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Scores of street scouts still trolling in search of recruits for sex businesses

17 Comments

A "scout," according to one dictionary definition, is "a person who assesses and/or recruits others; especially, one who identifies promising talent on behalf of a sports team."

Sex might not be a sport, but in Japan it is a business, and people with a knack for scouting out "promising talent" are paid well for their efforts. Scouts at the top of their profession are said to earn 10 million yen or more per year.

Writing in Nikkan Gendai (Dec 5), Atsushi Mizoguchi, an authority on crime in general and organized crime in particular, has taken notice of criminal organizations that exist apart from the traditional yakuza. They are referred to by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department using the nomenclature "anonymous, mobile criminal groups."

A prime example that has attracted notice in recent years are the so-called han-gure, which were originally spun off from biker gangs. They have expanded nationwide, and in recent years have even moved offshore, conducting certain operations from the Philippines and Cambodia.

More recently, Tokyo police have turned their attention to an outfit calling itself "Natural." Said to function as an umbrella organization, it oversees the activities of an estimated 1,500 independent scouts.

With 1,500 pairs of boots on the ground, we are talking about major money here. How much? Well, would you believe annual turnover estimated as high as 5 billion yen?

That's why well dressed, smooth-talking young scouts can be spotted on the prowl in front of major rail stations and along shopping streets, where they smoothly deliver their practiced pitch to female pedestrians. Typically they appeal to the women's commercial instincts, urging them to consider taking up lucrative employment at, say, cabaret clubs. Or to star in an adult video. Or, for those who desire high earnings and don't mind getting wet, slosh the suds at a soapland (erotic bathhouse).

What makes the system so profitable is that scouts not only receive a fixed amount for recruiting the women, but continue receiving a cut from their revenues for as long as the woman remains employed therein -- truly a gift that keeps on giving. Natural has systematized its business model, distributing generous commissions to its most productive proxies.

There's a downside to this arrangement, however; if a woman responds to incentives to leave her current "pink" employer and move to another shop, there's no easy way to stop her.

While a public nuisance ordinance banning this sort of sidewalk trolling was enacted in Tokyo in 2005, enforcement appears to have been less than stringent. One possible reason is that Natural does not fall under the standard description of "anonymous, mobile criminal groups" in the strict sense of the term, in that it operates openly out of an office, and has management and staff with clearly designated tasks.

Enviously watching from the sidelines as Natural raked in profits, a yakuza gang several years ago started thinking about horning in on the scout business. Soldiers of an affiliate of the Sumiyoshi-kai gang based in Shinjuku's Kabukicho district clashed violently with members of Natural group, but the hoods eventually backed off and decided to leave well enough alone.

A possible reason was that new host clubs were starting up all over Kabukicho around that time, and the Sumiyoshi-kai sensed better opportunities elsewhere.

Or perhaps the Sumiyoshi-kai just realized it was in over its head, and gave up ambitions to cut in on the trade. That makes plenty of sense to Mizoguchi, who wryly noted that while yakuza gangs have long dominated certain areas of the underground economy, they tend to lack creativity when it comes to developing new sources of revenues.

© Japan Today

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17 Comments
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Just change the name,and carry on.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

And Tokyo's finest continue to ignore this and concentrate on stopping people for walking, riding and driving whilst being foreign.

-3 ( +15 / -18 )

Evils doers trying to corrupt vulnerable women and lure them into a life of vice.

Lemrthy prison sentences are required for this filth.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Dang. I didn't make the scouts' criteria. Not that I'd do anything like that, mind. I just wish people would look at me more. It's tough being ugly.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Typically they appeal to the women's commercial instincts, urging them to consider taking up lucrative employment at, say, cabaret clubs. Or to star in an adult video. Or, for those who desire high earnings and don't mind getting wet, slosh the suds at a soapland (erotic bathhouse).

You have got to be kidding; appealing to"commercial instincts"?

The flippant tone of the article trivialises the whole sordid business.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I used to be harassed by those scouts nearly every time I was in Shibuya or Shinjuku. You say "no" politely at first, but they follow and harass you until you have to get aggressive back at them to force them to leave you alone.

And reporting them to the police is useless because the police don't do anything - my friend and I once went to the koban in Kabukicho to report a scout that had physically grabbed her, but the officer only told us that Kabukicho is dangerous and that we should not be there. He refused to even leave the police box, or to give the guy at least a warning even though we asked again and again.

I don't know if the situation has changed or not but back in the 2000's when I lived in Shinjuku, the police in Kabukicho didn't take women being harassed by scouts or touts at all seriously. And considering this article, that seems unlikely to ever change.

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

Scouting goes on over here in California, as well, although perhaps not to the same degree.

I asked a young woman how she ended up employed where she was, and she said she was approached at a bus terminal, on her way to Southern California. (I have a long history of talking to all kinds of people.)

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Just call it by its real name : search of sex slaves.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I believe they are called "pimps"

7 ( +8 / -1 )

There's a downside to this arrangement, however; if a woman responds to incentives to leave her current "pink" employer and move to another shop, there's no easy way to stop her.

Blackmail is easily used. Once the gang has incriminating pictures of the woman, they can convince her to keep working if she doesn't want the pictures sent to her friends and family. Not every shop will do this, but once you wade into the gray zone the number of sociopaths you encounter will grow.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese cops are notorious for only being hard on obviously law abiding citizens. They know that if they try and arrest any real criminals, it is the cops who end up in real trouble.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Why is this article glorifying these people?

It's also well known that many women who end up doing porn or sex work are recruited as "models". Unlike the story, it is not some consensual thing where a scout says, "hey babe, wanna shoot some porn? 250,000 yen a flick" which sounds "lucrative" to her. Many women are deceived into visiting offices to become models, and then threatened until they agree to pose nude or do porn. If every woman was into the idea of sex work, there would be no need for scouts. The women would simply tour their local soaplands and see who pays the most.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

 If every woman was into the idea of sex work, there would be no need for scouts. 

That's right. For example, they could go to the free magazines, of which there are several are distributed, with 80 to 100 pages of classified ads for soapland masseuses, strippers, etc., complete with details about fringe benefits like babysitting service (for working mothers), transportation to work, dormitories, etc.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Regarding my earlier post, one of the best known of such magazines is Tinkle. The same ads appearing in the print edition can be found online as well:

https://www.tinkle.co.jp

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And as the Japanese economy sinks ever lower it will only lead to more Japanese females selling their bodies

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

And as the Japanese economy sinks ever lower it will only lead to more Japanese females selling their bodies

Actually during the years of the bubble economy it happened too. It would seem that prostitution thrives during both booms and busts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually during the years of the bubble economy it happened too. It would seem that prostitution thrives during both booms and busts.

The difference being that it's more likely to be a choice during a boom, whereas it may be the only option during a bust.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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