J Today/Shuukan Shinchou on Ikebukuro Police’s “Gaijin Hostess Hunt”


Hi Blog. A little something that has been lying latent in my files but hasn’t really found a home anywhere pointwise. Just a report from Mark Schreiber based on the Weeklies of how crackdowns on visas are leading to raids on bars. Quick comment follows article, of course.

Japan Today.com Kuchikomi Column, from Shuukan Shinchou Weekly Magazine
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Courtesy of the Author

Watering holes in the area around JR Kinshicho station in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward have long been known to employ hostesses from Russia, the Ukraine, Moldova and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

Last month, at one particular establishment, the music was pulsing to a lively beat and the drinks were flowing when several men in dark jumpsuits pushed their way inside and shouted, “Turn off the music! Everybody stay where they are. Show us your passports!”

Yes, reports Shukan Shincho (July 19), it was indeed a raid by the much-dreaded “immigration police.”

The foreign hostesses were herded into a corner of the bar, and those found to be working on tourist visas were herded out in groups of twos and threes. Inebriated customers, lurking outside the door, raised angry voices in protest.

During June, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and Immigration Bureau staged a series of joint crackdowns on these so-called “gaijin clubs” in Kinshicho and Ikebukuro, in search of visa violators.

”From June 15 to 18, the authorities mobilized 370 staff to conduct raids, including house searches,” an unnamed reporter at a city desk tells the magazine. “This was the largest raid they’ve conducted in quite some time. They went after Russian clubs and made 14 arrests, and remanded 35 more women to immigration on visa violation charges.”

Most of the clubs hit in the raid employed over 10 women, and several were forced to shut down, Shukan Shincho notes. However, this “gaijin hostess hunt,” as the magazine describes it, appears to have been aimed at a specific operator.

”The main targets were shops run by the ‘M’ group, which is widely established in Ikebukuro and Kinshicho,” the manager of a Russian club is quoted as saying. “It’s got a reputation for hiring eastern European women here on working holiday or tourist visas, but it was overdoing things, and attracted too much attention.”

Needless to say, the magazine notes, such work violations have become rampant in Japan’s “mizu shobai.” But this latest crackdown has left the operators of other gaijin clubs filled with trepidation that they might be the targets of the next crackdown.

July 18, 2007


If things are going to go this far, let’s hope the press also reports on how their employers get it in the neck too.

Another related article regarding bar crackdowns on Debito.org:

https://www.debito.org/?p=13 (See item 3 on Hiroshima Bar “El Barco” on how police raids target by clientele and then sift bar occupants by race–even when there’s no particular fear of the “staff” “overstaying”.) Excerpt:

“The directors have been arrested for making/having customers dance without a night entertainment permit. There is in fact only one establishment in Hiroshima that actually holds all the licenses technically required under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act. Obtaining such a permit however places limits on the hours that a business can stay open. El Barco is registered as a late night business (mayonaka eigyou), however, that does not permit dancing. It is not possible to obtain both permits, meaning that under current Japanese law it is legally impossible to run an establishment where you can drink and dance late into the night. It thus follows that this is matter of concern for all late night dance clubs across Japan. We also have reservations about the manner in which the arrests were carried out, with over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police raiding El Barco late Saturday night to arrest only two people for a permit violation…”
(continues at above website link)


Arudou Debito in Sapporo

1 comment on “J Today/Shuukan Shinchou on Ikebukuro Police’s “Gaijin Hostess Hunt”

  • Exactly right with El Barco – I’m not even sure the club that holds all the correct documentation is a lively destination, but I can tell you none of them have completely stopped dancing and drinking. They’re essentially at the mercy of police enforcement every weekend.


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