Extended school closures. Teleworking from home. Music concerts and sports events, cancelled one after the other.
As the threat from the coronavirus grows, the mood of jishuku (self control, or, if you prefer, social distancing), has permeated Japanese society. And as Asahi Geino (March 19) observes, it is also spawning kajiba dorobo, literally, looters at the scene of a fire, but by extension, people who take advantage of a crisis to engage in illegal activities.
Takayori Maeda, who covers the commercial sex scene in the Kansai area, noted how foreign demand flickered out with the approach of the pandemic.
"Before, the brothels in Tobita Shinchi were crowded with groups of Chinese and other foreign tourists, but now all you see here are a few Japanese strolling around," says Maeda. "And at Togano-cho or Juso, where outcall deriheru women wait to be summoned to the nearby love hotels, older men seeking young women on weekends has pretty much disappeared."
On condition of anonymity, the manager of a deriheru service in Tokyo talks shop with Geino's reporter.
"The impact of the pandemic? Well, we are not a 'full service' outfit (in that the employees do not perform honban [intercourse]), but I'd still say our outcall business is better than 'walk-in' shops like massage parlors. What's been happening is that salaried workers who have been ordered to work from home find themselves with time on their hands, so they call us to send a girl over. We've been getting pretty steady business from guys who phone and say hesistantly, 'This is the first time for me.'
"Our biggest concern right now is of some girls leaving to work at other shops because they aren't making enough money with us," he added.
It seems that competition has heated up, with more deriheru offering corona-wari discounts -- by dispensing of initial membership charges and not charging for the girl's transportation.
Some girls, however, have decided not to wait patiently for customer calls but are seeking ways to deal direct, such as by posting personal data on dating sites, offering enjo kosai ("compensated dating") arrangements. They include semi-pros, university students seeking to earn income by engaging in papa-katsu (a regular arrangement with an older man), and hard-up housewives hoping to supplement the family budget.
"Previously most of the women who posted on those sites were amateurs," said the aforementioned manager, "but since the corona mess, there has clearly been a jump in the number of women who appear to be pros, judging from the not-so-subtle sexual euphemisms they use in their self-introductions."
Considerably more detestable than desperate housewives are those shady characters who have cleaned out retailers of face masks, toilet paper, tissues, liquid hand cleaner and other essential items. By the time Prime Minister Abe announced on March 5 that reselling of such commodities would be prosecuted, it was already too late.
"Perhaps because people were traumatized by shortages after the big earthquake in March 2011, they've been stocking up on all sorts of edibles," a reporter for a daily newspaper was quoted as saying. "Who knows what will vanish from the shelves next? Bottled water maybe?"
That said, there are always people who don't believe in earning an honest living, and who see the pandemic as an opportunity.
One of the worst of these are men who knock on the doors of homes, particularly of seniors, in prefectures where people have tested positive for the coronavirus.
"Under the guise of staff from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, they coerce people into accepting a phony 'disinfection treatment' of their home, and then present the householder with a bill for 100,000 yen.
Others, in the wake of plunging stock market prices, are looking for signs of a rebound, which once again offers opportunities to bilk the elderly.
"These guys will persuasively convince their targets they have a chance to get in on the ground floor of a vaccine that is effective against the coronavirus, for which demand is certain to soar," an insider "outlaw," tells Asahi Geino. "They set the price below a million yen, say 800,000, and promise it will pay them dividends of 25% a month, which means they'll recoup their original investment in four months.
"It's an irresistible con scheme, that often works."© Japan Today