April 24, 1998
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Survey disputes `enjo-kosai' hype

Asahi Shimbun

Despite extravagant media attention on what many had perceived to be a widespread phenomenon, only 5 percent of high school girls admitted taking part in enjo-kosai--accepting money from middle-aged men for dates that sometimes include having sexual intercourse--according to a survey.

Ninety percent of the survey total said they feel uncomfortable about engaging in sex for money in such a situation, while 60 percent feel uncomfortable about the dating itself.

In the past few years, enjo-kosai has been the center of media attention, bringing criticism and calls for ethics education for girls who sell their bodies to buy expensive brand-name clothing.

The survey was carried out by Mamoru Fukutomi, a psychology professor at Tokyo Gakugei University. The Asian Women's Fund asked the professor to carry out the survey in October and announced the results Thursday. About 960 high school girls were chosen at random, of which 63 percent, or 600, responded.

Of the girls who had experienced enjo-kosai, 2.3 percent said they had sex, 2.3 percent engaged in sexual activities other than sexual intercourse (for example, kissing or oral sex) and 4.8 percent said they merely talked or had drinks with their dates.

Professor Fukutomi says he feels the actual number of girls engaged in these activities is fewer than the media plays it up to be.

As reasons they gave for selling their time and bodies to older men, 13 girls said they wanted money, four did it because a man suggested it, three girls thought it caused no problems with anyone else, three did it for fun, two did it because they knew they could quit at anytime.

One girl said she wanted stimulation, another was lonely, another just let it happen without much thought, while another said she needed to blow off some steam and another girl wanted to have sex. In the survey, the respondents were allowed to give multiple answers.

Asked how they felt after dating middle-aged men, nine said they regretted it, another nine answered that they were disgusted with the men, six worried about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, five felt they couldn't tell anyone about it, four felt bad for their parents, two thought about doing it again, one felt she could never go back to living a normal life and one felt nothing of it.

Girls who experienced enjo-kosai or feel no qualms about it tend to be susceptible to the media and their peers; or indifferent about their future and afraid of getting old; or feel that being a high school girl has a brand-name quality, Professor Fukutomi has analyzed.

He said to stop girls from prostituting themselves one must teach them that men and women are equals and change the society into one that respects and values young women.

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