Japanese police begin crackdown on coerced sex in the porn industry

Japan’s pornography industry has come under greater scrutiny after Tokyo Metro Police arrested executives of a well-known talent agency on suspicion of coercing an actress to engage in sex on camera.  Human rights groups had been calling for action for months.

Police announced Monday that they had arrested the president of Marks Japan and two others on suspicion that they forced a woman into appearing in adult films by threatening to punish her financially. They also threatened to force her parents to pay for “contract violations” if necessary, police said.

The woman, described as being in her 20s, reportedly signed with the company in 2009 as a fashion model and was forced to have sex on camera in more than 100 videos before being able to cancel her contract in 2014, according to police.

The three men arrested, including company President Takashi Kozasu, were charged with breaking laws that regulate temporary employment agencies – specifically, rules that prevent the agencies from sending workers into assignments that violate public morals. The assignment that led to the charges was a film shoot in September 2013.

In March, the Tokyo-based advocacy group Human Rights Now issued a report (link in Japanese) charging that Japan’s pornography industry, which is reputed to take in $4.4 billion annually, violated the human rights of women and girls by blackmailing them and coercing them into work they didn’t want to do.

Shihoko Fujiwara, the founder of another group, the nonprofit Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims,  said that in the last year her group had received more than 100 complaints regarding forced participation in porn — and that the industry uses tactics similar to human traffickers.

Ten percent of these complaints were from young men. Japan has a shortage of men in the adult film industry, with an estimated 70 men and several thousand women.

“Victims are talked into signing a fashion-modeling contract,” Fujiwara said. “When they turn up on set they are informed that it is a porn shoot. They beg to quit or go home but are threatened to be charged millions of yen for penalties for contract violations and often end up giving in. The results are life devastating.”

Marks Japan did not respond to queries about its practices or the charges.

Adelstein and Yamamoto are special correspondents. Special correspondent Louis Krauss contributed to this report. 

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