Looking Back at NFSJ Cafes

Vol.10 “The Issue of “Sexual Consent” at the Root of Everything: Thoughts from the Front Lines of Supporting Victims of Sexual Exploitation”

(NFSJ Café #24, June 23, 2021, Held online)
Guest lecturers: Ms. Megumi Oka (a counselor at the NPO PAPS)

NPO PAPS is a member of JNATIP (Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons), of which NFSJ is a member, and Ms. Oka is a member of its steering committee. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to assist Ms. Oka in her preparations for a meeting with the Japanese Government and JNATIP.  At the time, Ms. Oka murmured, “Anyway, sexual consent is the root of sexual exploitation,” which led to the realization of this NFSJ Café.

From the very beginning of the lecture, key words like “self-determination of the body,” “boundary” and “sexual consent” came up. Both children and adults have the right to “body self-determination,” or how to treat their own bodies. She explained that we can also decide the distance and boundaries between ourselves and others as we see fit.

There are also “private zones,” which we do not show to others or allow them to touch, and if someone tries to, it is OK to say “No!”  in a clear voice. Many of the victims who consult with PAPS are unaware of these rules.

During the discussion time, participants said, “We were not taught these things either” and “This is a basic problem that needs to be addressed before sex education. It is important to teach children how to take care of their own bodies from an early age.”

The key points I understood regarding sexual consent are:
– Sexual consent is possible only in a relationship of equals. It is difficult to be established under unbalanced power relationships, such as parent-child, teacher-student, etc. In situations like adult video performances, where there is a contractual relationship or where money is paid, there is no sexual consent because the relationship is unequal.

– Sexual consent should be confirmed every time. Even if you consented in the past, you can say no if you don’t want to now, and your will should be respected. In photography and videography, it is necessary to confirm the consent of the photographer and the subject, not only at the time of shooting but also at the time of viewing. However, since this is almost impossible in reality, sexual consent is not possible with images, videos, etc.

It made sense to me.

In other words, in commercial as well as private filming, sexual images and videos do not constitute sexual consent in the first place. In order to create a society where people are not sexually exploited, this concept of sexual consent must be widely known. It is necessary to have the common sense that whoever says “no” must always be respected.

Another thing that impressed me was the importance of what kind of message society sends to the younger generation on a daily basis. The social tendency to emphasize self-responsibility makes victims think that it is their own fault, and makes it difficult for them to ask for help.

You are definitely not to be blamed. Whenever you realized, “I really didn’t like it! ” you can ask for help.  It doesn’t matter if you were paid for it. Talk to us first!

This is the message we at NFSJ want to send out.
(Nozomi Kuriyama)

*NPO “PAPS” website

*Enforcement of the AV Appearance Victimization Prevention and Relief Act (June, 2022)

*For more information on Ms. Oka’s profile, refer to the NFSJ Cafe #24 announcement page.

Vol.9 “Detention Center Visitation: Reality of Immigrants in Japan”

(NFSJ Café #21, August 6, 2020 Held online)
Guest lecturers: Mr. Alex Easley (Leader of the Detention Ministry at Tokyo Baptist Church)
and Mr. Thomas Ash (journalist, film-maker, St. Alban’s Church member)

Before COVID-19, many foreigners came to Japan for various reasons, including to earn money to send back to their families. With the aging workforce in Japan, they have been invaluable and support the Japanese economy. Still others are refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing political or other persecution. Some members of both groups have been unfairly detained in Immigration Detention Centers throughout the country, sometimes enduring inhumane treatment.

Migrant workers and refugees are vulnerable to human rights violations and are closely linked to Human Trafficking.

So I was privileged to facilitate this cafe where we heard from Mr. Alex Easley and Mr. Thomas Ash who have spent years going to centers to visit and support these detainees.

We learned that they are allowed to visit and talk to men for 30 min. at a time, sometimes seeing up to 5 people a day. (I went once to Shinagawa’s Center and visited 2 women). Each detainee has a different story, so they listen, ask what they can bring the next time, and show/share the love of Jesus with them.

Often there were heart-wrenching stories about why they were detained, the bad conditions, the loneliness, etc.. All the cafe participants were impressed with their dedication to support these men who’ve been affected by unfair immigration policies.

Thomas has made a documentary currently being shown throughout Japan called “Ushiku”. “Based on interviews with foreign nationals detained for long periods of time at the immigration center in Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture, this film reveals the violation of human rights by the authorities.” (Quoted from synopsis from Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2021)

I highly recommend you watch the trailer and write-up, and then see it! https://www.ushikufilm.com/en/

It will show in Tokyo again from Sept. 9th. https://www.ushikufilm.com/en/theaters/

(Bonnie Jinmon)

The NFSJ Cafe #21 announcement

Vol.8 ““Slavery in the Ocean” and Japan: Is this fish I’m eating slave-free?”

(NFSJ Café #28, May 27, 2022 online)
Guest lecturer:
Ms. Anju Kozono (Business and human rights coordinator at Human Rights Now)

At the 28th NFSJ Café, we had Ms.Anju Kozono from Human Rights Now come and discuss with us about the realities of slavery in the fishing industry and Japan’s stance in relation to the Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing industry.

We held this event online, prior to Japan’s first showing of Ghost Fleet (2018), which is a documentary that follows Thai activists in their work to bring home those who are stuck at sea. Many workers are recruited from rural parts of their country, only to be placed under harsh working conditions as fishermen. Ms. Kozono explained how Japan may be contributing to this industry, largely unknowingly, by purchasing and consuming fish from the IUU fishing industry.

Japan is a large consumer of fish, both domestically and internationally, as traditionally people would eat fish at least once a day. However, the dark industry behind some of the products remains highly unknown. Ms. Kozono explained that Japan is the 3rd largest importer of seafood, and unfortunately, 24~36% of those fish are purchased from the IUU fishing industry. Most of the participants were very surprised by this statistic, and even more alarmed by the fact that the fish are being sold in the supermarkets in as processed fish and other products.

Certain countries and organizations have put laws and restrictions in place to help ensure legal practices within their regions or contributing countries, such as the European Union (EU) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). Japan is a part of an agreement made by the FAO, the Port State Major Agreement (PSMA), and uses the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certifications as well. These laws help protect the human rights of those stuck as laborers, often harassed and forced to work for little to no pay, and ensure that more businesses and individuals are more aware of where their fish come from.

Ms. Kozono gave us several ideas for combating slavery in the fishing industry from Japan, which include getting educated on the situation in Japan, raising awareness about this issue, and finding and supporting organizations that fight against illegal fishing and slavery at sea.
(Meg Wilson)

-For more information on IUU fishing (Report by Human Rights Now)

-Ghost Fleet Official Trailer

Vol.7 “Views of Two Foreign Students on Japan’s Sex Industry ~ Screening of the Documentary “Beyond the Yellow Line”~

(NFSJ Café #17, June 13, 2019 at Musashino Place)
Guest lecturers:
Ms. Hanako Montgomery Ogawa and
Ms. Tess Rizzoli (Sophia University students at the time)

This NFSJ Café was held at Musashino Place for the screening of the documentary “Beyond the Yellow Line”. The filmmakers, Ms. Hanako Montgomery Ogawa and Ms. Tess Rizzoli, were our guest speakers. During the Q&A session after the screening, they informed the audience about prostitution and other sexual customs in the U.S. and Italy. I think the participants had a very meaningful time exchanging opinions about their confusion and awareness of these issues.

The film screened consisted of interviews conducted in Kabukicho and other areas of the sex industry. Each one of the interviewees answered the questions posed by the foreign students in a carefree manner, as if trying to justify their actions. I was impressed by this, but I was sure it was because these were research interviews with young foreign women. This would not be the case with Japanese women. Their sense of caution and embarrassment would have prevented them from answering the questions in such a direct manner. Everyone understands the embarrassing parts of their culture, and even themselves. If possible, they would not want those embarrassing parts discussed.

In the discussion following the screening, one participant asked, “If Not For Sale Japan shows a film that only shows the reality of sexual customs, does that mean that they endorse this kind of sex work?” However, an audience member who is making efforts to rescue victims of sex trafficking said, “The worst thing about this kind of sex industry issue is indifference. Indifference is not just a denial, but rather an affirmation”.

The film shows the naked reality of people in Japanese sex industry, which could only be realized by capturing the perspectives of foreign students. I hope you will watch this film, which is available on YouTube for anyone to see. Let’s not also be indifferent about this issue!
(Michiyo Namura)

Beyond the Yellow Line (Watch the Film on YouTube)

For more information on the guest speakers (as of the time of the event)

Vol. 6 “Modern Slavery: Measuring a Hidden Problem”

(NFSJ Cafe #26, January 19, 2022  Held online)

For decisionmakers and organizations to fight modern slavery effectively, it is essential that they have access to updated data and information at the local and international levels. However, because of its hidden nature, reliable data on modern slavery are difficult to collect.

In response to this challenge, Walk Free developed the Global Slavery Index (GSI) by using a combination of social research methods and advanced technology systems. The GSI offers a detailed picture of modern slavery as it exists across industries and countries, as well as an analysis of the actions governments are taking to respond.

On January 19, 2022, Brittany Quy and Elly Williams from Walk Free presented the GSI during the 26th NFSJ Café. Their presentation helped the participants understand how pervasive modern slavery is around the world nowadays.

According to Walk Free, there are around 40.3 million people living in modern slavery worldwide. Of course, this number is just an estimate as many people entrapped in slavery remain unaccounted for as a result of the hidden and dangerous nature of their situation.

It was encouraging to learn that organizations like Walk Free invest in research to produce tools and data that help inform the development of anti-slavery projects and initiatives.

The last GSI was released in 2018, and the 2022 index is expected to be published sometime this year. (Randrara “Dara” Rakotomalala)

For more information on the guest speakers:

To access the Global Slavery Index and read the latest reports written by the Walk Free team, please visit: https://www.globalslaveryindex.org

To view the GSI country data and country studies for Japan, please click on the following links: https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/data/country-data/japan/

To learn more about Walk Free, please visit: https://www.walkfree.org/projects/the-global-slavery-index/


Vol. 5 “Let’s listen to Mr. Willem Botes’s Findings through Dogenzaka Night Walking”

(NFSJ Cafe #4, March 21, 2016 at Musashino Place)

In Feb. of 2015, Willem Botes, a South African diplomat in Tokyo, started prayer walking in the red-light district of Dogenzaka on weekends. He shared with us what he’d learned from a year of praying against the dark sex industry in Japan.

He prayed mainly for the female victims of sexual exploitation, and also for the men who are involved on the business-side and those who support it as customers. He did so both daytime and often even in the middle of the night or dawn. During his prayer walking, he met many people including prostituted women. He was able to briefly talk with them which helped him understand their situations, and tried to share his hope in Christ with them. Sometimes when he encountered a woman for the 2nd time, she said she “remembered him and his God”.

Over the year, he made a prayer route stopping at various love hotels, shops selling women’s underwear or sex toys, clubs, and even a place where he suspected women were forced into performing in AV films. They’d come out crying and devastated. He then shared this information with his church’s ministry against human trafficking and led us to pray monthly the route on Sunday afternoons, when all was quiet. He saw answers to prayer, like some establishments closing.

I was very impressed with his commitment to pray against satanic symbols seen along the route and for the victims to be set free in Christ, who can break the chains of slavery.

Willem actually completed 91 consecutive weeks of prayer walking before returning to SA. He later shared some of his experiences and breakthroughs in his self-published book “The Miracle is to Walk on the Earth”. An ebook version is available for download at a cost of US $8.00 (proceeds go to missionaries in Japan).  https://payhip.com/b/zB2w?fbclid=IwAR1KkmgFRT3qUv2Ukv7mPkW50ieEvpyjsfSrR1jaokSNcd5LrPZ4dUjFEsI

(Bonnie Jinmon)

Vol.4 “Sierra Leone: Seeking for Peaceful Diamond”

(NFSJ Cafe #11, May 18, 2018 at Musashino Place)
Guest lecturer: Mr. Joseph Smith, then Rotary Peace Fellow

May 5, 2018, Joseph Smith, a Rotary Peace Fellow studying in graduate school at ICU spoke to the NFSJ Cafe on “Sierra Leone; Seeking for Peaceful Diamond”.

Mr. Smith gave a brief history of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa, with one of the shortest life spans in the world (according to May 20, 2016 census.) due to the decade-long civil war in 1990s and the outbreaks of Ebola* and other infections. (*WHO declared the end of Ebola transmission in 2016.)

In explaining the history, Mr. Smith referenced the film “Blood Diamond” which was set in the civil war period as an accurate portrayal of how the mineral resources caused intensive conflicts, exploitation and human trafficking. Prior to coming to Japan, Mr. Smith had been fighting for the miners’ working conditions and human rights.

Mr. Smith’s description of the abuse that took place in the mining industry was vivid, leaving one with an image that greed took precedence over safety, general welfare for the workers or simple human compassion. He described a brutal system. However, he emphasized that the situation has been improving as the country was democratized 10 years ago and is now in the process of restoration, utilizing its rich mineral resources including diamonds. In 2018, Sierra Leone conducted presidential and parliamentary elections resulting in a peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another, further consolidating the country’s commitment to democracy.

Mr. Smith is currently the Founder & Executive Director of Africa Youths on Mining and Environment. He is also the West Africa Coordinator for Independent Social Performance. (Kathy Burton-Lewis)

Vol.3 “Let’s learn about LGBT: Toward the Society Where No One is Left Behind and Sexual Diversity is Accepted”

(NFSJ Cafe #16, April 19, 2019 at Musashino Place)

Guest lecturer: Ms. Mami Sasaki, Intern at NPO Good Aging Ales

We invited Mami Sasaki, who was an intern at Good Aging Ales, a support group for LGBT people, to be a lecturer at the NFSJ Café because she was acquainted with a previous lecturer we had. The interesting thing about NFSJ Cafés is that encounters with people like this are spun together in such a mysterious way.

Ms. Sasaki told us basic knowledge about what problems LGBT people face and how society can be there for them. This was the first time I realized that besides biological sex, sexual orientation (the sex you prefer) and gender identity (how you think about your gender), there is a fourth “expressed sex” (how you want to present yourself to society). Also, that there are dozens of combinations of them, being gradations on a spectrum, not clearly distinguishable.

Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage, and unfortunately, three years later, this has not changed. However, I was happy to learn that some companies have begun to recognize same-sex partnerships for daily services (e.g. life insurance beneficiaries, family rates for cell phones, bank mortgages, etc.) ahead of the government.

On the other hand, in Japanese society, where schools, families, and communities have difficulty recognizing diversity, LGBT people are troubled by their own gender identity and sexual orientation. They might find it difficult to come out for fear of bullying, discrimination, or being marginalized. People in the majority may unintentionally hurt them as well. Good Aging Ales aims to create a society where it is easy for sexual minorities to live together, by increasing the number of “allies” and making the issue visible through fun events and publicity.

Human trafficking is a crime that takes advantage of people in vulnerable situations, often with discrimination and prejudice in the background, so we sometimes hear about LGBT people being victims of trafficking. By listening to Ms. Sasaki talk at this café, I felt I’d like to take a step forward using correct information to create a society where we can all live together in harmony.(Mariko Yamaoka)

Vol. 2 “From the Kabukicho Nightlife District – Trafficking in Persons (Sexual Exploitation) and Countermeasures”

(NFSJ Café #22, October 21, 2020)
Guest Speaker: Mr. Arata Sakamoto (President, NPO Rescue Hub)
Held online

This NFSJ Café was held online with Mr. Arata Sakamoto, President of the NPO “Rescue Hub” as the guest lecturer. Mr. Sakamoto was previously a staff member of NFSJ. I have always admired his sincere personality and passion to stop human trafficking, so I have always shared his Facebook posts and information. There are people in this world who do things that cannot be so easily imitated. Arata Sakamoto is one such person.

Kabukicho, Shinjuku is the largest entertainment district in Japan. He has been making nighttime rounds there alone for the past three years. Whether it is a freezing cold winter night or a sweltering night during the Coronavirus pandemic, he is there to help those in need. Many of these women, who say they have no choice but to work in the entertainment district due to economic hardship, are well-educated and have lived fairly normal lives. They are suffering from sexual exploitation, domestic violence and other difficulties that are difficult to discuss with others. However, they are not willing to seek help themselves. Mr. Sakamoto patiently goes around the city at night and gives them a hand warmer, cleansing paper, masks and a consultation card with his contact information on it. In this way, as they gradually learn his face, he is able to connect them to public and private support organizations.

Mr. Sakamoto himself says that what he wants to turn his eyes away from most is the issue of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. That is why he decided to tackle these problems. There’s no need to ask the question, “Why are you here?“ What is needed is his determination to stand by them to the very end. This is where a relationship of trust can be born, which can eventually lead to support. (Namura Michiyo)

Please refer to the NFSJ website for more information.

Vol.1 The Reason Why We Hold NFSJ Cafes

On July 2, NFSJ celebrated 11 years of activities. We are a group of ordinary, non-professional citizens, who have been working under the motto of “Do what you can when you can,” with a “No!” to human trafficking. The “NFSJ Café” was born from this background.

When I joined NFSJ, I had no experience or knowledge of the issue of human trafficking (HT) and modern-day slavery. The first two or three NFSJ Cafés were voluntary study sessions for us, but soon we decided to make them public events so that we could learn together with others. We thought, “what we want to know, others would want to know too”.

The name “café” rather than “study group” has a meaning. HT is a serious issue. Many people in the world lose their lives due to this crime. Even if their lives are spared, many victims are forced to live with trauma, having suffered great physical and psychological wounds in addition to being exploited.

Nevertheless, we wanted to call this group by the light-hearted name of “café” because we want people to feel free to join us. We want people to ask questions like, “What is trafficking in persons?” We welcome those who come with the motive of “I don’t know anything about it, but I am interested in it.”

In Japan, HT is still not well known. We believe that one of the solutions to this is to lower the barriers as much as possible and increase the number of people who know about this issue.

We also hope that people will become aware of the fact that HT is common and happening in our daily lives, similar to enjoying a cup of tea at a café.

The NFSJ Café has been held 28 times in total as of May 2022. Some of the topics we have covered may not seem to be related to HT at first glance. However, HT is intricately intertwined with various issues in society, including climate change, war, refugees and immigrants, domestic violence and neglect, economic disparity, racism, and sexism. We believe that by learning about these issues, we can better understand the problem of HT and aim for solutions.

July 30 is the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons designated by the United Nations. We would like to take this opportunity to send you reports of various themes over the next month, looking back on the times that have left a lasting impression on the NFSJ staff. We sincerely hope that everyone who reads these reports will participate in future NFSJ Cafés.

July 30, 2022
Nozomi Kuriyama (NFSJ Assistant Director)