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The Japanese government has asked the UN to retract its recent statement that claims 13 percent of girls in Japan are involved in compensated dating.

In October, UN Special Rapporteur Maud de Boer-Buquicchio appeared before members of the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. In her presentation, the Dutch de Boer-Buquicchio, who specializes in raising awareness of and preventing child prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, spoke on the subject of enjo kosai.

Enjo kosai literally translates as “compensated association,” and is a broad term generally used to describe the practice of older men paying younger women, particularly minors, for their company. On the less extreme end, such company can take the form of simply going on dates together, but in many cases sexual intercourse is assumed to be part of the bargain.

It’s a troubling phenomenon, even for the general public in Japan, which tends to take the issues of prostitution, and teenage sexual activity in general, less seriously than many Western nations. So de Boer-Buquicchio’s audience was shocked when she dropped this bombshell while talking about enjo kosai:

“Some 13 percent of the schoolgirls in Japan are involved in that kind of activity.”

That figure is far beyond what most people had imagined, and no doubt many of the politicians and lawmakers tasked with protecting the youth of Japan were startled and embarrassed. But 13 percent would be equivalent to more than one in eight schoolgirls, and the wording seems to imply that even elementary and middle schoolers are included in the shameful ratio, so some found it hard to quickly believe that enjo kosai is really that rampant.

As a result, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to explain what the Special Rapporteur had based her declaration on. On November 2, the ministry received a response from de Boer-Buquicchio, who admitted she had “received no official statistic,” for use in calculation of the 13-percent figure she had stated.

She offered the justification that “many of [her] interlocutors referred to it as a worrying trend,” and said that she was speaking of estimates she found in “open sources” in an effort to emphasize the need to move quickly in addressing the problem of enjo kosai.

In light of these revelations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs is asking that de Boer-Buquicchio’s original statement be retracted. The ministry asserts that the comment being made by someone who holds such a high post with the UN lends the quoted statistic a level of perceived accuracy which, due to the imprecise methodology, it does not warrant. The UN has yet to issue a response.

Sources: Nico Nio News, BBC News
Top image: Rakuten