Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prostitution in Japan is Illegal but the Police Often Look the Other Way! Prostitution Should Not be Illegal!

My best friend, Ken, just went to a birthday party at Yoshiwara. Lucky guy. Yoshiwara is the traditional "Red light district" in Tokyo that is full of the, er, "prostitution parlors" No! I mean, the "health massage" parlors.

Yeah. "Health massage" that's it.

 Ukiyoe print of Japanese prostitute preparing for a client (circa 1765).

This is a blog post about prostitution in Japan. I've wanted to write about this subject for a very long time. I don't mean "prostitution in Japan" I mean prostitution in general. 

Folks, in Japan or any other place on earth, the utter notion that prostitution should be illegal is complete and total nonsense.

The idea that prostitution is illegal is ridiculous. What two consenting adults want to do is none of your business or mine. If some guy wants to pay some woman for consensual sex, then what do you or I care? It's none of our business. I certainly don't want to pay taxes to stop some guy (who I don't even know) from meeting with some other guy or girl (that I don't even know) and having sex. Who cares what they do?

In Japan, prostitution is illegal on the books, but it is going on, everywhere, even as I write this post. In fact, right after the big March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster of 2011, sex-services were some of the first to get back into business and get the economy back on track.

Sex-services provide a much needed service to society. Please refer to Sex Services in Japan First to get Back to Business After Earthquake:

Well, hats off to the world's oldest profession. It seems that right after the Tohoku disaster,  sex- related  service industries were the first back to business. 

The excellent Tokyo Reporter has the story for us:


Even the horrifying death and devastation that struck northeastern Japan on March 11 could not suppress the human sex drive for long. Friday (June 10) reports that sex businesses were among the first to recover, many as soon as one week after the disaster.
“I was back at my job on March 18,” says Kitty-san, a 21-year-old employee of a delivery health (out-call sex service) service named Ainori in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. “From the day we reopened demand was even higher than it was before the disaster. Many customers had suffered from the catastrophe, and had even lost family members. They justified their urges, saying they ‘sought psychological relief’ or ‘wanted to be consoled.’ 

Prostitution is one of the oldest professions on earth. No amount of legislation is going to change that. Like I wrote, when two consenting adults want to meet and have sex, then that is none of anyone else's business. Whether money changes hands is also not important.

Ask any guy if they've ever spent big money on a date in the hopes of getting a girl in the sack! Ask any employee if they trade their time for money at work. 

Who is it to judge what is morally correct or not. Hell, Jesus hung around with prostitutes and drunks... Sounds like a fun crowd to me!

And why can't a person sell what is theirs? Be it time or their body (I do not subscribe to the idea that prostitution is selling one's body. Prostitution is selling one's time). The only things that any one of us truly own, without any argument, is our bodies and our time. Those are two things which we, as free adults, have the inalienable right to do with as we please as long as we don't bother, burden or interfere with others. 

If a person can sell, say, a car they own, then a person can surely sell their time (or, "body" as some claim)* 

The idea that this sort of legislation of morality can and should be controlled is madness. And how can we be sure that a money exchange is occurring? By police entrapment? Oh, yes, I'm sure that's what we are paying taxes for. So that the police can go undercover as prostitutes to entrap guys who need some kicks.

Nonsense.

I didn't always think this way. I used to think that prostitution should be illegal. But a good Japanese friend of mine once pointed out to me, "Prostitution in Japan is illegal, but if two people fall in love for fifteen minutes, what's to stop them from falling in love?" When he first told me this, I thought it was completely crazy nonsense, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the nanny-state morality that most people have up their arses is what the really complete nonsense is here.

Prostitution should be legalized. Period. (Let me also give a disclaimer here that I have never paid for prostitution services and have no interest in them. But I am certainly not interested in paying taxes so that the police can spend hundreds of millions of yen running sting operations to bust prostitution parlors!)

The biggest place in Japan where prostitution is traditionally going on, and everyone knows it, yet the police look the other way is Yoshiwara, near Asakusa. Like I said, prostitution in Japan is "illegal" but, well, like I also said, "if two people meet for 15 minutes and fall in love, what's to stop them?"

Wikipedia says about Yoshiwara:


Yoshiwara (吉原) was a famous Akasen district (red-light district) in Edo, present-day TōkyōJapan.
In the early 17th century, there was widespread male and female prostitution throughout the cities of Kyoto, Edo, and Osaka. To counter this, an order ofTokugawa Hidetada of the Tokugawa shogunate restricted prostitution to designated city districts. These districts were Shimabara for Kyōto (1640), Shinmachifor Ōsaka (1624–1644) and Yoshiwara for Edo (1617). The main reason for establishing these nightless cities was the Tokugawa shogunate's trying to prevent the nouveau riche chōnin (townsmen) from political intrigue.

The 1923 Tokyo Earthquake fires destroyed this town. Then, the US air force bombed the hell out of it during the war (what for?) so it is a shadow of what it used to be. And, you won't find it on any maps. But, I've found it for you so that when you visit Japan so can go see it for, er, "research purposes"... Or, who knows, it might even be "healthy."
Prostitution is illegal, but the police often look the other way. Especially in Yoshiwara. These places are not called "prostitution parlors" they are called "Soapland"... Sounds like good, clean fun, no? Isn't that hilarious? And so Japanese. I love this place.


HOW TO GET THERE: To go to Yoshiwara, go to Minowa Station on the subway Hibiya Line (two stops past Ueno station heading away from Akihabara) and take Exit #3. Walk left (south-east) on Meiji Dori until you come to a big fork in the road. Take the right fork (not Meiji Dori) and continue on for 13 short blocks. That intersection is called Yoshiwara Daimon, and is where the old gate used to be. Turn right and you’ll be in the district. If you need directions, ask for Senzoku 4-chome.


*Prostitution is not selling one's body. Slave trading is selling human bodies or trading human body parts. Those are a different subject for a later time. 

19 comments:

Marc Sheffner said...

Purely technical question: if prostitution isn't selling one's body, what is it selling then? Your time?

I'm sure you've read "Defending the undefendable" by Walter Block, but let me plug it for your readers who like this blog-post and might not have heard of this excellent book: Block examines a whole bunch of "low-lifes" (blackmailers, pimps, drug-dealers, ticket touts, etc) and their sleazy practices from the same angle that Mike takes towards prostitution. The purpose is not to encourage you to take up these occupations or avail yourself of their services, but to illustrate the same point Mike makes: what two consensual people do (as long as they are not harming anyone else) is none of anyone else's business, including the government's.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Thank you Marc!
I think prostitution is selling time much the same as punching a clock at McDonald's and getting paid measley wages for a few hours work.

Anonymous said...

I'd give those girls 10 stars, if I could.

Andy "In Japan" said...

When I look at the pictures of the Edo Period prostitutes from 150 or so years ago, it isn't the slightest bit arousing.

So 150 years from now, will men look at these cheese cake photos that Mike san was kind enough to post and then conclude that women of our era weren't sexy?

100% guaranteed, if prostitution was legal, the girls would be safer and the prices would be lower. Thanks to government, the girls can easily be abused and their clients are at greater risk of picking up disease or being cheated.

Andrew Joseph said...

My gawd... those two cuties... if they had red hair I would leave your wife for one of them.

Andrew Joseph said...

And... on the topic... I used to date a prostitute for a few months... or rather a high class escort. Let's face it... if there wasn't a demand, there wouldn't be anyone selling themselves.
legalize it and tax it. Let the gov't get its cut. we'll see how long it takes for the country to get out of debt!

Rafa said...

Agree.Prostitution is not a problem.But pimps are.
In some countries (like Brazil, where I live, or Philippines)prostitution and slave trading are narrowly connected.That sucks...

Marko said...

I somewhat agree with your post on this subject when it is realy about two adults doing whatever they like.
But what position to take on prostitution when there is a case of abuse of women (sometinmes underage) that includes things like human trafficink etc. In this case we don't have a situation of two consentual adults as one is very often doing this against her or his will.
Maybe this is not often the case in Japan, but in some other countries it certainly is.
So - how to look at prostitution when we know that in many cases we have victim involved? And do you think that making it legal would remove the middlemen (pimp in this case) and then we would have only professionals who then could never be considered victims?

Mark Davis said...

There are two kinds of female prostitutes: long-term (those that go after assets) and short-term (those that prefer immediate cash flow). The long-term asset pros have used their political influence to squelch competition from the short-term cash flow pros. Most men don't care at all.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Dear Marko,
If prostitution weren't illegal then there would be no pimps. The government would regulate and tax it. Human trafficking and prostitution are two totally different worlds.
Your argument doesn't hold up to scrutiny as both are illegal now, yet the things you talk about are going on right now.
Anyway, it is illegal now. There are victims how do you explain this?

mikeintokyorogers said...

PS: Just like the drug wars. No illegal drugs, no drug wars and drug cartels. Pretty simple to figure out, I think.

Marko said...

Mike,

I agree in certain extent. I posed that question with that in mind - would legalization remove criminal elements.
I also think that it would, and that if it get legalized then there should be strickt control on how it would effect minors. It should definitely be tougher control than with alchocol :)
I think that solution seems simple but that there are many practical details that society should keep in mind when it would go towards legalization.
In my mind drugs are much more dangerous (serious drugs, not weed). You can argue that everyone should be able to do what they want to do. And in principle that is right. But how will you make drug producers to be totaly transparent regarding the effect of drugs, especially when promoting to minors and young adults?
I'm writing this only as discussion, I have to admit that I still don't have strong stand and opinion on these matters, but it is for sure an interesting topic.

Best
Marko

Anonymous said...

In theory legalizing should drive out the criminal elements, thats exactly the reason why we have done so here in Germany. But something went wrong. Now the police needs considerable evidence to go in to a bordel to check on the girls and this has given the pimps much more freedom to do what they want. Prostitution is certainly not a self regulating market but is now under nearly complete control of international human trafficking rings. Its somewhat of an open secret that since the legalization even more trafficking and exploitation takes place, but the police has to sit by and watch with ther hands tied as they can not simply storm in there anymore checking everyones papers on suspicion of prostitution.
I am for the legalization itself, but you have to make sure to create laws that give the police other means of observing and in times controlling the business.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Thanks Anonymous, but laws are the opposite of freedom. Think about that.... And, I don't think that it is even remotely desirable that police can break into an establishment without due cause and ask to see people's papers.

dutchguy said...

I am from the Netherlands and live in Amsterdam. We are well known for our liberal attitude to soft drugs and the sex industry and prostitution has been legalized for many years and tax is paid to the government. However, making prostitution legal did NOT eliminate the existance of pimps. Also, 70% of our prostitudes were forces into being prostitudes. In other words, "mikeintokyrogers" is proven to be wrong. I am not saying it should be illegal, but it is very difficult to prevent abuse, even when legalizing it. For some reason, it is intimately connected to abuse of women.

Unknown said...

Pimps are not a problem according to the book "Superfreakonomics". Girls with pimps make more and get beat up less often. Rafa, do you have data which proves otherwise?

Jimbo said...

I think it's quite ironic that the same US soldiers that bombed these brothels probably helped fund their reconstruction during the occupation.

Jamal jaber said...

If you close your eyes, give your brainy arguments a 2 minute break and just listen to your heart... (as a great prophet once taught)... would your heart tell you that prostitution is good?... (er)... Good for your sister? Good for your daughter? for your auntie? or is it just good for some other female you don't want -or justify that you don't have- to know anything about?

That's the question. Is prostitution just fine for everyone (your female relatives included) or just fine for some other no name girl who happens to have a great body! (trafficking business thinks the same)

mikeintokyorogers said...

Figure it out. You have no business telling any adult woman what to do with her life. Get off your high horse.