In Japanese, a ticket scalper is called a dafuya, a word created -- as is often done in underworld slang -- by reversing the syllables for fuda (a ticket or token) and adding the suffix ya to indicate a business or profession.
According to Asahi Geino (March 21), ticket scalping used to be a fairly lucrative profession in Japan, and in recent years it's still been possible for them to earn profits reselling tickets to fans determined to watch sexy female golf pros like South Korea's Shin-ae An or Japan's Momoka Miura whack the small white ball around a course.
"The tournament sponsor or organizer distributes tickets, and some customers grab a bunch of them for resale," relates Mr A, a veteran scalper. "But if a popular golfer gets eliminated in an early round, those people are stuck with the tickets and just toss them away. If I pick them up off the ground, it's still possible to make a little money off them because I didn't pay anything for them in the first place. But it's barely worth the trouble."
According to current local laws and ordinances, the act of reselling admission tickets at rail stations or other public places is illegal. However, there's practically nothing to discourage resale via the internet, which is why more of the action has moved there.
"Before, there had been growing complaints from the music industry, but since this spring when ticket sales to next year's Tokyo Olympics began, the issue became more urgent," a crime reporter for a newspaper tells Asahi Geino. "The International Olympic Committee strongly encouraged arrangements that discouraged resale, and after a nonpartisan group of legislators was organized from June 2018, they were able to ram through a new bill in just six months."
The new law aimed at unfair price gouging of tickets to sports events, concerts and so on was passed last Dec 8, and takes effect from June 14 of this year. The law provides for a sentence of one year or longer of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to one million yen.
Regulations had previously existed, but were not as stringent.
"Up to now, a first offense netted you a fine of 200,000 yen; a second offense a fine of 500,000 yen; a third offense a suspended jail term; and a fourth offense jail time," A relates. "From this coming June they'll be able to throw the book at you."
But A said the internet had already moved in, with such sites as "Ticket Camp" enabling people to purchase while bypassing the scalpers.
"This sucked up a lot of the extra tickets until the authorities shut down Ticket Camp on suspicion of trademark violation," says A. "But all that succeeded in doing was encouraging more people to start up new web sites.
"Meanwhile the net has widened against people like me. During the soccer World Cup in 2002, nobody bothered the scalpers working outside Saitama Stadium. But last year when a guy I know tried to resell tickets there, he found himself surrounded by cops, including undercover cops wearing soccer uniforms, who placed him under arrest."
A's colleague, identified in the article as Mr B, hasn't had any better luck peddling sumo tickets.
"During the halcyon days when the Hanada brothers ruled sumo, I made over 300,000 yen selling just one ticket," he recalled."Once the unsold sumo tickets got circulated via the wrestlers' support groups or the sumo concessionaires, but now I understand the yakuza have horned in. It really hurt after the old sales channel got turned off."
Clearly the deck is being reshuffled, and future prospects don't seem very bright for those in the scalping profession. Mr A says he'll take a wait-and-see attitude, but should the crackdown get more heavy handed, he may have no choice but to quit for good.
By the time of next year's Olympics, such operators may no longer be plying their trade.© Japan Today