Since last year, a string of incidents have occurred involving so-called "girl's bars," "ear-cleaning esthetic salons" and "thigh massages." In January 2008, a 23-year-old female worker was fatally stabbed by customer at a "girl's bar" in Matsuyama City.
The factor common to all three types of establishments is they do not fall under the Law Regulating Businesses Affecting Public Morals, which prohibits workers under the age of 18 from directly serving customers, including engaging in extended conversation or providing services of a sexual nature.
Spa! (Sept 8) reports that high-school girls have been flocking to such "lite-type" services -- particularly during their summer vacations -- where word on the street says they can earn as much as 400,000 yen or more per month.
Even ear-wax removal, however, can have its perils. A 17-year-old working at once such "esute" in Akihabara says drunken customers often attempt to grope her. "The shop lets customers bring in their own drinks, so some act like they're in a cabaret club," she tells the magazine.
Last June, police in Saitama shut down an ear-cleaning establishment on a zoning violation. "It was operating in a shopping mall," says a Saitama prefectural police source. "We received information it was engaging in 'sexual services.' After obtaining confidential testimony from a customer, we went to court and obtained a warrant."
The service, which had opened in May 2008, had added a new twist from December to boost revenues.
"I responded to the help-wanted ad, and went to the interview thinking it was an ordinary esthetic salon," says a 17-year-old who had worked there. "The manager told me, 'In addition to ear-cleaning, we also offer other kinds of things.'"
What he referred to was a "rejuvenation treatment," a euphemism for "testicle massage," for which customers paid 14,500 yen for a one-hour session.
In Nagoya, an "esute" featuring teens, whose ages and other profile data are displayed openly to customers, operates just minutes from the main railway station.
"I've kept it a secret from my dad, but my mother knows I'm working here," says the masseuse, a girl in her second year of high school identified as C. "My allowance got cut off because of the recession. On a good day, I'll have three or four customers and take home about 40,000 yen."
While the girls -- who wear bikinis while they work -- are under no compunction to engage in sex, C says some customers become aroused and inquire if such services are available.
While C adheres to the shop rules, other girls appear eager to supplement their pay with tips. "My friend lets them grope her for an extra 2,000 yen," she says. "She told me customers will slip the bills into her bra."
Aside from airing authorities' annoyance over how such questionable shops manage to skirt legal constraints, the article voices concerns that the young women who take on such jobs may find the high remuneration an incentive to turn to full-blown prostitution. Tougher ordinances, Spa! concludes, will probably be needed.© Japan Today