Police have arrested the CEO and 39 male employees of a soapland chain which employed 635 girls and banked $125 million over the last 2 years, after they were deemed to have fell foul of an obscure zoning technicality.
Police arrested the 67-year-old CEO of Tokyo-based “Sun World Holdings” along with 39 male employees on suspicion of violating prostitution control laws. They have announced they will be prosecuting 21 of them.
According to police, the company had 635 female employees (none of whom faced any police action) and had generated approximately $125,000,000 (10 billion yen) in revenue over the past two and a half years.
The arrest stems from a single charge of knowingly providing prostitution related services on the 27th, which the CEO admits.
As with most brothel-related police actions, the crackdown seem to have been based on an obscure legal technicality – the company operated 8 of its “soapland” brothels in areas which the police had forbidden to brothels (which are required to register with police, and pay them certain undisclosed fees) in 1985.
They had been allowed to continue business in these locations due to their “vested rights” – existing brothels could continue in place, but new establishments were not allowed.
However, the brothel chain in question had conducted a merger with another brothel operator in 2009, and police belatedly decided that the newly merged company, “Orange Group,” had lost its “vested rights” when it started operating under the new structure, making many of establishments illegal and putting it in violation of a number of laws for the period.
Given the belated and rather tortuous nature of the sudden prosecution, there is some suspicion that the protection racket-like relationship police enjoy with brothels broke down behind the scenes, as well as a certain amount of dismay that police would arrest the entire male staff of a company without so much as questioning a single female employee, let alone arresting one.