In Sexual Assault Crackdown, Police Raid Male Underground Idol Events in Kabukicho

In Sexual Assault Crackdown, Police Raid Male Underground Idol Events in Kabukicho

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Kabukicho, Tokyo, Japan
Picture: Ryuji / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
Reports of assaults against female fans have led authorities in Kabukicho to perform inspections at men's underground idol events - and, in a few cases, even issue arrest warrants.

Officials in Kabukicho entered numerous male underground idol events in response to reports of sexual assault against female fans. Meanwhile, idols and their agencies are receiving arrest warrants for assaulting underage girls.

Police take a first look into underground idol venues

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) conducted its first onsite inspections at five live music clubs in Kabukicho on January 30th amid allegations that male performers sexually assaulted underage fans.

Tuesday’s search at 14:00 (JST) was carried out in accordance with Tokyo’s Healthy Youth Development Ordinance. A total of about twenty authorities from the MPD and Shinjuku Health Center took part, according to the department’s juvenile development division.

Inspectors searched the five properties to determine whether signs banning underage youth after 23:00 were adequately on display, and if the establishments were identifying customers’ age to prevent underage drinking. In addition, authorities handed a “document requesting cooperation” to each club to ask venues to interfere with event managers who commit illegal acts or indecent assault.

Emotionally and financially taxing; sexually vulnerable too

Kabukicho, Tokyo, Japan
Ryuji / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

The MPD had already been on alert for the rising risk of music clubs exploiting young women.

Clubs under MPD inspection host performances by male underground idols or chika-idols (地下アイドル). Avid female fans attend idols’ pricy events which they may finance by earning money via illegal means such as prostitution.  

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Participation in oshikatsu (押し活), or fan activities, has seen women implicate themselves in crime to sustain hefty spending on their favorite idols whom they support––emotionally, financially, or both. It’s a similar phenomenon to host clubs, in which some women take up sex work to pay off hefty debts they owe to their favorite male companions.

With fans in the palm of their hands, some idols reportedly took advantage and sexually assaulted their supporters after performances.

Authorities are focusing not only on indecent acts committed by idols but also their organizers.

Agency and idols in on it

The MPD’s juvenile development division arrested two male company presidents of a Shinjuku talent agency NApromotion and referred one of its idols (20s) to prosecutors last month. Police allege the three conspired to assault a 17-year-old high school girl in violation of the Healthy Youth Development Ordinance. Authorities also referred the agency itself to prosecutors for allegedly violating the Employment Security Law.

The victim had spent about ¥2.5M in five months on oshikatsu. She reportedly financed the money with papakatsu (パパ活), a.k.a. a sugar daddy/sugar baby relationship.

Thousands of dollars on Polaroids

Cheki (Polaroid) camera

Authorities arrested two male idols, 25 and 22, on January 31st for allegedly violating the Healthy Youth Development Ordinance based on suspicions that they knowingly assaulted two underage girls continuously between March and July of 2021 in hotels around Shibuya and Shinjuku.

Both girls were fans who had spent between ¥500,000 (USD $3,370) to ¥3M (USD $20,219) on checki-kai (チェキ会), or high-priced polaroid photoshoots with their oshi.

One polaroid typically costs around ¥1000. The appeal is in the opportunity to get physically up close with one’s favorite idol, or oshi (押し).

Agencies and their idols aim to profit from instilling romantic affection in fans. Sometimes, this intimacy crosses the line into a physical relationship.

The MPD received one hundred complaints involving underground male idols and male concept cafes in 2023. That’s more than double the number compared to the forty complaints filed in the previous four years.

Last April, police arrested several men at the men’s concept cafe NACafe for serving alcohol to minors and sexually assaulting them. In May, police arrested two men at men’s concept cafe META for serving alcohol to a minor and then threatening her over her 600K yen (USD $4,489) bill.

Sources

[1] 「メンズ地下アイドル」わいせつ事件など受け歌舞伎町のライブハウスに立ち入り 警視庁(2024年1月30日). テレ東BIZ

[2] メン地下で少女らにリスク 警視庁が歌舞伎町のライブハウス立ち入り. 朝日新聞

[3] 「メン地下」活動の歌舞伎町ライブハウスに警視庁が初立ち入り過激な“押し活”わいせつ事件も発生. 産経新聞

[4] 「メンズ地下アイドル」の男2人、女子高校生2人にわいせつ疑いで逮捕. 読売新聞

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