A gaping loophole in Japan’s already grossly outdated law means any same-sex oriented part of the sex-industry can technically operate with total impunity.

■ New Half Health

For about four years, a type of so-called “new half health” business had been operating out of a residential condo in Yokohama City. In Japanese, “new half” is a term used for transgender individuals, with the “health” part a euphemistic term for sexual massages. As such, male employees dressed in women’s clothes could be seen going in and out at all times of the day along with a steady stream of clientele.

The service had no sign set up outside the room or building but posted on new half health websites with contact information so that customers could make reservations and have the apartment building’s autolock door opened for them upon their arrival. Although discrete in theory, the other residents gradually caught on to the scheme when they witnessed customers in various states of undress in common areas of the building and entering elevators smelling strongly of perfume.

Convinced they were dealing with some type of prostitution service, the residents’ union for the building approached the police to have it shut down. However, no raid was conducted on the new half health parlor because sex for money involving only men is not covered by Japan’s law regulating the sex industry. Whether they objected not, what was going on in the residents’ building was, technically, legal.

■ Fueiho

Regular readers may recall fueihothat backwards law which prevented and still heavily regulates dancing at nightclubs in Japan. Formally known as the Act on Control and Improvement of Amusement and Entertainment Business, it covers all forms of sexual and potentially sexual businesses like hostess clubs, maid cafes, and regular bars.

Interestingly enough, among all the brutally intricate peculiarities regarding the lighting of dance floors (10 lux or more) and volume of music, it also explicitly defines sex as only the heterosexual variety. This means that a man-on-man or woman-on-woman sex act simply doesn’t exist in the eyes of fueiho and therefore cannot be touched by it.

We won’t even get into the technicalities of how people may identify as either a man or a woman at this point. At the level of awareness and sensitivity Japan’s lawmakers currently have with regards to LGBT culture and issues, you’d be better off trying to explain what spacetime is to them.

■ Reform is needed

Despite the law being unable to help, the residents’ association was still ultimately able to push the new half health parlor out of their building for violating the contract with their landlord, which restricts commercial business from operating in their condo. No formal charges were pressed, however, since the new half health operators and staff appeared to be getting ready to move out of their own accord.

But the residents association isn’t finished. Concerned that this and other businesses are operating inside other residential areas, the association wants to give police the authority to shut such operators down by making fueiho much more more all-encompassing.

It’s an important goal since prostitution in any form brings the threat of all kinds of human rights violations and shouldn’t go unchecked. However, in terms of LGBT rights, this could be a dangerously wrong foot to get off on.

If we’re going to rewrite laws to include transgender and people with non-hetero-exclusive sexuality, it would be unbalanced to address only the criminal ones. Equality ought to be all encompassing, so if same-sex crimes are to be recognized by law, then it only stands to reason that same-sex rights such as legal marriages should also be.


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Source: Kanaloco via Yahoo! Japan News, Naver Matome (Japanese)
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