40 billion dollars a year, why Japan’s folklore industry is the world’s first
Japan is one of the most developed countries in Asia, but since the burst of the economic bubble in the 1990s, Japan’s development has entered a 20-year-long period of stagnation. The first 10 years after the crisis was called the “employment glacial period”, in which young people basically had difficulty finding formal jobs, many young people were struggling at the poverty line, and the suicide rate in Japan remained high.
As a result, many young Japanese girls had to go into the “folklore industry”.
The so-called “folklore industry” is the “ porn industry “, including pornographic films, sex and other erotic industries. In some people’s perception, even bathing, singing and dancing and other industries with certain subtle rules are also included.
But do not underestimate the influence of these businesses in Japan, Japan’s “ folklore industry “ annual output of $ 40 billion, supporting millions of people in the cracks of society. There are few countries in the modern world that have made the “folklore industry” a national specialty and spread it around the world.
On the other hand, Japan’s sex industry has also plunged a large number of women into the abyss. However, the Japanese government’s legislation is not binding on these industries, and it is almost like letting the “folklore industry” develop.
Under this trend, the number of people working in the Japanese “folklore industry” has been increasing year after year, and the social culture is becoming more and more open, some women from good families want to go to “part-time” to earn extra money, and some college students even make it a career plan to be a “vulgar woman”. Some college students even make it their career plan to be a “vulgar girl”.
So how did the Japanese “folklore industry” come about? Why has Japan’s culture become more and more open in recent centuries? What impact has the industry had on modern Japan?
I. The Japanese “ folklore industry” that grew up from sailing
Ancient Japan was not a morally decadent and open society. According to the Book of Wei, the Japanese “women were not lustful or jealous. The people of the country did not steal and there were few disputes.”
Later, Buddhism was introduced to Japan, and Japanese society became a serious Buddhist country, and the people of the country rarely ate meat. Although there were official brothels in Japan at that time, it was a punishment system in feudal society and was often used to dispose of the families of prisoners. As for the private sector, there were no large-scale brothels or similar facilities.
The great development of the Japanese sex industry actually came after the advent of the Great Age of Navigation, when the sea trade became increasingly busy, and after the 15th century, Chinese, Korean, and European merchants frequently traveled to and from Japan, and many sailors needed not only to purchase living goods on the Japanese coast, but also to relax and have fun. As a result, in Nagasaki, Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other cities in Japan, there were hotels that served overseas sailors, and there were women who provided escort services for a fee, which were then called “travel girls”.
Most of the “travel girls” came from poor farming families, and a few were children of criminals who had no way to survive in society and had to sell their bodies.
However, in the early days of opening up, the Japanese Shogunate discriminated against the girls, who were kept in brothels outside the city and were not allowed to enter the city, and the officials collected taxes from them. However, as an island nation, Japan’s ports were busy all year round, and the “folklore industry” developed over the centuries.
At the end of the 19th century, around the time of the Meiji Restoration, Japan officially banned prostitution as a sign of transition to a civilized country. But these bans were not binding on the people, and prostitution had become a class in Japan, a way of life for unemployed and single women, and they and their families depended on it for a living.
Finally, the Meiji Emperor saw that the “folklore industry” could not be banned among the people, so he opened it completely and collected taxes from these industries to expand the national treasury.
II. The government banned it repeatedly, and the “folklore industry” became a feature of Japan after World War II.
During the Meiji period, Japan was under pressure from the Qing Empire and the Russian Empire. The Emperor wanted to enrich the country and strengthen the army, but the Japanese government lacked revenue, so it sent a large number of prostitutes overseas.
According to statistics, the Meiji government sent more than one million prostitutes to the South Seas, and the remittances from these prostitutes selling sex overseas became the first money for Japan’s powerful army.
These women were nicknamed “ からゆきさん “ or “Nanyang Sister” and were mostly from the southern part of Japan and were organized to sell sex in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and India before they were 20 years old. Later in the United States, there were also “Nanyang Sister” in Hawaii, California, and even South America.
Later in the 20th century, this group was also revered by the Japanese as the “Maiden Army,” and the foreign exchange they earned allowed Japan to build a powerful army that defeated the Qing Empire in the First Sino-Japanese War.
The thinker Fukuzawa Yukichi once said, “Japan relied on two things against the Qing, guns and women’s armies.”
It is extremely rare in the world for a country to let women prostitute themselves to earn money for the military, but the Japanese are not ashamed of it, but use it to boast of their strong national cohesion.
After the end of World War I, Japan became a “victorious country”, and in order to make the European powers look up to them, the Japanese Empire began to ban prostitution and stopped sending prostitutes overseas, and the era of the “Southern Sister” came to an end.
From this time until the end of World War II, Japan was at war, and the normal economic life in the country was affected, and the folklore industry was not much better. Many women were even recruited by the Japanese army as “comfort women” and formed troops to go all over Asia to carry out comforting activities. Later, the Japanese army directly coaxed good women to join these troops, and some of the soldiers’ family members were also unknowingly turned into military prostitutes, the latter of which had triggered protests within the Japanese army.
It was not until the end of World War II that Japan welcomed a large number of American occupation troops. The Japanese government, in order to let the “conquerors” not harass the good women, only restarted the folklore industry, specifically for the American troops to open entertainment venues. At that time, the Japanese government used a red line to delineate an area in which bathing places and restaurants could sell sex, serving only Americans. During this period, about 40–50,000 prostitutes served American troops, which did reduce American military sex crimes and gave birth to a number of mixed-race children.
In 1948, after the massive withdrawal of American troops, the Japanese government introduced the Law for the Suppression of Customary Business and closed the brothels, vowing to wash away the national shame. But a more serious problem occurred, just like the one the Meiji Emperor encountered back then, and a large number of women lost their jobs as a result. Not only including prostitutes, but also many women who escorted alcoholic beverages, baths, and massages, lost their livelihoods.
Therefore, in the private sector, private prostitution was still widespread, and the police did not ask questions.
In 1956, Japan became a country where prostitution was completely banned by law with the introduction of the Act on the Prevention of Sexual Harlotry. Despite Japan’s strict legal regulation of the vice industry, there was still underground trade in the private sector.
According to incomplete statistics, there were more than 120,000 prostitutes in Japan at that time, and hundreds of thousands of people, including the families behind them, were counted as “dependents of the folklore industry”.
In order to maintain social stability, the law was later amended to stipulate that “the law shall not affect the rights of the nationals” and that “soliciting or introducing women for sale in public places is prohibited, and inducing women to sell sex is prohibited. However, the act of prostitution itself is not restricted.
Therefore, many Japanese stores do not advertise sex services but continue to open their business by pairing sex services with other services and avoiding the supervision of the law. The world-famous bubble bath became popular after that.
III. The truth about Japan’s “ folklore industry” is discrimination against women and poverty
At the end of the 20th century, the Japanese economy went into explosive growth and the pornography industry grew rapidly, with prostitutes making money every day, allowing more people to enter the industry. Japanese pornographic escorts also expanded to other Asian countries and even Europe and America, becoming a specialty industry that influenced the development of the entertainment industry in these regions.
Organizations such as adult hotels, adult cinemas, one-night stands clubs, and paid escorts have sprung up, and the adult movie industry, which has since risen to prominence, has become the growth point of the Japanese folklore industry in the 21st century.
During the bubble economy, Japan was immersed in paper and gold until the bubble burst in the early 1990s, when the Japanese economy came to a standstill, businesses went bankrupt, young people lost their jobs, and the marriage and fertility rates began to decline.
Japanese society was already full of discrimination against women, and after the economic crisis, Japanese companies hired far fewer people and hired even fewer women.
Eventually, even educated women may hit a wall in the workplace, and a large number of women without education and family backgrounds either take low-end, strenuous jobs or have to hope to marry someone else.
But the economic downturn has increased the pressure on men to marry, and many men are reluctant to get married, so in the end these women with nothing to do have to sell their bodies.
Ultimately, this has led to a strange phenomenon in Japanese society.
No matter how bad the economy is, the porn industry is always booming, and the red light districts all over Japan are brightly lit in times of economic crisis, and men who are not doing well in their careers need more entertainment, and the volume of the vulgar industry has actually expanded several times in the face of adversity.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Japan’s AV movies rose to become the first in Asia, monopolizing the entire Asian market. the reason for the rise of AV was actually because the vulgar industry had a surplus of “labor” and the income of the physical stores was not as high as the money made from filming.
After 2010, Japanese AV became a world-class business, employing hundreds of thousands of people and leading the world in both production and quality.
But behind this boom is actually the tragedy of a large number of housewives, unemployed women, and college students. Only a very few of them are filmed voluntarily, the others are coaxed or have no choice but to enter the industry because they are pressured by debt.
However, after the folklore industry became a feature of society, Japanese young people who have been exposed to this culture have also changed their thinking.
In Japan, underage girls began to sell their bodies as a means of earning money, and high school and even junior high school students are using compensated sex as a way to earn pocket money.
In addition to selling their bodies directly, they also play with, chat with, and serve bath, this industry in Tokyo, Osaka and other places is very famous, Westerners even come from far away to experience it.
Nowadays, Japan is basically laissez-faire for the vulgar industry, especially in the last two years, the epidemic outbreak, the recession in various industries, the number of women joining the vulgar industry has increased greatly, and some housewives even conceal their families to sell sex in exchange for living expenses.
As for the moral issues involved, it’s hard for me to evaluate it, what do you think？
I am a non-native English speaker and a slow writer. I would like to complete one in-depth article every two weeks and 1–2 articles per week. If you think it’s not bad, please give me a like and follow me, it will encourage me to continue.