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The Unexpected Way Japanese Male Hosts Ruin The Lives Of Their Female Customers

Here’s what’s happening.

Japanese women are at risk of being exploited by the same male hosts they go to for comfort.

In Kabukicho, Japan, host clubs make a fortune by luring customers into their establishment with hosts—in this case, men who romance women with sweet talk and alcohol.

These women are often in vulnerable situations, such as Mirai Kisaragi who ran away from home at 14 years old. She found her “savior,” a male host, four years later, and soon became a regular at his club.

He was a really good listener, so I told him everything about myself. Whenever I opened the door of the host club to see him, he would say ‘welcome home’—something no one had ever said to me at home.

— Kisaragi

Unfortunately, behind the glitz and glamor is an industry that exploits its own customers.

1. Debt

The most obvious way male host clubs do this is by driving them into debt. People who flock to their establishment pay based on a credit system. By not shelling out money on a per drink basis, they are prone to overspending.

I always warn girls about the price tag before they order drinks so getting into debt is really their choice.

— Male host in Kabukicho

As most customers are women from vulnerable backgrounds, they are easy targets for the clubs.

Young and poor women from single-parent families, for example, make the most lucrative targets for them.

—  Kazuna Kanajiri, head of Tokyo-based advocacy group PAPS

2. Prostitution

As a result of being left with thousands of dollars worth of debt, the women are coerced into entering the sex industry by the very hosts they paid money to see. Hidemori Gen, the founder of a support group for parents, called the cash flow between hosts, scouts and sex businesses “straight-up human trafficking.”

‘This woman must be worth 20 million yen’ ($140,000). That’s the kind of thinking upon which host clubs exist.

—  Hidemori Gen

Kisaragi was installed in a “net cafe” by the very host she fell in love with, becoming a prostitute. Not only did he collect all of her profits like a pimp, but she continued to wrack up debt by visiting the host club, thus relegating her into a cycle of financial slavery.

What the host was really doing was to manage me as a prostitute. But I naively thought back then that he had given me a job and a smartphone on the spot. He looked like a savior to me then.

— Kisaragi

140 Japanese women were arrested in the Kabukicho district in 2023 for alleged prostitution. Of this number, 43% were women who went into prostitution to pay for host services that they had availed.

Kisaragi now does outreach work in Kabukicho, helping young women like her avoid the life she lived.



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