• Yomiuri Editorial

Racking Up Expensive Tabs: Malicious Business Practices by Male Host Club Workers Unacceptable

Young women racking up expensive tabs for food and drink at host clubs offering male companionship, then being forced into prostitution to pay off the bills, is becoming a social problem. Such malicious business practices by these male hosts must not be left unchecked.

Male hosts coax female customers to order expensive drinks, which, if they are unable to pay for, are put on tabs, a method that has become conspicuous. There are women who ran up tabs owing more than ¥10 million, and some hosts demanded they pay off the bills through prostitution.

In the Kabukicho district of Tokyo in September, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested on the spot 35 women on suspicion of violating the Anti-Prostitution Law as they allegedly were waiting on customers for prostitution. Seventy percent of them were in their 20s, and many of them cited the need to pay off bills at host clubs, among other reasons.

In one case, a female high school student had to repeatedly engage in prostitution as required by a host, paying ¥1.7 million to the host club in a few months. It is unacceptable that malicious hosts take advantage of the romantic feelings of young women with little social experience and exploit them.

This sort of problem involving hosts is also occurring outside Tokyo in other large urban areas. With the COVID-19 pandemic brought under control, host clubs that had once lost their clientele are becoming active again.

The government and the industry should take measures such as setting a maximum allowable tab. The National Police Agency has announced a policy to strengthen its crackdown on host clubs. Cases such as those in which female customers are offered prostitution as a way to pay off their bills need to be dealt with strictly by using the full force of laws and regulations.

The police suspect that criminal syndicates are behind the increase in the number of host clubs that engage in such malicious business practices. The hope is for the entire picture to be revealed, including the systematic involvement of these groups.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has requested the government to take thorough measures to prevent related damage. It is also necessary to debate the issue in the Diet to alter the rampant business practices of charging unpayable bills on tabs.

Recently, a woman on social media calling herself “Itadaki Joshi Riri-chan” was indicted for defrauding middle-aged men out of large sums of cash.

The woman had given the defrauded money to hosts. The damage was believed to be a total of ¥300 million. It appears her connection with hosts has helped trigger new crimes.

Many women who constantly visit host clubs might feel that they have no place in society. In some cases, they are unable to escape from the host clubs as hosts express sympathy to them in a skillful manner.

With the lowering of the age of adulthood, 18-year-olds are now also responsible for any contracts they enter into.

It is necessary to teach them at home and at school that malicious intent lurks in society. It is also vital to create an environment for healthy development through such measures as fostering the habit of reading books, rather than just using smartphones and social media.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2023)