Student touts rake in big money in Kabukicho by steering customers to overpriced izakaya


Part-time jobs for university students are not generally known for their lavish wages. Which is why some students are willing to bend the rules for more lucrative opportunities. Recently, reported J-Cast News (Nov 6), the blogosphere was buzzing over the arrest of a senior at Meiji University, who was arrested on multiple charges of pandering in the Kabukicho entertainment zone. 

The official charge was "fraudulent obstruction of business." 

Working as a street tout, the student would deceive customers by steering them to a different shop than the one he claimed to represent. 

Shown wearing a white parka and bearing a poker face, the student's arrest was covered on the evening TV news broadcast on several channels on Nov 5.  

According to various media sources, the 21-year-old student, while working part time at an izakaya (restaurant-pub) in Kabukicho, on the night of Oct 13 had approached a mixed group of men and women in their 30s and 40s about to enter an establishment in a neighboring building, advising them, "That place in the basement is completely full now." 

He courteously offered to escort them to a rival shop. 

"It's part of the same chain, so you'll be able to order dishes from the same menu," he assured them. But realizing they had been hoodwinked, the customers phoned the police to complain about one hour later. 

The suspect, who began working from last April, was believed to applied the same technique any number of times over the previous six months. His arrest on November 3 was announced to the media two days later. Both he, and the manager of the shop where he was steering customers underwent grilling by the police. 

"We hear about this type of activity all the time, even several times a day," the secretariat of the Kabukicho Merchants' Promotion Association told J-Cast's reporter. "The shop does not contract directly with the touts, but rather a with group with ties to the local yakuza, who collect money from the shop in the form of 'advertising fees.' Then they steer customers to their shop. 

"Right now three groups are operating in Kabukicho, with several dozen of the touts working the streets. They deal with over 20 restaurants, all of which are rip-off joints that overcharge their customers. We have 3,000 business in Kabukicho, and these 20 are making all of us look bad!"

It would appear that quite a few of the touts involved in this kind of scam are enrolled in top-ranked private universities. 

"Through word-of-mouth via SNSs and so on, recruitment is done in the same manner as pyramid schemes, with promises of lucrative income," the aforementioned secretariat explained. "Once they are roped in to the work, the money's so good they can't quit. Many of them rake in one million yen or more a month. The system is set up so that they are motivated to steer more customers to the shops that pay the highest percentage of kickbacks." 

The police were moved to take action following a new metropolitan ordinance that took effect from October which prohibits shops from paying protection money to yakuza gangs, on penalty of fines. The new scam was organized in attempt to get around the law. 

"As the number of people engaged in such kind of 'catch' work (touting) has not declined, over the past month or so I've been told that the Shinjuku police station appealed directly to universities to discourage their students from engaging in this kind of part-time work," the secretariat was quoted as saying. "Touting can be a stepping-stone to other types of fraud, such as the 'it's me, send money' scams that are backed by organized crime groups. Once a person gets involved with them, it can very well wreck the rest of his life."

© Japan Today

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I guess it's okay at this point that the student's name was left out of the story, but if he's found guilty, Meiji U. should expel him in as public a manner as possible.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So outlaw touting, post notices, and have the cops move them on or issue citations and fines. It serves no purpose to have these punks shilling and blocking the sidewalk, anyway.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Seedy things happen in seedy places.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

overpriced izakaya

You'd expect what else in Kabukicho ?

rip-off joints that overcharge their customers

How is that defined ? There are no official rates of dishes. A shop is free to propose the plate of edame with your beer for zero yen, 100 yen, 200 yen, 1000 yen... It's business. It seems there is more to the story.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

A few years ago, I went to meet a couple of friends for a game of pool somewhere in Tokyo (I can't remember where it was now). After the game we walked the streets looking for a cheap place to eat. There were a few touts about. One suggested we go restaurant A and if we did, we could get beers for X price. Of course, that beer price never existed and it was a lie just to get us inside. We bit and went in. It was a bit of a rubbish restaurant and was also a tad pricey. After looking at the menu, I just had a beer cos I'm tight! After that night, I just ignored all the touts as it's all rubbish. Basically, just go where you want to go and ignore the touts.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Come on Japan, you are better than this.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A safe country, but lots of shadiness about...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think all izakayas are overpriced! (grandpa e-moji)

I suspect touts for more shady establishments with ladies providing services will be involved in much greater deception that this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Both he, and the manager of the shop where he was steering customers underwent grilling by the police

Seems appropriate given the business they are in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It looks like all things negative is happening at a young age for japanese society.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


So outlaw touting, post notices,

Have you been to Kabukicho? There are non-stop PA announcements in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese on the street and posters all over saying that touting is illegal and warning about following touts..... while your instant Nigerian friend accost you all the time, trying to guide you a "gentlemen's club".

Just "outlawing" and "posting notices" sounds so easy. Reality is different.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The TV news was covering this and it seemed that a lot of the touts were Asian students who were hired as they could converse with tourists and try and get them into more expensive places. That is why I thought this was more of an issue they were worried about bad PR from overseas visitors getting ripped off. Not like it doesn't happen to Japanese tourists around the world!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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