Police raiding a soapland which advertised itself as providing “under-20s” after receiving a child prostitution tip found only old women, but arrested everyone anyway.
Kobe police acted on an anonymous tip-off telling them that a local “soapland” operating under the name of “PROUD” was employing minors.
After raiding the premises, they arrested the 43-year-old manager on charges of knowingly providing a booth for the purposes of allowing a 44-year-old woman to prostitute herself to a 43-year-old man. He admits the charges.
Although the establishment’s homepage promises that “all our girls are under 20,” police report finding only 5 female employees in their 30s and 40s at the premises.
Police also confiscated a list of the establishment’s employees and are investigating its business practices.
Japanese brothels are normally allowed to do business unmolested if they keep up a steady stream of “registration” fees to police whilst keeping out of trouble and ostensibly complying with whatever regulations police decide to impose on them.
“Soaplands,” so named because in the 1980s Turks became annoyed at them formerly being known as “Turkish baths,” penetrate loopholes in Japan’s pathetically erratically enforced anti-prostitution laws by only providing “non-penetrative” sexual services, typically involving inflatable mattresses and soap in a bathroom setting.
In 2010, a police whitepaper showed 1,238 soaplands were registered with police, and they are one of the more common and least disreputable of Japan’s vast hierarchy of brothel types.
There is a distinct lack of surprise amongst Japanese sex crime watchers:
“A story as hopeless as this is unusual…”
“This happens all the time.”
“So he saw the homepage, thought he could get with a girl in her twenties, went there and found only old hags, then reported them for employing minors, I see…”
“Is there even a crime here?”
“They could change the charges from ‘child prostitution’ to ‘fraud.’”
“MILF-lovers might like this joint though.”
“That 43-year-old guy: ‘She’s the same age as me!’”
“Can’t you get your money back if they pull something like this?”
“Scary people will come out from inside the shop.”
“Revenge of a disgruntled customer.”
“The raid itself was the criminal act here.”
“If you’re going to arrest people, you should arrest those old whores as well.”
“The tipster was probably one of the police angry at being swindled.”
“Now can they do something about the covers of AVs?”
“If they can arrest them for this, then they can bust all soaplands, can’t they? Not that I’ve ever been to one or even care.”
“They just arrested the proprietor to save face, didn’t they?”
“A story with no downsides.”