Tough streets of Manchester to the sex trade of Tokyo and the vagueness of lawTough streets of Manchester to the sex trade of Tokyo and the vagueness of law
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Manchester – innovation and criminality
Manchester is located in north-west England and this vibrant city is where the Industrial Revolution came alive and Manchester was deemed the first modern industrial city in the world. At its height the city claimed many notable firsts and this applies to the site of the first railway station in the world; where scientists first split the atom; the development of the first programmable computer; and where the first Trade Union Congress took place.
Not only this, Manchester was internationalist in outlook and Marxism and free trade were theories that run through the veins of the city despite the competing thought patterns of both theories. Friedrich Engels spent much of his life in Manchester and the surrounding region and Karl Marx visited.
Alternatively, the Manchester School was focused on economics from the angle of limited government and anti imperialistic in nature. The Manchester School focused on free trade and laissez faire and the 19th century witnessed many revolutionary changes.
The majority of the 20th century would witness the decline of Manchester but by the end of this century the phoenix was gradually rising from the ashes. Despite this, the city will never reach the heights of the middle 18th century to the late 19th century but a new spirit began to emerge in the last few decades of the 20th century.
Yet just like the era of power Manchester was always blighted by areas of poverty and today social deprivation and powerful subcultures have emerged. Therefore, gangs have fought over the drug trade and other areas of crime in Manchester.
This notably applies to Cheetham Hill (I went to school in Cheetham Hill), Longsight, Moss Side and Salford gangs. In recent times new ethnic gangs have moved in and Pakistani gangs have a clear advantage because of the links to heroin in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Gangs in Moss Side came from the Afro-Caribbean community or were mixed blood but Salford gangs were mainly white. However, ethnicity was not an issue but protecting areas was and in Salford famous families were also instrumental and the set up was different.
Crime statistics in Manchester are well above the national average and areas like Ardwick, Ancoats, Benchill, Collyhurst, Harpurhey, Moston, Wythenshawe, and others; all have social deprivation issues alongside the areas of high gang activity which have already been mentioned.
Tokyo and the sex trade
Therefore, when I moved to Tokyo it was a welcome change to reside in a city which was free from high crime rates. Of course the Japanese yakuza is based in many areas of Tokyo and you have Chinese gangs and others but overall the gang culture is structured.
Also, other factors behind crime or criminality in Manchester appear to be missing in Tokyo and most violence in Manchester takes place outside gang issues. Petty violence and random attacks is the real cause for concern and the same applies to muggings or people breaking into your property.
Tokyo was a million miles away in this area and despite having several cultural mishaps during my first stay in Tokyo I soon adapted to the changed environment.
I remember walking around Harajuku and Shinjuku at night and not batting an eyelid about worrying about crime and being attacked. I watched in amazement when so many young adults could go home at night without any fears and the same applied to when people accidently walked into each other.
Yes, you have pockets of deprivation in Tokyo and this applies to parts of Minami Senju, Sanya, and other areas; however, crime figures in Tokyo are very low and the fear of being mugged or a random attack of violence does not enter the radar.
However, one area which is different is the sex trade because the sex trade is very big in Tokyo and the choices available are vast. More worrying, you have places where young girls, some aged 15, and I dare say sometimes younger; enter places whereby Japanese men watch them getting changed or they flash their panties and so forth.
The one reality of Tokyo is that amongst the neon lights and highly developed areas you have a budding sex trade which caters for chican (groping), normal prostitution, and a plethora of other options which are all connected to the sex trade.
In Manchester the sex trade also exists but not to the extent of Tokyo and the perverse nature of elements of the sex trade in Tokyo would not be tolerated in Manchester or throughout the United Kingdom in general because of legal factors.
Indeed, the sex trade in Manchester is often linked with drug addiction and it is a dangerous game to play. I often walked home along Cheetham Hill Road at night and you have a red-light area close to the city centre and along this road until the shopping areas starts in full.
Ladies of the night in Cheetham Hill are involved in a dangerous trade and pimps control them. This form of prostitution will exist to an extent in Tokyo but this is the main way in Manchester and ladies will be picked up and paid in cars and this clearly leaves them vulnerable and in danger.
This does not apply to Tokyo because the sex trade can be found in many parts of Tokyo and it is set amongst high quality buildings, wealthy areas and located within shopping districts and entertainment areas.
In my article called Tokyo and the booming sex trade: the mirage of reality; I comment that “It is reported that the sex trade generates $15 billion dollars a year in Japan but it is not just the enormous money that it generates which is astonishing; it is the diversity on offer. This applies to brothels which come under so many different names and this applies to image rooms, soaplands, pink salons, delivery health, and a vast number of names and services are provided.”
“Therefore, you can easily visit a fake train carriage and grope ladies in your “chikan heaven” or you can buy used panties at vending machines or visit a place and pick married women and so much more.”
Also, it is clear that young females are in demand and once more Tokyo caters for young girls who range from being around 15 or a little younger and they will be paid to sit or talk amongst themselves while flashing their panties to the paying adult males.
This type of vice would not be tolerated in Manchester but the nature of Tokyo, and Japan, appears to be “anything goes” providing the money is not visibly being given for sexual favors openly.
Anti-prostitution laws are vague in Japan and the same applies to the sex trade because while distribution of child pornography is a criminal offence the same does not apply to watching videos of children being abused in the comfort of your own home.
The seedy side of Tokyo is one issue but when it involves minors then you would think that the police would be pro-active. However, while the police may want to do more the legal system ties their hands and it is the political leadership and the legal system which is to be blamed for allowing this in Japan.
Sarah Noorbakhsh states that “Girls in uniform, some as young as 15, sit sprawled out on the floor of a small room, chatting or reading books. Skirts are rolled high, some have their legs folded up against their chest, and none the girls give much notice to the fact that their colorful panties are on display–to the paying customers in the next room.”
It is clear that the police are having trouble in stopping this because the legal system is so vague and open to many loopholes. Therefore, the main hope is the breaking of labour laws because child protection laws appear to be ineffectual.
Sarah Noorbakhsh continues by stating that the“Police are attempting to target the clubs to curtail this new expansion into the fuzokuindustry. Club “Yokohama Mambo” was investigated by police last month in an attempt to press child welfare laws against the venue, but because the girls are free to come and go as they please, the law wasn’t applicable. Authorities finally landed upon the Labor Standards Act, as it stipulates youth may not work in places that are hazardous from a hygienic or social welfare standpoint. They hope to investigate similar premises under the same law.”
The seedy side of Tokyo was unknown to my childhood in Manchester because the sex trade and images of young teenagers is potent within Japanese culture and this certainly applies to the booming sex trade of Tokyo.
This thought pattern did not exist in my native Manchester and while the sex trade exists it is not prominent and based in every major district of Manchester. However, in Tokyo the sex trade is visible in parts of Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Ueno, and recently it is increasing in Shibuya and you also have other areas outside of the major areas of Tokyo where the sex trade flourishes.
Of course different cultures and laws throughout the world will have different thought patterns and in Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia old men can marry young girls of eight and nine years of age. This also happens in Yemen and other Islamic nations where Sharia Islamic law is powerful.
Despite the violent side of Manchester being a reality I can at least understand this but why men are allowed to watch young girls or you can view child images in your own home without fear; even when the images are extreme; then I can’t fathom why this is allowed. The same applies to Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia allowing old men to marry children and all in the name of Islam.
Elements of the seedy side of Tokyo are meeting a high demand and prostitution and the sex trade is thousands of years old and Tokyo will not be unique. However, it is a clash of culture to seeing it so prevalent within the culture and the plethora of options is mind boggling to my upbringing in inner-city Manchester.
However, for Tokyoites the violence of inner-city Manchester and drug related issues will also be mind boggling.
Of course, Manchester is also a great city and you have many areas which make me proud and this applies to past history, the recent music scene and the richness of sport in my hometown.
Similarly, Tokyo is an amazing city which is ultra modern and the fashion scene is amongst the best in the world. Also, Tokyo is an economic powerhouse and this city is rich in culture.
Yet the one side that I fail to understand is the seedy nature of this city which caters for groping women on “fantasy trains” or watching young girls showing their panties and so forth.