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Judge lays down law in infidelity suit

47 Comments

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

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47 Comments
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Shiseki looks a shoo-in for the Supreme Court.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Very interesting article, and great insight into the mindset in Japan regarding extramarital affairs.

As for the judge's decision: "Many club hostesses...engage in ‘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... not something that will damage the tranquility of a marriage, nor does it constitute a violation of the law.

First, this euphemistic notion of makura eigyo is clearly a form prostitution (not "similar to" prostitution) where it is nearly impossible to prove prostitution has taken place, rather than being a case of the hostess being being fond of a particular customer and seeking sexual satisfaction herself, because providing the sex is not directly linked to money changing hands, but instead payment is disguised through exorbitant prices for drinks, food, "service" at the bar owned by the "hostess. "

Also, I find it odd that the judge would think/write that paid sex is "not something that will damage the tranquility of a marriage." Even in Japan I think a spouse frequenting prostitutes would almost invariably cause quite a lot of marital tension. But then again, the remark by the judge's acquaintance that "His honor is sincere and studies with enthusiasm" sort of suggests that this is yet another Japanese lawyer/judge who is good at taking tests (the bar exam), but completely removed from any sense of reality — too much time with his head in the books, no experience in the real world.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

"...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,..."

And every wife would agree to this? "His honor's" logic escapes me.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Shouldn't the lady be suing her husband?

16 ( +16 / -0 )

“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.”

Well said! Marriage without one partner engaging in outside sex is just archaic and restricting. Japan is very open minded and this judge serves as a prime example towards a more progressive and enlightened attitude towards marriage. Truly, any woman should be PROUD that her husband is so desirable that even a bar mama would have casual sex with him! I feel like women here don't really appreciate how society (especially men) really try to watch out for them. I I think women in Japan should be more grateful that they are cared for so tenderly.

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

If it bothered her that much why not just leave him?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@crustpunker, try 20 plus years of marriage where one partner's sex drive dries up and the other's stays the same then make a more wise comment.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

i'm guessing this guy must have spent a ton of money at that club in order for the mama to do pillow sales with him.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"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"

I guess the judge forgot that prostitution is flat out illegal in Japan if there is penetration. In any case, with judges here is anyone surprised this dinosaur is protecting a fellow rich old man?

Yes, it's still cheating if you pay for it.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I guess the judge forgot that prostitution is flat out illegal in Japan if there is penetration.

It's much more ambiguous than that. Japan's anti-prostituion law was framed in a way to "protect" women, and the onus of enforcement falls against procurers, operators of brothels, human traffickers and others who profit from the sale of women's bodies. The law on the books is not rigorously enforced. In fact, it is quite unusual for a woman in Japan to be arrested for prostitution per se. If it's done at all, usually the grounds for arrest involve another violation, such as "behaving as a public nuisance" or "trespassing" (such as streetwalking or trying to pick up men in a bar or hotel lobby).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Asahi Shinbun earlier reported the same case. http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH5W4T8BH5WUTIL013.html

It included a commnet by Tamura Hayato, a lawyer specializing in divorce and infidelity lawsuits.

According to court cases, it is general that, if a woman has a sexual relationship with a man knowing he has a wife, both of them are jointly liable for compensation payment to his wife. In case of prostitution, where the responsibility of the husband is grave, the liability amount of the prostitute tends to be small, but she is basically still liable. "This court case is against precedents and is gone too far from social norms. I do not think this precedent will persist." he said.

Shukan Bunshun is known as entertainment for men, whereas Asahi is known for liberal view.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Very interesting article, and great insight into the mindset in Japan regarding extramarital affairs.

This is not exactly the norm in Japan. Usually the woman sues the other woman and wins the case. This is one of the first times I have heard the judge say sex just goes with the territory.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I find it odd that the judge would think/write that paid sex is "not something that will damage the tranquility of a marriage." Even in Japan I think a spouse frequenting prostitutes would almost invariably cause quite a lot of marital tension.

Odd? I find it mind-numbingly unbelievable. OF COURSE extramarital sex, paid or otherwise, will damage a marriage. A marriage in which one partner thinks it's OK to engage in extramarital sex likely has no tranquility in the first place.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

A marriage in which one partner thinks it's OK to engage in extramarital sex likely has no tranquility in the first place.

Has it any more tranquility (whatever that means) than an unconsummated marriage?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

So the plaintiff claims zero responsibility for not stepping up?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Has it any more tranquility (whatever that means) than an unconsummated marriage?

I said it likely has none. You can't have less than none, even the Mad Hatter worked that one out.

An unconsummated marriage has problems of its own. It isn't a contest for who can be least tranquil.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

For the persons commenting against the decision:

You all forget the the wife sued the mama, instead of suing (or divorcing) her husband. It is a fundamental human right of the mama to have a consensual relation, regardless of the status of marriage of her partner. As she was not prosecuted for any misconduct (including makura-eigyo if any occurred), I completely agree with the judgment.

If the wife has any grudge she should sue / divorce her husband first. It is impossible to prove that the mama caused the wife 4million of yen worth of damage...

4 ( +8 / -4 )

While working at an eikaiwa, my then boss suggested I enter into sexual relations with one of my female customers (who had taken a shine to me) in order to keep her sweet.

I was never quite sure whether my boss was joking or not...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Why sue the mistress? Compensation won't take away the fact her husband iss having an affair, nor does it 'punish' the husband. Have a bit of dignity and leave him, or are you worried of giving up the wife of a company president lifestyle?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It is a fundamental human right of the mama to have a consensual relation, regardless of the status of marriage of her partner.

Not in Japan. Usually spouses have a right to sue the person their partner cheated with, if the person knew the partner was married. This case is an aberration, not the norm.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If the wife has any grudge she should sue / divorce her husband first

That I would agree with.

My client wanted to avoid unpleasant reminders

The most unpleasant reminder would be waking up next to that only-on-Saturdays-after-lunch two-timing faithless philanderer every morning and looking at him over the breakfast table as he gobbled down his natto and rice. Get rid of him.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Usually spouses have a right to sue the person their partner cheated with

ONLY if they can prove any financial damage was caused by the relation (as in the husband spending family common money reserved for the kids' college on an extramarital affair). As this family was well being, and as it seems that the affair was consensual and not-paid, I really don't think this was the case here. The mama was not prosecuted here, it was a civil lawsuit.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ahh the renowned Hostess Bars in japanese society. No place for beginners or sensitive hearts-

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I've worked in very laddish environments in the UK, the US and Japan and Japanese men by far have the most blasé attitude towards extra-marital sex I've come across. Bedding girls from the cabaret clubs, 'massages' and frequent trips to soaplands. I'll never forget what one married coworker told me after I told him this wasn't my thing ( and not the only time I've heard it ) - don't worry, Japanese girls are clean. Not like foreign girls. Charming and more than slightly missing my point.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Im not a fan of J-Judges, he forgot that the wife can sue the husband and the 3rd party for adultery. Yes that is the law here in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

OF COURSE extramarital sex, paid or otherwise, will damage a marriage. A marriage in which one partner thinks it's OK to engage in extramarital sex likely has no tranquility in the first place.

It's not a matter of course. There are plenty of marriages where extramarital sex is a mutually agreed way to preserve the marriage.

The most unpleasant reminder would be waking up next to that only-on-Saturdays-after-lunch two-timing faithless philanderer every morning and looking at him over the breakfast table as he gobbled down his natto and rice. Get rid of him.

But then how could she have her natto and eat it, too?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A marriage in which one partner thinks it's OK to engage in extramarital sex likely has no tranquility in the first place.

There are plenty of marriages where extramarital sex is a mutually agreed way to preserve the marriage

Reading skills, Nessie.

But then how could she have her natto and eat it, too?

Sue him for enough alimony to keep her in natto for the rest of her days, and then some.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but I think that the mamas at those super luxurious kyabakura in Ginza district can be very influential. Just think of what kind of people would visit and afford a Ginza club. Yes, and the mama has their phones, knows details from their private lives which they had confessed while drunk. So how big is the possibility that this judge has some score at this or another Ginza club, and simply had to side with the mama. Or you think that Japanese judges are angels immune to corruption or immoral behavior?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I would dread having this backward judge rule on any case I were involved in.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Having been married to a Japanese woman over thirty years it happens that after four short years she seldom allowed sex. And I learned that my mother in law was similar in her attitude during marriage. After seeing this I realized why so many Japanese men seek comfort outside and we parted after she decided to give her favors to another after denying me most of the time. Often I was only able to persuade her no more then 2 or 3 times in a year. Sometimes less.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

so basically: if your husband pays for it, it's not adultery XDDDDDDD

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder what verdict this judge would have handed down if it had been the husband suing a man or woman the wife had been having an affair with?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Newsflash! Prostitution illegal, except when its legal.

Also, platonic sex with married people seems to have no effect on marital relations.

...I almost thought I was reading TheOnion....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It doesn't say in the article, but I wonder if the wife has been doing her share to meet the sexual needs of the husband. If she hasn't, I'd find it hard to believe his actions ALONE affected "the tranquility of the marriage".

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I know a former District Court judge. This sounds like the kind of case that caused him to give up. His general attitude over disputes like this was, "What do they expect me to do? Why can't they sort it out themselves?"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's no wonder they are called 'mama sans', they have to deal with children all the time.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

“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.” It seems that this kind of relationship exists everywhere even within a legally married couple. Sexual relationship is nobody's business. If the wife could not get enough attention from her husband, that is really her own problem. Just because you married to someone, it does not mean that you got a license to be loved for life. You need to make a constant effort so that you are lovable. You need to be a person who is attractive physically and spiritually. Complaining her own problem to her husband, another woman and to the court? Ridiculous! These judges's salaries are paid by the people's tax. Why are you wasting your tax money and precious time for this kind of problem? I don't understand. Please use your money and time for something more important.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Just because you married to someone, it does not mean that you got a license to be loved for life.

Some might disagree with that - for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part?

You need to be a person who is attractive physically and spiritually.

Spiritually I'll give you, but if physical attractiveness were an absolute requirement not many marriages would last past middle-age.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Just because you married to someone, it does not mean that you got a license to be loved for life.

Some might disagree with that - for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part?

I think marriage gives you someone who is obligated to give you the opportunity to be loved. But it's up to each person to ensure that they are still lovable.

Spiritually I'll give you, but if physical attractiveness were an absolute requirement not many marriages would last past middle-age.

I agree, though again, partners should still work to do what they can to be appealing to their partners.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Plaintiff must have starved the accused husband for long which must have forced the later to look around . Sanctity of marriage should be maintained but the man should also be protected from the cruelty of his wife

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Ahh the renowned Hostess Bars in japanese society. No place for beginners or sensitive hearts-

The husband is a sooth operator-

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

One acquaintance told me 'it's only sex'. I wonder if this is big news so that japan can hide behind its ways when having to deal with Korea and other nations in PM Abe's 8/15 speech due out. It was only sex. We really didn't hurt anyone...and besides, they were paid. Clearly, many unsoothed hearts.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This judge is a piece of work, isn't he? He thinks he knows a thing or two about the 'tranquility of a marriage'. The husband admitted to his infidelities, the bar whostess denied it. Anyway an unsavory relationship not conducive to a tranquil marriage, but condoned by a medieval mindset including the judiciary. Putting blame on the wife suggesting she did not do enough to 'keep the husband in her bed' indicates a similar attitude.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is interesting that this woman didn't sue his husband who is an adult and had his own mind! Why woman sues another woman while her man did something wrong!? I know why because the wife didn't want to sue her husband then she will also lose her joint assets while she will gain more money by suing somebody else outside of the marriage. I know that it is her emotional issue but lots of times women blame other women and that is not the way to solve the issue!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Plaintiff must have starved the accused husband for long which must have forced the later to look around . Sanctity of marriage should be maintained but the man should also be protected from the cruelty of his wife

Yeah right. Because only "starved" men go elsewhere?! How naive can you get?!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

To understand this case, you need to understand the mentality of the average Japaneae housewife. Let me tell you what has happened: The housewife is so upset over the Money that her husband spent on this woman and wants her money back! This is not about romantic infedility; it is simply a way to raise money from the husband that "belonged" to her! If that money was with the husband, she would sue him, of course, but it is not! You never understand Japanese mentality without understanding the substantial role that money (yen) plays in their life ....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The lady should sue the judge. Sure the lady had no case against the mama but the reason for the verdict is quite hilarious. Seems like the judge knows a lot about pillow sex and how it works with the mamas he frequents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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