More women reporting problems with Tokyo 'host clubs,' non-profit group says

A non-profit group in Tokyo says a growing number of women are reporting problems with 'host clubs' that provide entertainment with male companions called hosts. Some of these women are reportedly charged huge bills and are forced to work in the sex industry to repay their debts.

The group offers advice to women who have fallen into arrears with host clubs in Tokyo's Kabukicho nightlife district. The hosts often temporarily shoulder the women's bills through a pay-later scheme.

The group says it has provided over 200 consultations, mostly for women in their late teens to 20s, or their families, during the past four months, particularly in September and October after the summer vacation.

The group notes that a significant number of the cases involve college students who started campus life in Tokyo this year. It also points out that more young women are apparently visiting these clubs after the recent easing of anti-coronavirus measures in Japan.

The group says that some women have been slapped with a bill of nearly one million yen, or about 6,700 dollars, for one night and were pressured into prostitution or told to work in the sex industry to repay their debt.

The leader of the group, Gen Hidemori, cites malicious cases in which hosts contact women through social media, and invite them to come to their clubs with the promise of an inexpensive entry charge. He says the hosts then encourage their clients to keep spending.

Tokyo police have warned host clubs in the Kabukicho district that forcible methods of debt collection, including prostitution, are illegal.