Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The history of prostitution in Japan may be traced to the eighth century. Originally, prostitutes carried on their trade individually and independently. Around the thirteenth century, however, the nature of prostitution changed, as prostitutes formed small enterprises located in red-light districts. By the seventeenth century, red-light districts existed throughout Japan.

In 1900, the Japanese government, realizing the widespread proliferation of the prostitution industry, passed the Regulation for Control of Prostitutes. The law regulated prostitution nationwide by requiring prostitutes to register with local government authorities and to undergo regular health inspections. This system continued until the end of World War Two, when, under pressure from the U.S. Occupation Forces, Japan abolished legalized prostitution and enacted the current Antiprostitution Law.

Today, notwithstanding the Antiprostitution Law, prostitution is a booming industry in Japan. This Note focuses specifically on the recent growth in Japanese teen prostitution among teenage girls. Although the exact cause of the problem is not easily determined, legislatures throughout Japan have held terekura, or telephone clubs, responsible.

This Note analyzes whether the existing laws, including recently passed legislation, will provide an adequate framework to resolve the current Japanese teenage prostitution problem. Part II discusses the history of prostitution and its control in Japan. Part III discusses the societal factors that have led to the recent outbreak of teen prostitution. Part IV analyzes the existing laws and their inability to provide a viable legal framework for the current problem. Finally, Part V suggests legal solutions based on both existing laws and proposed statutes.