BBC reporter held by police while making a documentry about the sexual exploitation of children in Japan

This news is actually a few days old but I only just came across it.

A BBC 3 reporter called Stacey Dooley was held by Japanese police while filming her documentary on the sexual exploitation of children in Japan. She was filming in an area called JK alley in Akihibara, Tokyo, when she was approached by men who told her to stop recording. When she refused to (given that it was a public street) the men got the police involved who detailed the reporter and her crew. These men were most likely pimps or some sort of security and yet the police chose their side over the foreigners filming on a public street.Supossedly both the men and the police asked for the footage to be deleted and she was held for refusing to comply.

The film crew was only held for about two hours so it was likely done more to keep the peace and provide a warning more than anything else. Remember than in Japan ‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down’. Also if you are seen as causing inconvenience or conflict even if you are in the right you will generally be blames. The police may have thought they were doing the right thing by preventing the situation from escalating if the security took matters into their own hands. Then again they may have been paid or have some other sort of agreement. There have long been rumours that the Japanese police intentionally ignore domestically produced meth with the understanding that criminal groups wont bring in drugs like heroin and cocain.I’m not sure how true those rumours are but you could see something similar happening here. The police agree to stop people making trouble if the pimps agree to keep violence and visible problems to a minimum.

The police only held the reporter for two hours which is insanely quick for the japanese police. There is a great blog by a foreigner who was accused of stealing a bike and he was dragged back to the police station several times with specialists coming in from Tokyo to speak with him. Another recent story I head was of an english teacher being detained for two weeks without the police telling his company or family. The company ended up filing a missing persons report because they didn’t know where he was. The police in Japan can hold you for 23 days without charge.

The documentary itself seems well made although is aimed at a very general audience. If you already know a bit about Japan many of the things looked at won’t be new to you. also as it’s quite generally it doesn’t get too far into related issues in japan or how this links to sexual exploitation around the world. If you want a more in-depth look at these issues there are plenty of articles, blogs, books and interviews that have more detail. That said this is a good documentary given its intended audience.

A lot of the things like JK (joshi kosei-high school girls) likely won’t really new to you. JK alley where the reporter was detained is actually fairly well-known. It’s an area in Akihibara where girls stand on the street and offer various services to men willing to pay for them. These services generally aren’t openly sold as being straight up sex although if enough money is offered in the right way it can most likely lead to that. It’s often things like the girls saying particular things, holding hands and offering lap pillows. One of the most common is simply a long walk with the girl. Of course the assumption is that the walk will end at a love hotel.There are all sorts of services related to the JK industry such as massage parlours with happy endings and websites which arrange for long-term paid girlfriend arrangements between young girls and older men. One of the few raids the police actually bothered to do was of a business where men paid to watch underage girls fold paper cranes while showing their underwear.

The JK industry is so large, well established and accepted by those in positions of power that there is very little real will to do anything about it. The documentary was created to see what effect the 2014 law banning child pornography has had but almost from day one people said it wasn’t going to make a difference. A law only changes things if there is a will to actually act on it and as long as nothing is too public them the police seem to have very little will to act.

The JK industry itself has links to the Yakuza and to seemingly mainstream entertainment like AKB48. This is an industry so entrenched that all past attempts to remove it have failed. It often seems like people have given up on really stopping it or making these things illegal. Instead the focus of charities and pressure groups seem to be on either discouraging girls from getting involved or helping them escape. I can’t blame these groups for trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got but at times it feels a bit like blaming the victims.

The BBC documentary is called Young sex for sale in Japan and can be found here on BBC iPlayer but is only available if you are in the UK.

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