Anthropologist Laura Miller argues in her research that the majority of enjo-kōsai dates consists of groups of girls going with a group of older men to a karaoke bar for several hours and being paid for their time.
Furthermore, in a 1998 survey by the Asian Women's Fund, researchers found that fewer than 10 percent of all high school girls engage in enjo-kōsai and over 90 percent of the girls interviewed attested to feeling uncomfortable with the exchange or purchase of sexual services for money.
Police have requested legal advice from the Department of Justice on their powers to tackle those seeking potential dates in the cyberworld.
Lowcock said it was important to clarify whether internet forums were public places under the law because it would help police pursue those seeking sex services and those offering them online.
The mere use of the word “compensated” implies the girls seek fun and money, rather than being victims of sexual trafficking, said Nito, who heads a non-profit organisation, Colabo, that provides support to such young women.
“There is a notion the girls are guilty because they willingly sold their bodies,” she said, adding that the phrase “compensated dating” was unique to Japan.
“At that moment, I understood what it means to feel like I’d rather die,” wrote a young Japanese woman, recalling the trauma she suffered as a pre-teen, over having sex with a man to earn funds to repay what she thought was a debt.
The testimonial was part of an exhibit, including photos and artwork, in the Japanese capital that sheds light on an underground industry known as Japanese men’s fascination with high school girls fuels demand for such services, and exhibit organiser Yumeno Nito said many people have the wrong idea about the girls themselves.
Police have also mounted an operation online to keep an eye on internet forums and smartphone apps that seem to be a front for this area of the sex trade.The job soon escalated into touching and kissing, wrote the woman, who later went to work at a brothel for higher pay.“If there are people who are thinking of entering the business, I would want them to stop immediately,” she added.Police are scrambling to overcome a gap in the law that stops them prosecuting people who use internet forums and smartphone apps to solicit compensated dates.Compensated dating is a form of prostitution in which the buyer and the seller first go on a date before having sex in return for money or gifts.