Staff’s Essay (4) Not being a bystander (Takuya Hoshide)

It was more than 10 years ago. Every night after 10 PM, a young foreign woman was standing on a street and soliciting men near Tanashi Station, not far from where I lived. Even I myself was spoken to by her several times like “Oniisan, you want a massage?” in broken Japanese. There was always a man in the background who was watching closely over her. I often wondered why a foreign woman came all the way to Japan to prostitute herself on the street late in the night.

One day, I had an opportunity to watch the movie “Nefarious”. I was tremendously shocked in learning the terrible reality in the world: women are tricked, beaten, forced to prostitute, and treated like slaves. Also shocking was the fact that Japan was not at all the exception for the situation. The sex industries that exist in the cities as if they are natural phenomena can potentially hold this horrific reality. I realized that the woman who stood on the street in my neighborhood could be one of those victims and that such a horrendous reality could happen in my vicinity. I was ashamed of myself who had thought of her casually as if it was none of my business. I thought I should not be a bystander for this reality and I started to pray so that I can do something.

Rescuing victims would really be a heavy task and not what one can do between one’s daily jobs. Today, I still feel powerless and sad not being able to do it. But I hope I can speak up and tell other people that there is a reality in our own backyard that must not be overlooked. I really wish to speak up that behind the adult entertainment and sex industry flooding everywhere and behind many men buying young women’s sex, there is a horrific reality of human rights abuse and sex slavery.

Even Dracula the vampire dies when the sun shines on him. If the true situation is visualized before the eyes of the people, if the evil deeds of buying and selling of human beings like commodities are revealed in broad daylight, such industries will not function as industries any more. This is what I believe and this is why I continue taking part, even though little, in the activities of Not For Sale Japan.