Homeless schoolgirls desperate for places to stay have taken to offering their bodies to men in exchange for lodging, and specialist sites overflow with plaintive pleas for a temporary home: “Please someone help me! I’ve only got ¥200!”, “Could someone put me up for a week, please?”, “I’m prepared for it…”
There are numerous sites offering a place for such girls, and the men who would keep them, to meet. The men are known as 泊め男 / to-o, and naturally expect something in return for putting the girls up.
The girls who frequent such boards cooperate by sharing information on just which men are suitable keepers. Generally stays are short, lasting a few weeks to a month, after which the girl finds a new patron.
Not all such encounters go well. One girl was ordered to work for her rent after moving in, and was forced to work as a tout. With her next keeper she met an even worse fate, being imprisoned for over a month whilst being the victim of violence from numerous men.
When she tried to escape, she was spitefully punished by the man, who carved up her arms and legs with a knife, scarring her permanently. “I can’t wear a swimsuit anymore,” she laments, but is still resolute in refusing to return to her family.
Each year some 5,000 children run away from home, though it is not clear how many do so under these circumstances, or what the true figure is.
Authorities compare the sites to the recently restricted schoolgirl dating sites, saying they offer similar opportunities for young girls with loose morals and men with lolicon proclivities to mix, although runaway pickup sites fall outside of the legal scope of those sites.