Articles on Modern Day Enslavement - Zola M Dube

Japan’s lucrative video gaming industry imitates criminal real life

In 13 Days of Awareness: 13 Nations Profiled on July 1, 2010 at 9:51 PM

…choosing young girls to assault, raping them numerous times with an option to impregnate the girl and force her to have an abortion. RapeLay doesn’t stand alone; there are many games in Japan that include high numbers of rapes mixed with violence and torture…That this game specifically focuses on minors fuels the child-sex trade.

Ashley Beudin Smithville

On 21 April 2006 in Japan, RapeLay, a 3D eroge (“erotic game”) video game produced by Illusion was released to the public. The game follows the typical Visual Novel format pioneered by Japan’s video programmers. You, the player, are the main character of the story, “Kimura Masaya”. As you delve deeper and deeper into the psychotic world of Kimura, a habitual “chikan” (“street groper”, common character in Japanese pornography) you select a variety of scenarios to stalk and rape a mother and her two young daughters in a public, crowded train.

Eroge (also “hentai”) “entertainment” or violent games depicting rape, torture and bondage in detail and including children, are not new to Japan. They originated in the 1980’s when Japan was vying with the United States for first rank in computer standards. With the advent of the internet, these games have achieved global outreach. According to a March 2010 CNN report, it is possible to download RapeLay for free.

The questions loom: Why are these games tolerated in a modern, advanced society like Japan? Who and what is liable for the popularity and sustainability of eroge and hentai?

At the time of the writing of this article Japan’s parliament is engaged in a debate around regulating its entertainment industry. At the center of deliberations is whether to regulate sexual images of minors in “manga” comic books, animation and video games. In Japan there is no purchasing age restriction. A leading opponent is Yukari Fujimoto, an Associate Professor of Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan. Fujimoto contends that pornography in Japan has no negative effect on Japanese youth. She cites the positive impact of images opening up discussions about sex with family and friends. If children are sheltered from sexual information they aren’t able to talk about sex with anyone and may develop a sense of guilt about their feelings. Fujimoto also argues that regulation of comic book content in America resulted in a decline in revenues. Japan is among the highest grossing video gaming industries in the world, second only to the America where it holds first place.

Leading experts on Japanese attitudes about sex and sexuality acknowledge that society has traditionally been lax. However, there is a growing tied of Japanese nationals who are pushing for government to take a stronger stance. In a 2003 Asian Times article Japanese men are accused of having views of women as second-class humans. It holds men responsible for the underground sex industry and creating a haven for sex traffickers. The article highlights the sentiments of “Hiroshi Goto”, a 40-year-old secretary to a politician: “I don’t miss having a girlfriend because work is so important to me. When I want female company, I visit Tokyo’s various nightspots with my colleagues. Life is much easier that way.”

The global figure on human trafficking is $32 billion. Japan’s underground sex industry (including sexual enslavement, prostitution, pornography, manga magazines, and video games) is estimated at $83 billion a year. (On the face of it, these estimates, including reports attributing $16 billion dollars to Latin America, are counter-intuitive and represent the need for further studies to establish a truer account of revenues generated by the global human trafficking industry.)

Whereas, there are Japanese experts who put forth arguments to exonerate the entertainment industry from having an adverse impact on society, Yakuza has been a source of social tension for centuries. Yakuza, aka Japanese mafia, is a traditional crime syndicate with a history spanning 400 years. In contemporary Japan, they are linked to blackmail, illegal gambling, money laundering, casinos, prostitution, and smuggling. For many people around the world, information about Yakuza came through recent publications by Jake Adelstein, a former reporter for Tokyo’s largest daily newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun. Jake Adelstein uncovered the inside world of Yakuza while investigating a potential human trafficking ring in Tokyo:

…certain factions of the yakuza engage in human trafficking, the production of child pornography, extortion, stock manipulation, pushing drugs, assault, loan sharking and occasionally murder.

Attempts to curtail Yakuza’s influence in Japanese affairs appear futile. The Japanese National Police Agency (NPA) estimates that the Yakuza have almost 80,000 members. In Tokyo 800 Yakuza front companies are engaged in investment and auditing firms, construction companies and pastry shops. The mafia is also rumored to have set up their own bank in California.

Within Japan’s entertainment and video gaming industry, Yakuza is the inspiration for countless manga, animation, video games and porno flicks.  They are glamorized characters programmed for players to personify in pre-scripted Visual Novels – adventurous, bold, cruel, calculated, yet handsome and sometime charming. On 30 June 2010 Playstation Lifestyle published the release of “Another Yakuza Game on the Horizon”. Yakuza may be a key to understanding Japan’s attitude towards sex and violence.

In 2000 the Journal of Applied Social Psychology published a paper entitled “Attitudes towards prostitution and acceptance of rape myths”(1). The study was conducted among undergraduate students in California, Iowa, Oregon, and Texas. The position of the study is as follows:

Prostitution myths are those which justify the existence of prostitution, promote misinformation about prostitution and prostituted women, and contribute to a social climate that exploits and harms not only prostituted women but all women.

Although the aforementioned 2000 study is based in the United States, its thesis appears as global as human and sex trafficking. A social climate that exploits and harms can be applied to Japan’s unregulated position on “entertainment”. To the extent that globalization informs the dispersion of antisocial “entertainment” programs, those who understand the correlation between “entertainment” imitating real-life criminal behavior are presented with the challenge of chartering a new course and dialogue on the merits of a truly global movement against human trafficking. Human trafficking does not exist in national silos; it is a global phenomena.

– Zola Dube

1. Cotton, Ann and Farely, Melissa and Baron, Robert. (2000). “Attitudes toward prostitution and acceptance of rape myths.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 32(9) pp 1790-1796


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