These girls claim having a middle-aged man pay for their lifestyle is different from compensated dating, but is it really?

While the concept of having a sugar daddy, or papakatsu, probably isn’t new to anyone in the Western world, right now in Japan, girls hoping to capitalize on their good looks and companionship are flocking to find middle-aged men who are open to becoming their mentors — as long as they have a steady bank account, that is.


From an outsider’s view, papakatsu doesn’t seem all that different from enjo-kosai, or compensated dating, where girls (particularly those who are high school-aged) seek out and/or are approached by older men who are more than happy to give them money and gifts for a little bit of their time, or possibly more. But those who currently have a sugar daddy say the concept is completely separate because they aren’t centered around physical desire or love. That is to say, unlike the Western concept of a sugar daddy, these  sugar daddies aren’t getting any sugar, and the relationship is closer to one of a hostess and her client.

“It’s the same as getting presents from friends,” one site in support of papakatsu says. Admittedly though, this still seems fishy, as I don’t really know anyone who considers showering someone with expensive meals, money, and gifts, just for the privilege of their company, to be a real friendship. I’d be hard pressed to say that regularly expecting a friend, let alone a middle-aged man, to wine and dine you is completely innocent and normal, especially in light of comments made by some of the women involved like the following.

“This sucks! I got cheated by my ‘daddy’. It was our second time out, and even though we’d agreed that he’d pay me 20,000 yen (approximately US$200) for two hours of my time over dinner, while we were eating he got up and excused himself to the bathroom, and then left and went home, so I was stuck with the 30,000 yen (US$295) bill. (; ;) I went to the police, but they told me that because it was a personal dispute, I wouldn’t be able to file a report. I’m so disappointed.” [Original text available here.]

I guess the “daddy” part of “sugar daddy” isn’t supposed to cover teaching your “daughter” a lesson about depending on rich strangers to pay your way. Additionally, most people don’t usually turn to the police when their family members/friends leave without offering presents, or when they take a break from footing the bill for once. As you can see, this kind of rationale goes against goes the “it’s the same as getting a present from a friend” argument.

5754481003_55916cc746_bFlickr/Droid Gingerbread (Edited by RocketNews24)

Understandably the concept has been met with a lot of scrutiny, criticism, and backlash, with some sugar babies, like Ms. Yuyuna here, feeling the need to speak out on the matter.

“People against having sugar daddies just don’t have the courage to get one themselves, or they’re not pretty enough to make much if they did so they’re just jealous of cute girls that are investing in themselves. What’s so wrong about having a sugar daddy? We’re just fulfilling a demand and it’s not any of your business.” [Original text available here.]

While it’s true that in essence that it’s a transaction that only concerns the two people involved, the problem is that should the transaction turn sour, like the previous situation above, parties tend to seek out involvement from others. That’s completely ignoring how, like compensated dating and prostitution, agreeing to privately meet strangers can pose a real safety threat. As for just being jealous, I think it’s safe to say that most people would rather spend time with people they enjoy hanging out with over people they share no real connection with. It also begs the question that if sugar daddy relationships indeed have no physical element to them, why would it matter what the girl looks like?

But beyond all that, why are more and more women searching for sugar daddies to supplement their incomes all of a sudden? Well, if you’ll remember from the previous explanation of papakatsu, receiving money from a sugar daddy supposedly isn’t that far off from the premise of working for a hostess or cabaret work, where women converse and/or pamper men for a set hourly rate.

One theory is that because of the new My Number system (a social security number-like system) that was recently rolled out in Japan, it’s now harder for women work at hostess clubs and other negatively viewed mizu shobai, or nighttime services, without being recognized by the government or any other companies they may be working for.

5389544445_78c3db5c83_bFlickr/Danny Choo

Before My Number, a number of personal records (even those computerized), were not linked to a nation-wide database. This allowed people, especially women, to find alternative sources of income that they could easily get away with not declaring or paying taxes on. If a hostess or mizu shobai worker were keen on keeping her extra job or income a secret, it only makes sense that she would turn to keeping things under the table by managing her own sugar daddy clientele.

Alternatively, since many hostesses and mizu shobai workers already engage in compensated dating (often forbidden by their employers, but a necessity to keep clients interested and paying more to reserve them by name, and therefore boost their popularity ranking), it makes sense that some women might be eager to go ahead spare themselves the competition by cutting out the middleman and meeting these clients one-on-one.

Third, with a decrease in employment opportunities, salary earnings, and benefits at regular companies, especially for women, it’s possible that for some, finding one or more sugar daddies to support them is an easier option, and more reasonable than working long hours for little pay and little chance of promotion at a normal job.

Whatever the reason, though, it seems like the sugar daddy trend doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon, and will likely to continue to lure more women in who are looking to be wined and dined on someone else’s tab, and aren’t exactly picky about who.

Source: Hachima Kisoku, Papakatsu.com
Feature/top image: Flickr/Jaysin Trevino