In a statement released on Sept 9, 2019, the National Tax Agency noted that the average annual income for female workers came to 2.93 million yen, as opposed to 5.45 million yen for males. But according to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 55.5% of these female workers are employed as part-time or irregular workers such as from dispatch firms, as opposed to the fortunate minority who receive the full wage package, such as bonuses, paid leave and other perks.
These less privileged female workers take home an average of only 1.54 million yen per year, as opposed to 2.36 million for their male counterparts.
In other words, points out Shukan Jitsuwa (March 12), one single female worker out of three earns less than half the national average, which qualifies her to be categorized as belonging to the segment referred to as sotaiteki hinkon (relative poverty).
To narrow the income gap, some women, for whatever reason, turn to prostitution. Take 23-year-old Saya, who sells ad space for a free newspaper. Out of her monthly take-home pay of 210,000 yen, just under half -- 100,000 yen -- goes to apartment rent and utilities. On top of that, she pays 80,000 yen to attend an occupational training school and another 30,000 yen she owes to an attorney.
Saya came to Tokyo five years ago. She was unable to rely on financial assistance from her family, so after high school graduation she began working as a hostess in a cabaret club.
"There were no jobs back home, and I felt this was the only way to make money," she said. "Up to that point I had no experience working in the 'water trade.' Still, it seemed better than selling my body. It didn't take long to get used to the job."
Her life changed when a customer at the club, a man in his 30s employed in the IT sector, began showing interest.
"He would come to the club at least once a week," she relates. "He spent freely and bought me drinks. Always asked for me. I would meet him outside of work and he gave me 50,000 yen."
She soon realized working at night had no future and began learning out to be a manicurist, in the hope of opening her own nail salon. After quitting her job at the club, however, the customer continued to pursue her, sending messages via Line.
Then one day she came home and found prints of her in the nude. The next day at work she received an email of her and a female friend bathing together at an hot springs.
His threats of blackmail continued and she gave in to his demands, thinking if she "just slept with him once, maybe he'd leave me alone..."
But the customer turned out to be physically abusive as well, and she eventually turned to her older brother, who went to the police. The customer and brother are currently embroiled in a civil lawsuit.
"But then I found out I was pregnant by him," she admitted. "I just got an abortion."
Shukan Jitsuwa relates two more tales of woe. One, 29-year-old Tomoko, dropped out of school from her sophomore year after being saddled with 4.9 million yen in tuition loans. She worked in the water trade but eventually returned to her home town where she works for a pachinko shop, supplementing her income with papa-katsu, i.e., occasionally bedding with an older man for 30,000 yen a pop.
The other, 28-year-old Reika, is a single mother who had fled an abusive stepfather while in her teens. After her mother's divorce she returned home. Her mother, age 45, earns 200,000 yen a month at a part-time job while she hunts for work.
Nonfiction writer Atsuhiko Nakamura blames two laws that "deregulated" the labor market in 1999 and 2004 for creating the current hardships among Japan's workers, particularly females.
"The laws had the effect of increasing the number of non-regular workers, and have resulted in an expanding income disparity," Nakamura said, adding, "In addition, some middle-aged and older men who have maintained high incomes have led them to assume an air of superiority and engage in sexual harassment or power harassment. Even while they take advantage of younger women sexually, these men might be saying smugly to themselves, 'Look how worthless the younger generation has become' and 'I'm really worried about Japan's future© Japan Today