The following is an English translation of an article from J-Cast News (June 26, 2020) relating to the sex trafficking of more than 750 girls in Japan.
A man and woman were arrested by Osaka Prefectural Police for directing around 750 girls to perform sexually on a pay-per-view website. The unusually high number of victims in the case has attracted attention on Japanese social media.
Why did the girls agree to the live webcasting? We spoke to the public safety division of Osaka prefectural police.
“The arrested couple called the girls ‘performers’ and directed their acts online. Their victims ranged from an unemployed 16-year-old to a woman in her 50s, but the majority were underage. The couple procured as many as 750 victims through referrals from acquaintances, recruitment through social media, and street-based scouting.
According to reports, the arrested woman (age 21) and her presumed husband (age 39) with no fixed address.
The husband was first arrested on 9 April 2020 on obscenity charges.
On 24 January and 5 March 2020, footage of an 18-year-old girl and a 17-year-old highschooler showing their genitals was broadcast live online via the “FC2 Live” website.
The two were then traced to the Osaka apartment of the arrested pair, and were themselves also arrested on obscenity charges.
The couple were subsequently arrested again on 9 June, this time on suspicion of violating the Employment Security Act (soliciting harmful work). This charge relates to the arrested man in November 2017 soliciting a then-19-year-old girl to broadcast obscene acts. The other 750 victims were similiarly recruited between September 2017 and April 2020 and directed to web-stream live sex acts from their homes.
The man, together with his wife, were then arrested a third time on 25 June on suspected violation of Japan’s Child Welfare Law (harmful control) for having a a girl who was 16-years-old at the time live in the Osaka apartment between October 2018 and October 2019 and undertake live-streamed obscene acts on the basis of an income quota of 200,000 yen [around US$1800] per month. The couple have not commented on the charges.
Victims received half of online streaming revenues, and popular girls could earn up to 48000 [around US$450] per day. They were interviewed and then directed in the online streams mainly by the 21-year-old arrested woman.
The male suspect was originally arrested by Osaka police three years ago for similar crimes via the FC2 Live website. Police pursued him again after receiving information of his subsequent activity.Three years ago an 18-year-old girl had been jointly arrested as a co-conspirator, and it is assumed she is the same woman arrested this time, but police cannot confirm this fact because the previously arrested woman was a minor.
As to why 750 victims responded to the recruitment ads, a police spokesperson said, ‘When we raided their homes, one of the girls told us that she responded to the ad because she was out of work in the sex industry due to the Corona virus. She further stated that, ‘since the end of last year, girls in the sex industry have been flowing in to this kind of online work because of the lack of work in the offline sex industry. Other girls said the work allowed them to work when they wanted, and didn’t require dealing with people in real life. The police spokesperson also said some girls want to “have fun and make money,” and since the work was online they had fewer qualms about that kind of sexual work.
According to reports, the site received a total of 317 million yen in revenue between September 2017 and April 2020, and a record high of around 35.5 million yen in the month of March-April 2020, when the Corona infection spread in Japan.
But the police spokesperson emphasised the fact that he had warned the girls that nobody could predict how their footage would be subsequently used and distributed on the internet.
But investigation of the case is difficult because footage of the girls is not necessarily preserved, and so briefs of charges relating to 6 other women are prepared. [translator: victims are still arrested in Japan on ‘obscenity’ charges]