Sex Work

Authored by: Toru Takeoka

The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138895201
eBook ISBN: 9781315179582
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315179582-18

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Abstract

This chapter outlines the shape of sex work in Japan by focusing on intranational and international contexts. It begins with a brief definition of sex work, followed by a historical description stretching from the Edo period to contemporary Japan. The Meiji Restoration and WWII are two watershed events for sex work during this period. Legal regulation schemes, introduced in the latter half of the twentieth century, have determined the current form of Japan’s sex industry. It is noteworthy that, unlike working on the streets, which is the focus of sex work studies in other countries, in Japan, working in “clubs” of some kind has been prevalent; a practice known as enjo-kōsai in the 1990s, however, serves as a curious exception. Recently, the sex industry in Japan has seen changes in human rights protection. One example are the apprehensions of pornographic movie producers resulting from the charges made to police by women claiming to be coerced into performing in pornographic productions. Another development worth noting is the improved anti-trafficking regulation, influenced by Japan’s identification as a problematic country in regard to human trafficking in a recent US report. After a review of recent research investigating various forms of sex work, the chapter concludes by providing three potentially productive research directions.

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