Tokyo is set to crack down on businesses that feature female high school students who offer personalized service to male customers.
Fuelled by the schoolgirl pop culture boom in the 90s, the Japanese fascination with female high schoolers, known as joshikousei (abbreviated as JK), has birthed in the phenomenon of the “JK business.”
To be clear, such personalized services are not sexual in nature but instead may involve customers paying to have a girl sit with him for a chat, have a stroll at a park, or provide a massage service.
While the services mainly offered may seem innocent enough, observers have been expressing concern over the industry’s potential to be the gateway to other illegal practices, particularly prostitution.
In fact, codewords for such arrangements actually exist. Patrons just mention ura opu, which is an abbreviation of ura opushon, or literally “secret options.”
Tokyo’s municipal ordinance is an attempt to put a stop on the practice involving ura opu. The initiative, which will take effect on July 1, seeks to prohibit individuals under the age of 18 from working in JK businesses.
It will be the first time in the country that a legislation specifically targets the JK industry.
JK businesses are identified by the ordinance as those that:
● Offer services in which the worker comes into contact with customers exclusively of the opposite sex.
● Explicitly state that the services are performed by a minor.
● Pose a potential risk of arousal in a customer’s sexual interest towards a minor.
While the initiative is quite commendable, it should be noted that it does not cover massage parlors, hostess bars, and similar businesses where women over the age of 18 act and dress like school girls.