The sex industry has something to do with gangsters, or yakuza.
I think most Japanese think so.
What do you think about your home country?
To come right to the point, Japan’s sex business has a lot to do with yakuza.
However, it’s not a big deal. Other industries also have a lot or more to do with them.
Entertainment industry comes with many rumors. In Japan, programs to uncover behind-the-scene stories sometimes hit screens. I myself watched one.
He was a journalist. His co-worker was about to reveal a news story about a famous actress. One day, the journalist was abducted, taken to somewhere he didn’t know, and interrogated about the actress. They released him three days later. He called his office, and his boss told him, “Take a week off.” When he got back to the workplace, the co-worker had gone.
I have some friends who have worked in the construction industry. They told me a variety of stories about yakuza.
For example, major companies often hold bidding when they decide which subsidiary to leave work to. He said almost all of such bidding is set up. You can’t get anything without gangsters’ background.
The same goes with restaurant business. It’s more about real estate than about eating and dining. “To do business in my territory, you have to pay for it.” You need to pay for using their place.
Even if no real estate is involved, such as food vans, they find any reasons to get money from people who do business within their areas.
I would often visit a food van which served great ramen noodle. A man operated it every night. I really liked it. We made friends with each other and began to talk about ourselves. He complained one day.
On the first day he started operating, nothing happened. On the second day, several yakuzas came up to him, yelling, “Who allowed you to do this?” He had gone through all the proper and necessary legal procedures. Still, they insisted, “We take control of here.” “You have to pay money to carry on.” He decided to ignore them at first. He was forced to follow what they said at the end, because they resorted to business obstruction.
Most of offline businesses that have been around for dozens of years have something to do with gangsters. Those that don’t are not money-making, or new, online ones such as engineering or application development.
Sex establishments can run only in limited areas, many of which are what you call red-light districts. Naturally, they’re under control of yakuza. They put their foot not only in real estate but also in operating licenses.
Old-established types of clubs like soapland or hakoheru can’t be licensed anew. If you want to open a new one, you need to buy or rent an existing permit. Here again, they cut in.
To summarize, you have to pay an additional money. If you don’t, they come in the way.
Recently, law has been becoming tougher and tougher on gangsters. Fewer news reports about them are found these days than before.
The only kind of sex club that can be opened anew is deriheru, or outcall agencies. It doesn’t have front desks. They accept orders or reservations via phone or e-mail and dispatch women to private rooms.
A lot of such entrepreneurs are unconscious of yakuza.
An acquaintance of mine told me this. He had a friend who had just began operating an outcall club. One day, a scary-looking guy in a suit visited his office. He didn’t intimidate him with harsh words. He just request “a protection fee” in a businesslike tone. With the payment, the guy would promise to protect him from unexpected troubles.
The friend had just began, so he actually couldn’t afford to pay any. He explained his situation. The guy left without saying anything. Several months have passed, and nothing has happened so far.
The shop I first worked for belonged to one of the biggest groups in Japan. The manager once told me, “We have difficulty making ends meet every month, majorly because we have to pay 3,000,000 yen to the headquarters no matter what.”
I think that is a lot. Do you? Rumor had it the steep price included protection fee.
Another shop I worked for was a small business. It paid 1000,000 yen every month to a local gangster in the name of adverting cost. The CEO take the money with him to directly hand it to them.
It’s not a matter of good or bad. Most industries have something to do with yakuza. I think that’s the way it is in Japan.