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Preying on the Vulnerable: Japan’s “Schoolgirl Escort” IndustryIshikawa Yūki

For some high school girls, smartphones seem to open the doors to a world of lucrative part-time jobs providing a range of services to older male customers. Many girls are tempted by the promise of good money for easy work. But what is the truth about these shady businesses that have grown up to exploit the demand for schoolgirl escort services?

Smartphones and Teens: Consumed by ConnectednessIshikawa Yūki

Japanese teenagers have grown ever more reliant on smartphones to cement the social relationships so important to their sense of self-worth. But for some, constant connectedness can morph into an onerous burden or even a consuming addiction. Ishikawa Yūki draws on her journalistic experience to shed light on such hazards.

Six Men Arrested for Molesting Boys; Victims Likely Total 168 (News)

Tokyo, Feb. 9 (Jiji Press)—The Kanagawa prefectural police department and other police forces have arrested a group of six men for allegedly molesting boys and creating child pornography. A total of 168 boys, aged from 4 to 13, from nine prefectures are believed to have been victimized. The suspects facing charges of forcible indecency and violating the laws banning child prostitution and ch…

Japan Starts Big Data Research on Babies (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 31 (Jiji Press)—Japan's National Center for Child Health and Development said Tuesday that it has started joint research into babies' growth, development and habits utilizing big data on child-rearing acquired through a smartphone application. The center will analyze data on over 100,000 babies, including sleep lengths and the number of defecations, to find out how babies' growth p…

Children’s Cafeterias: Filling the Void for Kids Who Can’t Eat at HomeKanazawa Masumi

A growing number of “children’s cafeterias” across Japan are offering meals at little or no cost to children, mainly from single-parent households, who are not sufficiently fed at home. Kanazawa Masumi, an expert on child welfare, reports on measures that are being taken to tackle the multifaceted problems of child poverty.

Supporting Children’s Entitlement to Family-Based Care

Doi Kanae opened Human Rights Watch’s first office in Asia seven years ago. Today she is actively engaged in drawing attention to the plight of children who are institutionalized because they are unable to live with their parents and promoting their right to receive family-based care.

Child Poverty, the Grim Legacy of DenialAbe Aya

Foreign tourists visiting Japan see clean, safe city streets filled with neat, well-dressed people. They encounter almost none of the familiar signs of urban poverty, such as slums decorated with gang-related graffiti or homeless people begging in the streets. These outward appearances have helped maintain Japan’s international reputation for economic fairness and equality. It is an image the Japa…

The Tightly Regulated “Independence” of Japanese ChildrenJames Singleton

A spate of recent reports in the Western press (including a video documentary) have noted the independence of Japan’s youngest commuters—elementary-school students and even younger children. This independence is held up in contrast with the lack of similar freedom in many other nations, particularly the United States, which has been singled out as particularly unfriendly to the “free-range child.”…


Shichi-Go-San (literally “seven-five-three”) is a Japanese custom observed on November 15 in which five-year-old boys and three- and seven-year old girls visit shrines to pray for health and prosperity as they grow.

Sexual Crimes Against Children on the Rise

Crimes targeting children younger than 13 fell in 2004–12, but this trend reversed in 2013, with the number of reported cases increasing by 1,327 to reach 26,939. Standing out among these figures are incidents of abductions and related crimes, which totaled 103. These figures confront us with the question of whether society is doing enough to keep children safe.

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