Japanese Sex Workers Going Overseas’ Uncovers Motivations Amid Safety Risks | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Japanese Sex Workers Going Overseas’ Uncovers Motivations Amid Safety Risks

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Increased numbers of migrant sex workers have led to stricter immigration checks for female tourists.

The topic of Japanese sex workers working abroad is gaining attention. Last September, when a female influencer was denied entry to Hawaii, it sparked discussion online, revealing that similar cases have been occurring frequently due to the increasing number of Japanese women traveling abroad for prostitution purposes.

Furthermore, last year, there was a social media trend dubbed the Laos incident, where high-paying recruitment for sex work in Laos circulated online. This led to the Japanese Embassy in Laos issuing warnings.


Why do these women take the risk to work abroad? A recent publication, ”Report: Japanese Sex Workers Working Abroad” (by Kasumi Matsuoka, Asahi Shimbun), delves into this for the first time. We spoke to Matsuoka about the realities of these sex workers’ overseas work.

“The exact number of Japanese sex workers going overseas to work is uncertain. However, in recent years, there has been a significant increase in cases where young Japanese women intending to visit for tourism are being denied entry, although the number of such consultations with visa experts and administrative scriveners seems to be increasing.

Furthermore, it’s been reported that last year, a Japanese support organization functioning as a consultation point for those working in the sex industry received a request from a support organization in Australia for Japanese-language pamphlets because there’s been an increase in Japanese sex workers working locally. Taking such discussions into account, it seems that the number of Japanese women traveling overseas for work purposes has increased significantly in recent years.”

According to the women interviewed by Matsuyama, many of them began their work around 5 to 10 years ago. Some women mentioned that the trigger for their decision was the inability to earn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were also discussions before COVID-19 about how you can earn more overseas. What kind of women are aiming for work overseas?



“The common aspect among the women I actually spoke to was that they had some level of success, having originally had experience in the sex industry and being part of the demographic that was earning relatively well. They went abroad with the aim of achieving even greater success. 


Currently, there are many advertisements for overseas work opportunities, such as in X, but the women I spoke to seemed different from those who might casually decide to go after seeing such enticing offers. “

The most common destinations for travel are said to be the United States, Canada, and Australia. The reason for their popularity is apparently because they offer relatively low risks of being caught and enable consistent earnings. While names like Singapore and Hong Kong are also mentioned, they are less frequently chosen compared to the aforementioned three countries.

So, how much can they earn? Examples from the women featured in this book include earning $50,000 (approximately 7.35 million yen at the current rate as of March 11) per trip or $20,000 (approximately 2.94 million yen) per month, indicating quite lucrative figures. However, it seems that the earnings vary depending on the individual woman’s specs.

“From what I heard from agents, daily income is estimated to be relatively low, ranging from 150,000 to 250,000 yen. According to another agent, in the case of Australia, it’s typical to serve 6 to 12 clients per day, earning between 1,500 to 3,000 Australian dollars (approximately 150,000 to 290,000 yen). However, there are significant differences depending on factors such as age and appearance. The rates at brothels vary by country, but it seems that they are 2 to 5 times higher than those in Japan, with higher rates overall overseas.”

The increase in working overseas can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, Japan has become a “cheap country” compared to others due to recession and deflation, while prices and wages in other countries have risen. The yen has also depreciated, resulting in an increase in foreign tourists. Consequently, there’s a growing trend of looking abroad because you can earn more outside Japan. This trend isn’t limited to the sex industry. Additionally, Mr. Matsuoka points out two more reasons.


“In the past, the exchange of sex was often seen as a symbol of decline. However, that perception has changed, and it has become more common for ordinary women to work in the industry. With an increase in the number of people working in the sex industry, there’s been a polarization between those who can earn well and those who cannot. Consequently, those who couldn’t earn as they wished or those who wanted to earn more are turning their attention to working overseas.

Another reason is the development of social media. With the use of social media, individuals can connect with clients without going through a brothel, thereby expanding their customer base. On the other hand, those who are truly freelancers may interact directly with overseas establishments or attract clients globally through their own meticulously crafted websites showcasing their unique style. Additionally, information about overseas opportunities from individuals posing as agents or scouts is becoming increasingly visible not only to sex workers but also to the general public on platforms like social media, contributing to the spread of such opportunities.”


In this book, the six sex workers going overseas interviewed by Matsuoka discuss their backgrounds and how they came to work in the sex industry abroad. Some had difficult relationships with their parents and had to become financially independent at a young age, while others started in the industry somewhat casually because of the potential earnings. The motivations leading to working overseas all boil down to money, but along the way, some found new goals and have since started different careers, while others discovered their potential in the industry itself.

Although some have faced risky situations, the women depicted here could be considered successful at this point. However, as a fundamental premise, Matsuyama emphasizes that what they are doing constitutes illegal employment.

“At this point, even those who seem successful are constantly at risk. They could be caught at any time, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all. There’s a real possibility of facing dangerous situations. They might not even get paid despite working. However, because they’re working illegally, they can’t turn to the police for help. Such stories don’t come to light.

The women have heard stories of being assaulted, robbed of their belongings, having their passports taken away and being forced to work, or even being drugged unknowingly by clients with drug addictions. While they might have some awareness of these risks, there’s still an element of leaving it to chance. It’s incredibly risky, I think.

Furthermore, considering the current recession in Japan, the trend of working overseas is likely to increase. While for some individuals, the returns may seem higher than the risks, cases like Japanese women being denied entry for tourism purposes during overseas trips could become a significant issue for Japan as a whole. In the future, obtaining visas might become more difficult. We shouldn’t just brush it off as long as we don’t get caught; we need to consider the possibility that it could escalate into a much bigger problem.”

It’s likely that the number of women aiming to work overseas will continue to increase in the future. We can only hope that these women won’t become prey to someone or face tragedy.

Reporto Dekigari Japanese Sex Workers” (Report on Japanese Sex Workers) by Kasumi Matsuoka (Asahi Shinsho)

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