The word "makura eigyo," literally "pillow sales," does not appear in the unabridged Kojien dictionary. Japanese Wikipedia, however, contains a fairly extensive explanation, including this definition: "A method of sales by which sexual relations are arranged between two people who met one another through business, and which proceeds on the basis of material gain."
"Makura eigyo" popped up in a recent case involving the Tokyo District Court, and Shukan Bunshun (June 11) has focused more attention on the presiding judge's invoking this term than on the legal ramifications of the case.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit was the wife of a company president -- no names are mentioned in the story -- whose complaint was: "For approximately seven years, the 'mama' (female proprietor) of a bar in Ginza had conducted a relationship with her husband involving sexual liaisons, causing mental anguish. As the woman engaged in illegal actions, she demanded a 'consolatum' of 4 million yen for her psychological anguish."
According to the husband's deposition, he had "Once or twice a month, mainly on Saturdays, met with the woman for lunch, after which they proceeded to a hotel to engage in sex, and then went their separate ways."
The mama of the club, however, denied that aspect of the relationship, telling the court, "He was an important customer, but we did not have sexual intercourse."
In any event, after only two sessions, the judge ruled against the wife, on the grounds that even if the husband's indiscretions were in fact true, it was a case of "pillow sales."
Katsuyuki Aoshima, attorney for the plaintiff, said, "Although the defendant denied having engaged in sexual relations with the husband, it was the judge who abruptly raised the subject of 'pillow sales.' Neither side in the suit did so."
In his written decision, judge Masamitsu Shiseki noted that "Many club hostesses, as is well known, engage in 'pillow sales,' and these 'pillow sales,' which are similar to prostitution, involve no more than engaging in sex for the purpose of satisfying their customers' sexual urges. This is, therefore, not something that will damage the tranquility of a marriage, nor does it constitute a violation of the law."
His honor was also said to have asked an indelicate question during the first hearing, asking the plaintiff if she thought she could "demand compensation from a sex worker in a soapland."
Born in 1958, Judge Shiseki graduated from the Faculty of Law at Kansai University, after which he served as a legal apprentice. He currently sits on the bench of the Yokohama District Court.
"His honor is sincere and studies with enthusiasm," said an attorney who knew Shiseki from earlier times. "He was assigned to the Ministry of Justice for some 20 years, where he was entrusted in working out reforms in the civil code. While his time as a judge has been brief, he is on a trajectory for promotion."
Attorney Kaoru Inoue, himself a former judge, remarked to Shukan Bunshun, "In terms of common wisdom of a court, to judge sexual intercourse as an illicit act would be an extremely irregular decision, smacking of unjust suspicion on the part of the accused. But if the decision is based on this particular incident, there's something odd about describing it as 'pillow business,' which exceeds the authority of the law. As the ruling has been finalized, there's a possibility that this might affect future trials involving relationships between men and women."
In any event, this lawsuit seems to be over.
"My client wanted to avoid unpleasant reminders, so she did not appeal the ruling," says attorney Aoshima.
The case was heard in April 2014, but only came to light when published in the most recent issue of a legal journal, the "Hanrei Times."© Japan Today