Those who stroll along the streets adjacent to drinking areas these days may notice a large number of "love hotels" undergoing what appears at first glance to be major renovations.
"Revisions in the law controlling public morals will take affect from January, and without the changes we'd be forced to shut down," the operator of one such establishment explains to Shukan Post (Dec 10). "That's because we fall under the category of 'resembling a love hotel.'"
Supervision of hotels in Japan is performed by two separate agencies. The National Police Agency supervises love hotels based on the law controlling public morals; the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare oversees general accommodations facilities such as hotels and ryokans based on a separate statute. One major difference between the two is that zoning laws ban love hotels from operating in certain areas. Such hotels may also be subject to other local ordinances.
The category of "resembling a love hotel" is being applied to establishments that, while licensed as a general hotel, essentially function as love hotels -- which also enables them to operate in zones where love hotels are supposed to be banned.
"Because the excluded zones for the love hotels usually include favorable locations, such as in entertainment areas or streets fronting on train stations, these 'resembling love hotels' can boost their occupancy, thanks to their general hotel license," a reporter for a nationally circulated newspaper tells Shukan Post. "About half of the estimated 30,000 love hotels in Japan are believed to be of this type."
"One reason for this crossover," explains the aforementioned operator, "is due to the vague distinction between love hotels and ordinary hotels. If an establishment provides a lobby and dining facilities above a designated amount of floor area, then the hotel will come under control of the law for hotels and ryokan. Many hotels are adding these modifications to the building afterwards. If they can be designated as a hotel/ryokan, they'll be inspected by the local heath department instead of the police, and the likelihood of being charged with some violation would be low."
The National Police Agency's rationale for the crackdown on love hotels is that they have become a hotbed -- if you'll excuse the expression -- for juvenile prostitution, and therefore act to "inhibit the wholesome upbringing of young people."
"If the love hotels currently operating in excluded zones want to stay in business, they will have to spend large outlays for modifications," says hotel management consultant Kazumi Yamauchi. "It also means they won't be able to operate like they did before."
When querying the National Police Agency regarding its campaign to quell juvenile prostitution, the magazine was told, "The 'resembling love hotel' establishments are a problem, because their premises tend to be utilized more for violations of the juvenile prostitution law than do regular love hotels."
Love hotel operators found this explanation to be ludicrous. "All it's going to do is drive the 'enjo kosai' activities to rental rooms and Internet cafes," sighed the operator of one Osaka love hotel.
In Shukan Post's view, the notion that love hotels situated near schools create a "hotbed of crime" is absurd, since no high school girl would risk being spotted accompanying a john into a hotel close to her own school.
The underage females engaged in such activities are no doubt having a good chuckle at the expense of the "shallow-brained bureaucrats" who imposed the current crackdown, the magazine concludes.© Japan Today