Magazine article New Internationalist

The Sex Tourist's Yen: As More Men Travel, the Sex-Tourism Industry Continues to Expand

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Sex Tourist's Yen: As More Men Travel, the Sex-Tourism Industry Continues to Expand

Article excerpt

ICOME here because Thai girls are pretty and gentle...' 'Girls here are much cheaper than in Japan: they are poor, that's why they need customers, isn't it?' 'Am I afraid of AIDS? No -- I use more than one condom.' 'I don't feel immoral to come here, because I'm sort of contributing to the Thai economy.'

These are some of the answers Japanese men in Thaniya Road, Bangkok gave to the Japanese Men's Group Against Prostitution in Asia in 1991. Thaniya Road is well known as a playground exclusively for Japanese men. Along the 200 - metre - long narrow street more than 100 lounges, Karaoke bars and Japanese restaurants are lined up one after another. Hundreds of Japanese tourists and businessmen enjoy their night - life with elegantly dressed Thai hostesses who speak a little Japanese.

Until a few years ago Japanese tourists used to spend their nights on Patpong Road. Today the Go - Go bars there are full of Western tourists. Thaniya Road gradually emerged to cater for Japanese men who feel uncomfortable with noisy music and naked dancers.

Japanese men don't like to mingle with Western men. You rarely come across Japanese men in the street. They are usually on a group tour and agents make special arrangements for them to receive girls in their hotel rooms. According to a female hotel manager the Japanese are very careful and nervous about sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, and they demand that the agents provide them with 'clean' girls. 'For us the Japanese way is much better than the way Western men walk around to pick up girls and get or spread the fatal virus,' she said.

The original destination of Japanese tourists was Taiwan, where Japanese was still spoken because Taiwan was once a colony. Group tours to Peitou hot springs near Taipei became popular because men could enjoy cheaper sex with local women, many of whom were young tribal girls from the mountains. Then, in 1972, the re - establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and mainland China cut direct flights between Tokyo and Taipei. Travel agents responded by funneling sex - tour packages to Seoul, South Korea. They lighted on the Kisaeng, a traditional Korean dinner and provocative entertainment, as the main sales point for Japanese men. The price of the tour included a Kisaeng girl.

Kisaeng tourism was exposed by Korean women in 1973 when a group of women students made protests at Kimpo airport, carrying placards reading: 'We oppose prostitution tourism!' or 'Don't make our country a brothel for Japanese men'. …

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