Kabukicho just recently witnessed the arrest of a porn company CEO for not doing his due diligence in acquiring the right business license. But that arrest seems mild in light of the recent bust of another Kabukicho establishment, NA Cafe.
Police arrested owner Hatanaka Takuya (41) and an as-yet-unnamed former employee (20) for allegedly serving alcohol to two female minors last year in order to coerce money from them .
Con Cafe or “Conning” Cafe?
Concept cafes, or “con cafes” for short, operate around a specific theme in decor and mannerisms, like maid cafes, kunoichi (female ninja) cafes, and butler cafes. NA Cafe, which reportedly brings in 10 million yen (about $76,428.33) a month, is a men’s con cafe (メンズコンカフェ) revolving around male underground idols (メン地下; menchika for short).
Many employees are live streamers or aspiring idols hoping to cultivate a fan base to make a debut, and the personable accessible atmosphere of a cafe only makes that easier. High sales means a higher chance of a management company willing to invest in their career and helping them debut in an underground idol group.
Unlike host clubs, prices at men’s concept cafes are relatively cheap. That makes them ideal for those who can’t afford to shell out thousands of yen on alcohol or gifts, but want a similar atmosphere .
At least, that’s the theory. According to police, one of the victims, who was 16 at the time of the drinking incident, “fell in love at first sight” with the former NA Cafe employee, then 19 years old. Over the course of nine months, she spent approximately 500,000 yen ($3,821.42) to support the employee in his idol endeavors, or oshikatsu (推し活). She also reportedly supplemented her funds with money earned through illegal paid dating (援助交際; enjoukousai).
As for the other victim, 17 at the time, she spent approximately 330,000 yen ($2,522.13). Last February, she ordered a bottle of champagne worth 300,000 yen ($2,292.85) to celebrate her one-month anniversary of visiting NA. The same former employee allegedly encouraged her to drink as much as she wanted. The manager reportedly asked employees not to serve alcohol to minors, but neglected to check customer IDs before serving .
It All Adds Up
If you’re wondering how it’s possible to spend that much money (even if the victims weren’t being conned into spending), one need only look at the cafe’s point system.
Point systems are fairly common at con cafe establishments. Depending on services and menu items purchased, customers can earn points towards various exclusive offers or out-of-store dates with their favorite employee, or “cast member.” For example, if you buy 250 points’ worth of Cheki (チェキ; instant polaroid photos) or bottles of alcohol (usually champagne), you can cash them in for exclusive NA Cafe merchandise. 500 points earns one a purikura (photo booth) excursion, while 1500 points gets you a date to a Disney park .
According to several female customers interviewed by Shueisha, customers have only a month to accumulate enough points to use them. That compels many to rush to spend more money  — and engage in risky behavior to earn it. While prices may seem deceptively cheap at NA Cafe — one cheki is 1,100 yen ($8.32) — its simplicity, plus the pressure to accumulate as many points as possible before they expire, makes it all too easy to for some take advantage of their adoring clientele.
Taking Advantage of Fans in the Worst Way Possible
NA Cafe already didn’t have the greatest of reputations prior to this bust.
It’s already enough encouraging underage customers to drink to fleece them for all they’re worth. But just two months earlier, police arrested two menchika for committing “obscene acts” with underage female minors . One of the perps, Honda Kouichiro, worked at NA Cafe and reportedly brought a high school senior girl to the cafe’s VIP room multiple times.
As if he wasn’t already disgusting enough for that, he admitted to having sex with her knowing she was underage and stated he wanted to “lure high school girls to increase his sales” . He manipulated the victimized girl, 17 at the time, into spending more money so he could debut as an idol. It’s believed she spent around 500,000 yen ($3,783.43) on him, which he later used to debut in the underground idol group Shigure (時雨).
In Tokyo, the minimum age of consent is 18 — the fight to raise the age of consent nationwide is ongoing — and violators can face up to 2 years in prison. While Japan lowered the age of adulthood from 20 to 18 last year, drinking, smoking, and gambling are still illegal until 20 years of age.
A Rising Trend?
The number of young people getting into enjoukousai to supplement their oshikatsu funds is getting more police attention. Police have already logged around 50 reports from concerned guardians over excessive oshikatsu, which is already 3 times last year’s numbers.
Recently, police hosted a workshop with several Akihabara cafe managers employing male underground idols to alert them to the rising trend . What this workshop entailed isn’t clear, but hopefully it was impressionable enough for managers to take more initiative in looking out for their young customer base — and keep their employees in line.
What to read next
「女子高生を虜にしたかった」…少女に30万円の酒提供「メンズコンカフェで行われた」わいせつ行為. FRIDAY Digital.
 コンカフェ界の新潮流「メンズコンカフェ」の実態。ホストクラブとの違いとは. Nikkan Spa!.
 システム＆メニュー. NA Cafe.
 〈メンズ地下アイドルわいせつ逮捕〉「女子高校生を虜にして売り上げをあげたかった、性的欲求も満たしたかった」…芸名は「蒼天の翼」と「時雨の伊織」、店長は直撃に「風営法許可取ってるんで！」. Shueisha Online.
 「メン地下」めぐる犯罪増 警視庁が注意呼びかけ. TV Asahi.