Sex for Sale: The Role of Culture and Demand in Japan's Human Trafficking Industry
Kim, Diana S
The international sex trafficking trade is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that reaps enormous profits from the exploitation of the human body, where human beings become nothing more than a vendible good. Sex work is not unique to Japan, however what sets Japan apart from the rest of the world is its established sex industry that takes place within the public sphere despite its illegality. Although the topic of human trafficking has recently garnered greater attention and responses within scholarship, related literature has experienced only marginal developments over time, leaving the magnitude of the problem unknown. Prior studies of human trafficking in Japan have primarily examined the experiences of female victims and implications for domestic policy. However, neither in Japan nor overseas has there been adequate study of the demand for the sex trade, including men who purchase the services of women in the sex industry, and this topic is crucial in understanding the full scope of the issue. This paper expands the notion that the sex industry and human trafficking should be understood as a culturally embedded problem within Japan. This paper also exposes the gaps that exist between government discourse and lack of policy action, which has enabled a market economy with minimal risk of punishment and rife with great demand for the sexual services of women. I demonstrate that Japanese laws and public perceptions are trapped in fixed interpretations regarding sex and prostitution that have undergone insignificant changes over time and allow for human trafficking in Japan to continue at alarming rates.
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