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Street scouts take risks to rake in big money

17 Comments

On Sept 7, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police announced the arrest of three men on charges of violating the city's ordinance against public nuisances. Charges are to be filed against a total of eight employees of a self-described worker dispatch firm named "Talent Bank."

One of the three arrested was the company's president, Mamoru Yoshioka, 34. Yoshioka's "company" did not send part-time workers to offices, stores and factories, but oversaw the activities of street scouts (called "sukautoman" in Japanese), who accost young women on street corners and arrange for them to work in drinking establishments or sex shops. The shops pay monthly finder's fees for as long as the women remained employed therein.

According to police, Yoshioka was charged with having approached two female students on an Ikebukuro street in August 2011, and recruited them to work at a sex shop. Both were aged 16 at the time.

Weekly Playboy (Sept 30) reports that Talent Bank, which secured the services of some 67 scouts, including females, cleared over 10 million yen a month, and was believed to have raked in over 300 million yen since the company's founding in 2011.

Street scouting used to be very much a solitary profession, but more recently, the magazine has learned, they have become organized into groups. The main source of inside information about this is the pseudonymous Mr A, who heads his own group of some 20 scouts.

"It's no longer rare now for scouts to organize," he says. "They pay a 'kanban-ryo ('sign fee') to whatever group they tie up with, to be able to use the company name. At first, the fee is a flat 30% of their sales. The more they get ahead, the lower the percentage.

"There are two reasons why things work better this way," he explains. "The first is that tying up with a company lets them secure a piece of territory on which to operate. In some drinking areas people fight over territory, and this lets the group assign spots where their scouts can work without any hassle. That's why it's hard to do scouting work on the street without a tie-up with a group."

And what's the other reason?

"To be able to use the organization's network," he says. "If it's a group that's worked out contracts with lots of sex shops, they'll be able to introduce the girls to places that are hiring more quickly."

But irrespective of how much the scouts pay a sign fee up front, crackdowns by the police have been getting tougher, and there's always a risk of being arrested.

"For sure, the cops have been getting stricter about recruitment on the street," A says. "And the girls don't know anything about who we are, so more of them are avoiding us. The job's getting tougher, year after year.

"These days, the more skilled a scout is, the less time he'll spend on the street. He'll come on to a girl at a club and take her to a social party where he can expand his network. Or to look at it the other way, many of the guys you see out working the streets are there because they don't have good personal contacts."

Miku, a young gal who works in a cabaret club, tells Playboy's reporter, "I came to Tokyo from the countryside. Because a lot of street scouts are shady-looking, when I was back home, a senior from my school advised me before I arrived here that she knew some 'good scouts in Tokyo,' and she gave me an introduction to one."

Miku still receives mails from the scout on her cell phone. She shows Weekly Playboy one message he'd sent her, and the reporter is surprised by its courteous tone. The message also provides info to her about plastic surgery clinics and specialists who assist people in debt reduction.

It's important to make them trust you," A explains. "Our organization has got this kind of knowhow."

"Most scouts are students," says A. "It's because they've got more time for these things you see. A lot of them attend famous schools, and when business is good, they can earn several million yen a month.

"If it comes to that point, they usually stop attending classes," he chuckles.

There's a lot of money for those who master the tricks of the trade. The question is, though, is it worth the risk of getting busted?

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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“There are two reasons why things work better this way,” he explains. “The first is that tying up with a company lets them secure a piece of territory on which to operate. In some drinking areas people fight over territory, and this lets the group assign spots where their scouts can work without any hassle. That’s why it’s hard to do scouting work on the street without a tie-up with a group.”

Seems like they might be able to use the new anti-yak legal provisions to crack down.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Shady characters, but all part of life in Japan and in the big city.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What the heck's a "yak"?

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

Really, this kind of activity takes my breath away. Young people (of both sexes) being lured into shady dealings with the promise of vast fortunes by manipulative organizers who mock the lifestyle and education of those who become ensnared. Also, a society that advocates and glamourizes 'easy millions" is partly to blame. The article, however, having appeared in the lofty journal 'Weekly Playboy', has probably fallen on deaf ears. (Michael: a 'yak' is a large, shaggy, mountain dwelling ungulate used as a pack animal; or, short for 'yakuza', a small, nylon-suited, volotile Japanese criminal syndicate member.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

zenkanSep. 19, 2013 - 11:14AM JST Really, this kind of activity takes my breath away. Young people (of both sexes) being lured into shady dealings with the promise of vast fortunes by manipulative organizers who mock the lifestyle and education of those who become ensnared. Also, a society that advocates and glamourizes 'easy millions" is partly to blame.

Reading this for a few moments I wasn't sure if you were describing investment banking or the sex industry, because the descriptions are scarily similar.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

I was standing near the Isetan dept. store in Shinjuku waiting to meet a friend and spent about 15 minutes watching one of these guys in action. He was very adept at body language. I would imagine the scouts spot their target (young women walking alone or in pairs), approach them from the front and then reverse their direction to walk along side them, avoiding eye contact. I couldn't hear what they were saying but I could imagine... Another thing I noticed was that they tend to be of fairly short stature (so the level of their head is near the woman's) and that they are slender and non-intimidating. It was totally obvious what they were doing and there was a koban directly across the street. I could just imagine what the reaction would be if I had approached an officer and said, "The sidewalk pimps are as thick as flies around here. Since it's illegal, why don't you do something about it?"

4 ( +5 / -1 )

When the writer refers to "sex shops", does he mean "illegal brothels"?

I suspect the 16 year old girls in the article weren't selected for their skills at selling mucky magazines. Or are we expected to pretend there is no prostitution in Japan?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

So, they have arrested eight? Big effing deal! I see at least that many chasing girls down the street at nearly every major station in Tokyo and Chiba. A typical Japanese crackdown! Arrest a few then move back to checking bicycle registrations. They are not serious about stopping this disgusting code of conduct. They only want a headline, which they now have, so its back to the koban to sleep. I'll be impressed when they have a few hundred of these scouts and their managers in custody. A couple of times I have walked into one of these scouts hassling a girl and told them to get lost cos she was my girlfriend. They disappear pretty quickly and the girls always appreciate it.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

When the writer refers to "sex shops", does he mean "illegal brothels"?

Massage parlors, including those whose employees dress up in costumes and engage in role-playing on themes that appeal to some fetish ("fashion health"), which typically bring male customers to an orgasm by any means short of vaginal penetration, are legal in Japan and operate openly. Of course they are not allowed to employ minors.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They need a cleanup like how New York City cleaned up Times Square in the 90's.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

michael craig-

yak is short for yakuza,

yakuza are japanese organized crime, like the mafia

3 ( +5 / -2 )

When the writer refers to "sex shops", does he mean "illegal brothels"?

I suspect the 16 year old girls in the article weren't selected for their skills at selling mucky magazines. Or are we expected to pretend there is no prostitution in Japan?

Yes and yes.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Pimps - no more.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wolves in sheep clothing reporting on other wolves as they all make money off the culture. Junk.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I can't stand these guys who prey on young women, trying to turn them into hostesses and prostitutes. Let's hope the J-cops make the lives of these punks and the pimps who run these organizations more and more difficult!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Explains why some slut-performance-bedecked students in my university classes suddenly stopped coming to classes. I worry about their futures. Short gain, long term pain I predict, reluctantly.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ah, so not young chaps in khaki shorts helping little old ladies across the street then? Wrong type of street scouts?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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