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Monday, July 05, 2004

Daily Yomiuri On-Line Govt to check foreign women / Investigations to strengthen measures to fight human trafficking

Daily Yomiuri On-Line
Govt to check foreign women / Investigations to strengthen measures to fight human trafficking

Yomiuri Shimbun

The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau decided Saturday to conduct intensive follow-up checks on foreign women who come to Japan on entertainment visas as part of efforts to strengthen antihuman-trafficking measures.

Many of the visas are submitted by Japanese talent scouts to recruit nightclub performers.

But the United States and other countries claim Japanese promoters are using the visas to hide human trafficking.

If the task force to be created identifies malicious acts, such as sexual exploitation, criminal complaints will be filed against promoters and other parties concerned.

Human trafficking refers to transportation of persons for forced labor, sexual exploitation or other illicit activities.

The immigration bureau on June 2 searched a bar in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture, where 10 Philippine women, who had come to Japan on entertainment visas, were supposed to be working as performers.

The bureau found the women waited on customers as hostesses, which was not allowed under the visas. It was suspected the bar forced the women to have sex with customers.

In February 2003, the Metropolitan Police Department and the immigration bureau found a case of human trafficking centering around a Tokyo strip club. In the case, more than 60 Colombian women were either arrested or held in custody.

Many of the women were found to have been forced to sell themselves to repay their travel fees after coming to Japan on entertainment visas. They were solicited by a broker in Colombia to work in Japan as nightclub performers.

Entertainment visas for foreign women usually are submitted by promoters and other parties who recruit entertainers working in the country.

The immigration bureau will examine the working conditions of the women through its special team regardless of the tips it has. The bureau previously searched businesses only when tips about illegal labor practices at the places were obtained.

Regarding illegal activities, including sexual exploitation or transport of women to businesses different from those registered, no measures were taken against promoters besides such administrative measures as denying new visa applications.

The immigration bureau is expected to file a criminal complaint against promoters when illegal activities are confirmed.

According to the Justice Ministry, about 133,000 people came to Japan last year after obtaining entertainment visas. The figure is an increase of 9,700 from the previous year

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