South China Morning Post/Connie Kurtew | 18006
The South China Morning Post has interviewed Ian Thomas Ash, the producer of a new documentary, “Boys for Sale”, which looks at male prostitution in Japan. The film has won four film festival awards this year in Los Angeles, South Africa, Mexico and Ecuador.
The film shows the dangerous living and working conditions for young gay men who have been drawn into prostitution in Japan, and seem unaware of the risks they are running.
The capital’s gay quarter (of 2-Chome) has about 800 businesses that meet the demand of a clientele still largely underground in Japanese society. One of the owners interviewed for the documentary claimed at least two politicians were regular visitors to the district. As well as the bars, dance clubs and sex shops, urisen parlours offer a service similar to Japan’s heterosexual hostess clubs.
Ash said it was impossible to get an accurate grasp of the number of young men working as male prostitutes in and around 2-chome, as many operate online and are “delivered” to customers, but 1,000 seemed a reasonable estimate, according to Ash.
Some of the scenes in the film had to be animated because they were impossible to film.
Urisen visitors are offered a drink and invited to choose from one of the young men available. Other bars offer “menus” with pictures of the men. Once the customer has made his choice, the man joins his table and is bought a drink.
For every 30 minutes they spend getting to know each other, the customer is charged around 500 yen. But if the customer wishes to take the new relationship further, he can take him to a private room or a nearby “love hotel” for sex in exchange for money.
Japanese law does not recognise prostitution between men so no laws are being broken. The film makers ended being very concerned over the healthcare of the young men, who did not seem to be aware at all of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.