Japanese tabloids' reports of tourist sex habits 'vent anti-Chinese feeling'
Japanese tabloids' claims of ban from red-light districts 'an outlet for anti-Chinese sentiment'
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Reports about the supposed sexual habits of Chinese tourists and the problems they are causing in Japan's red-light districts have been dismissed as simply another way for the tabloids here to belittle the Chinese.
Two of Japan's biggest-selling monthly magazines - Cyzo and the Shukan Post - have both run similar stories in their latest editions critical of Chinese men looking for sex in Japan.
Under the headline "Wealthy Chinese paramours get to do anything they want in Japanese sex shops", the Shukan Post describes the behaviour of the visitors as "a national insult to Japan".
Interviewing sex industry workers, the story claims Chinese men often bring their computers to brothels, show the woman a Japanese adult video and then demand the same sort of service.
One of the most popular requests is to be able to eat sushi off a naked woman, it reports.
Cyzo claims that "soaplands" - the erotic bathhouses that are a staple of Japan's red-light districts - in the infamous Yoshiwara brothel quarter of Tokyo have introduced a blanket ban on Chinese customers due to "cultural differences".
An employee of one of the establishments said the language difficulties were hard to overcome and that Chinese men did not understand the payment system. They assumed the entrance fee, typically Y15,000 (HK$1,142), was the full price and became angry when they were required to pay Y30,000 (HK$2,284) for the ministrations of the "awa hime", or foam princess.
The Chinese also lack the appropriate manners, the magazine reports, as they insist on being able to take photos of their experiences, despite signs clearly stating photography is banned.
"There have been quarrels," the employee said. "So as of now, Chinese tourists are not allowed to enter."
But Mark Schreiber, an American translator who covers the Japanese media, said it was hypocritical of Japan to pick faults with foreign sex tourists, given the notoriety that Japanese men earned during trips to Southeast Asian countries when Japan's economy was riding high.
He said of the reports in Cyzo and Shukan Post that these sorts of stories were "gradually coming to the surface now because anti-Chinese sentiment is so strong".
"There is a readership for this sort of story and people here want to read about how good the Japanese are and how bad the Chinese are," he said. "I suppose it's better than going to war."
But there is some truth in suggestions that foreigners are not welcome in Japan's red-light districts - even when businesses are struggling and arguably need all the money they can get.
"Foreigners in general have not had easy access since the Aids scare of the 1980s, but it's not the girls that mind," Schreiber said. "It's the management that objects because they fear it will alienate their Japanese customers."