TV & Radio
Police say human trafficking arrests 'tip of iceberg' (Mainichi Daily News 2005/07/14)
A total of 29 people were apprehended on suspicion of human trafficking violations involving foreign women in the first half of this year, 16 more than during the same period the previous year, a National Police Agency (NPA) report has shown.
NPA officials are aiming to sweep out brokers involved in human trafficking utilizing new laws. However, they fear the reported number of cases could be just "the tip of the iceberg."
Of the 29 people apprehended during the first half of the year, 12 were brokers. Police said a total of 51 victims from eight countries were reported, including 20 from the Philippines, 17 from Thailand, and four from Indonesia.
All of the victims worked as hostesses, and 27 of them had come to Japan with large debts. A total of 24 of the victims had their passports taken from them upon their arrival in Japan.
In order to prevent adult entertainment businesses becoming hotbeds of human trafficking, the National Police Agency has submitted revisions to the Law Regulating Adult Businesses to the Diet.
Under the revision, adult business operators who are convicted of human trafficking violations will be banned from operating such businesses for five years. They will also be required to confirm whether workers have the appropriate qualifications. (Mainichi)
Click here for the original Japanese story
NPA uncovers 29 cases of human trafficking, but report says much more is needed
The Asahi Shimbun
They have been lied to, abused and trapped in the seedy sex industry where defiance is punishable by gang-rapes. And until recently, these foreign women were viewed as lawbreakers, not victims.
Yet the problem of human trafficking continues on a wide scale in Japan, according to a report from nongovernmental organization Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons (JNATIP).
Police and government officials have heightened efforts to eradicate this problem, which has become an international embarrassment for the country.
But their moves so far have not made a dent, JNATIP said.
The National Police Agency said Thursday that police have uncovered 29 cases of human trafficking of foreign women from January to the end of June, up by five from the same period last year.
The 51 victims in the cases were from eight countries.
They include 20 from the Philippines, representing the largest group, followed by 17 from Thailand and four each from Indonesia and Romania. One of the victims was a transsexual, the NPA said.
Police have arrested or taken into custody 29 people--including 12 trafficking brokers--on suspicion of violating anti-prostitution and other laws during the period, up 16 from a year ago.The NPA announcement comes at a time when Japan is trying to clamp down on human trafficking.
Japan has revised the criminal law to stipulate human trafficking as a crime and to introduce punishments of up to 10 years in prison for people who sell these women to businesses.
The revisions took effect Tuesday.
Human trafficking is also punishable under a law banning child prostitution and child pornography.
Last year, the U.S. State Department placed Japan on a "watch list" of countries woefully lacking in anti-human trafficking laws. Tokyo has since been trying to rid itself of the embarrassing label.
Japan has been criticized for its insufficient measures to preventhuman trafficking. The revised criminal law on human trafficking "is a step forward because it clearly determined as victims women who were until now viewed only as foreigners illegally staying in Japan," said lawyer Yoko Yoshida, who was involved in compiling the NGO's report.
But she noted that Japan still lacked protective measures for human trafficking victims and called for public subsidies and medical aid for NGOs that help such women.Still, women from overseas have continued to suffer from human trafficking to Japan, according to the nongovernmental organization Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons.
The JNATIP recently compiled a report of more than 150 pages based on a survey of people mainly from Thailand, the Philippines and Colombia over an 18-month period.
The report showed that human trafficking continues to destroy the lives of countless foreign women in Japan.
According to the NPA, the women in all 29 cases of human trafficking so far this year were brought to Japan to work as bar hostesses. Many were forced into prostitution to repay debts they were told they owed the brokers. They entered Japan on entertainment visas and their passports were taken from them after entering the country.
The JNATIP's report goes further in detailing the misery endured by these women.
The women were told they would become dancers, work in karaoke bars or even fish factories in Japan. Many had high hopes and dreams before they entered the country, the JNATIP report said.
One Thai woman said she wanted to earn enough money in Japan and open a beauty parlor back home to provide a stable life for her children.
Not all of the women duped by the traffickers are from poor backgrounds, according to the report. An increasing number of highly educated women, including a former bank employee from Thailand, have been brought to Japan by brokers since the 1997 financial crisis in Asia, according to the report.
But after landing in Japan, their hopes are dashed. First, they are told they have debts of 2 million yen to 8 million yen (about $18,000 to $72,000) for the expenses needed to bring them to Japan.
The work they were promised never existed, the report said. Instead, the women are forced to work as hostesses, prostitutes and strippers to make their repayments.
Some of the workers were told not to wear stockings and to "let customers at bars touch their bodies," the report said.
Some were ordered not to use condoms.
Of the 200,000 yen or so monthly salary usually paid to a woman, 150,000 to 170,000 yen is deducted to pay the brokers in Japan and in the woman's home country in the name of travel fees.
About 70 percent of the 183 women a support group helped had less than 100,000 yen with them when they sought refuge.
A woman who was taken into protective custody at a private-run shelter said she was ordered to work at a farm and was then forced to buy the vegetables she had cultivated.
Escape from their nightmare is often impossible. The women's passports are taken away often on arrival in Japan, and they are forced to live in accommodations provided by the bars and other workplaces.
They are also kept under close watch by their employers, who often threaten to harm the women's families in their home countries if they try to escape, the report said.
The report mentions that a Thai woman said she gave up any hope of escaping after she saw a colleague who tried to run away brought back and gang-raped.
One victim gave birth thinking that she could return home if she became pregnant. But she was forced to continue working while caring for her infant son in a foreign country, the report said.
The report also touched on the practice of "resales" of women trafficked into Japan.
One victim who worked for a month at a bar in Nagano Prefecture was sold to similar establishments in Chiba and Nagano prefectures before being sent back to her original employer. With each change in employer, her so-called debts increased, the report said.(IHT/Asahi: July 14,2005)
Japanese police report 51 human trafficking victims in first half of 2005(updated PM 03:12)
Japanese authorities have so far this year discovered and deported 51 human trafficking victims who were smuggled into the country to work in the sex and entertainment industries, police said Thursday.
The number of victims was three times the tally in the first six months of last year, according to the National Police Agency report.
The victims, including one transsexual, were sent back to their home countries, including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Romania, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and Estonia, the report said.
While in Japan, they were forced into activities ranging from prostitution to working in hostess clubs where servers wear lingerie, the report said. Police arrested 29 other people on human trafficking charges in the first half of 2005, up from 24 last year.
The Switzerland-based International Organization for Migration estimates that as many as 150,000 trafficking victims could be working in Japan's sex industry. Activists say many women who voluntarily but illegally enter Japan are then saddled with exorbitant debts to their traffickers who enslave them to repay their travel fees.
The government has come under heavy international and domestic pressure to clamp down on human trafficking.
On Wednesday, a top U.N. anti-trafficking official urged Japan to do more to combat the problem.
Sigma Huda, U.N. special rapporteur on trafficking, said a law enacted in June that made trafficking people into Japan a criminal offense was only a first step. The new law, which took effect Tuesday, was introduced after the U.S. State Department added Japan to a list of countries too lax on human trafficking.
UN calls on Japan to address sex industry culture Japan
Last Updated 14/07/2005, 16:45:13 - ABC Radio Australia
The United Nations special representative on human trafficking says Japan needs to address cultural issues related to the problem.
Sigma Huda from the UN Commission on Human Rights says Japan's national culture helps the sex industry.
She says Japan has a deep-rooted culture that includes men being entertained by geisha and a refusal to acknowledge the abuse of comfort women during World War II.
Japan this year began tightening rules on "entertainer" visas after a US State Department study found that many of the women who arrived legally became sex slaves.
Ms Huda says Japan's police force should build trust among illegal workers who are victims of trafficking, not fear.
Thursday July 14, 9:26 AM
Police log record 51 human trafficking victims in 2005 first half
(Kyodo) _ Fifty-one foreign women were trafficked into Japan and forced into sex industry or other forms of exploitation in the first half of this year, the highest figure on record for the first half of a year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.
The latest figure, which was triple the numbers compared with the corresponding period last year, includes a Thai transsexual for the first time since the NPA began compiling the data in 2001.
Police uncovered 29 human trafficking cases, up by five, and netted a record 29 suspects, up by 16, involved in trafficking. The suspects, identified as brokers or the victims' employers, were either arrested or had their papers sent to prosecutors by the police.
The NPA report comes after revisions to the Penal Code were enforced on Tuesday. The revised law stipulates human trafficking as a crime and set punishments for violators.
Under the revised laws, those who purchase a person and put him or her under their control face three months to five years in prison. In cases of human trafficking for profits or sexual purposes, the penalty is even harsher or the prison term spans from one year to 10 years.
Based on these revisions, the NPA is hoping to step up measures against brokers and help protect victims.
According to the NPA, Filipino and Thai nationals topped the list of victims, with 20 and 17 respectively, followed by women from Indonesia, Romania, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and Estonia.
All the victims worked as hostesses, with 27 of them being forced into prostitution and other sexual services, while 24 others dressed in underwear to entertain visitors.
The NPA found that the victims could not escape due to various reasons such as incurring huge debts or having their passports taken away from them.
Of the victims, 28 sought help from the police, immigration officials or their embassies. The other cases were uncovered only when the victims were questioned on charges such as illegally staying in Japan.
Japan came under international pressure last year to combat human trafficking following a June report by the U.S. State Department, which downgraded its assessment of Japan's efforts to crack down on the problem by putting it on a special watch list of countries on the verge of falling into the worst category.
Tokyo subsequently adopted an action plan to combat human trafficking in December and implemented legal changes such as amending the Penal Code.
Last month, the State Department removed Japan from the list.
Human rights groups and researchers estimate that thousands of women, mostly from poor Asian countries, are trafficked into Japan every year and forced to work in the sex industry.