similar activities.
Annie, a 21-year-old Indonesian who had posted on a site, was described as having an "exotic" appearance.
"I'd been working part time in a gaikokujin pub in Roppongi, but in April of last year, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the number of customers began tapering off, and my hours were cut," she relates. "I was unable to keep up repayments on the 2 million yen I'd borrowed to come here. One of the Japanese girls at my university showed me a site online that was recruiting people for papa-katsu."
In her case, the remuneration turned out to be better than expected.
"I'm in 'adult relationships' with three men I've met online," she told the reporter. "I meet up with them periodically and it brings in between 250,000 to 300,000 yen a month. That's more than twice what I was earning in Roppongi, and takes up less than half the time. I'm back on track with my loan repayments too."
She informs the reporter that last May, she had invested 700,000 yen of her earnings in a fertilizer supply business in her hometown, a village on the outskirts of the capital city, Jakarta.
"After I save up a bit more, I'd like to start up a real estate and construction business, and sell homes on converted farmland."
At the end of their conversation, the reporter was dumbstruck when she propositioned him -- at 50,000 yen for a one-time roll in the hay. He chose to make a quick exit and they made no further contact.
Phem, a 21-year-old native of Hanoi, had been attending a Japanese-language school. She agreed to meet with Spa's reporter over a cup of tea and a gift of 5,000 yen.
"She hadn't taken special pains to make herself up, but she was quite pretty. Reminded me of Taiwanese actress Vivian Hsu," the reporter writes.
"I had planned to return to Vietnam from May, after completing the Japanese language course," she says. "But I was stranded in Japan due to the coronavirus. I was granted a special 6-month extension of my visa. The Vietnamese restaurant where I'd been working part time was forced to close. My Japanese still isn't that good, so I couldn't find any other work. When things began getting really tight, my Vietnamese girl roommate told me about a site and I registered. So far I've met four ojisan (older men).
"I'd only expected to pick up a little money by letting them take me out for a meal or to karaoke, but when the subject came up, I agreed to sleep with them for money."
Coco, a female of indeterminate age who claimed to be from Singapore, had posted "I'm looking for a relationship by which a gentleman can provide assistance. Shall we meet up?"
She turned out to be a petite "Chiborg," a term applied to ethnic Chinese females of almost unworldly beauty.
Meeting her in a coffee shop, the reporter wrote that she spoke Japanese poorly, and her Singaporean English was non-existent, making her claim to that nationality somewhat suspect. But what she said next left no doubt of what she had in mind.
"Hotel. San-man-yen. Okay?"
When the reporter declined her offer, she demanded 5,000 yen as a "cancellation fee." "I came a long way, and have to pay for the train ticket!"
She agreed to accept 2,000 yen, and she quickly left the scene. A locally based Chinese journalist was able to provide an explanation.
"She works for an 'international delivery health,'" the writer was informed. "They are working on the sly, and to keep their employers from knowing about their other activities they post photos of other women, so when one shows up, she appears completely different from the one shown online."
Ryuji Demachi, a reporter who specializes in covering foreign women in the sex trade, tells Spa that one impact of the pandemic has been a change in so-called international matchmaking sites, with more women logging on solely for the purposes of prostitution.
"One thing people should watch out for is any proposals connected with investing in cryptocurrencies," he warns. "Many of these women are from Taiwan or Hong Kong. As an incentive they'll propose both stripping to the buff for a video chat, but afterwards tell the men that they've recorded the exchange and will 'expose his naked body to the whole world' if he doesn't pay up."© Japan Today