The term "working poor" has become a familiar one to Japanese wage earners. And many such individuals, notes Friday (Nov 18), gaze ruefully at their empty savings accounts and their anxieties for the future keep mounting. Is there no getting off the poverty treadmill?
There is, at least for those willing to seek employment in the sex industry. Friday profiles two such females. One, who goes by the name Aki, is a willowy 30-year-old hair and makeup coordinator who toils by day for a bridal service. After leaving work, she moonlights for a "delivery health" (outcall sex service).
"My take home pay after deductions came to around 180,000 yen," she tells the magazine. "My family was fairly well off and even in my student days I already had designer brand fashions and handbags. But once I started my job, I sold them off. Nor did I join coworkers going out drinking. And as coworkers began getting married, one after the next, I had to pitch in with the others. Even though the monetary gifts that way were just 7,000 yen, it became a drain on the budget."
After Aki finished paying off the loan for her school tuition, at age 28, she was invited to go into business with a colleague. That was when she began moonlighting in the sex trade.
Upon being requested by a customer, she accompanies him to a nearby hotel, where she is compensated to the tune of 20,000 yen per hour. "At first I'd work about three hours a day, one to two days a week," she says. "But as my popularity increased, it got to the point where I didn't see the work as being that different from working in a beauty salon."
Appointments and specific preferences of her customers could be communicated in advance through exchanges via the "deriheru's" web site. A spreadsheet of income and expenditures showed how lucrative such work can be. While Aki's meals and "miscellaneous expenses" rose considerably, other living costs remained nearly the same. As a result, monthly income went from 180,000 yen with zero savings to 700,000 yen of which half -- 350,000 yen -- wound up in the bank. After a year, she was 4 million yen richer.
"If I can save 20 million yen by age 35, I'd like to try emigrating to the U.S.," she says. "If I change my mind, I figure I can keep on at this line of work, maybe becoming an instructor. In that case I can work until I'm over 70.
"And if there's one thing I've learned in this business, it's how to attract new clientele," she chuckles.
Yuki, 25, first worked in the office of a construction company, during which time she trained as an esthetician. Which happens to be one occupation from which a practitioner can make an easy shift into better-paying work in the sex business.
When Yuki turned 25, she changed jobs, and around that time found herself pregnant. But to her shock disappointment she learned that the fellow she'd been dating already had a wife and kids.
As a single mother, her options were limited. Monthly take-home pay for an esthetician was about 150,000 yen a month, and the money she'd saved from her previous job ran out, forcing her to take out short-term, high-interest loans from "sarakin" companies. Faced with increasing debt, and determined somehow to raise her infant daughter, she was introduced to a "delivery health" firm.
"One thing that job did was raise my awareness about my own femininity," she tells Friday. "If you want to attract regular customers, you've got to keep maintaining a charming demeanor. It's also helped me get more female customers for my regular esthetic job. I feel motivated to improve my life."
From a previous savings balance of zero, she now manages to bank 100,000 yen a month.
"Once, a customer tipped me 1 million yen," she recalls. "But what I like best about this work is that I can be able to talk to various men who I'd never have a chance to meet otherwise."
Doesn't Yuki worry about her daughter someday finding out about her mom's moonlighting activities?
"I think it can't be helped," she shrugs. "I've got my own life and she will have hers. She's important to me, but I don't want to be made to feel a sense of resignation about being a woman."© Japan Today