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The Odd Relationship Between Sex, Youth and Japan’s Schoolgirl Culture

Josei Kosei (High School Girl) culture has been a powerful cultural trend in Japan for decades now. However, recent attention the trend has been receiving is revealing a darker under belly of JK culture and related business that were previously hidden underneath the thin veneer of innocence, cuteness and untouched beauty. Recent crack downs and a rise in awareness are revealing an industry which has been used as a front for under aged prostitution, sex trafficking the abuse of young women. However, we must ask ourselves as to why this trend was allowed to develop and go on at a nearly neglected by the collective Japanese awareness for so long.

The answer is that josei kosei is part of a bigger trend of the sexualisation of youth, especially young girls, in Japanese pop culture. There are many factors which contribute to this issue, amongst which is the otaku community and the anime industry. In anime, manga and related video games within the realm of otaku culture, young girls are made out to represent a youth, innocence and cuteness, but are paradoxically sexualized to a demeaning degree. Animated or not, an increasing level of indecency towards women has become an accepted norm in otaku culture. As a community, we have to come together and ask ourselves some difficult questions in order to find the answers as to how otaku culture came to this point and what direction we would like to go in the future in regards to this matter.

  • I'm familiar with the Vice documentary you referenced and utilized as a springboard for your piece. I certainly believe that the Josei Kosei industry is problematic on many levels, and the documentary illustrates that well. However, the documentary fails to address pertinent questions for why any one person participates in this trade. The peculiar nature of this industry begs further understanding of the trade beyond its automatic dismissal as an exploitative practice. I hope your future pieces will address these kinds of questions and generate empathy all the while. – ZeroReq011 4 years ago
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  • Yes, it's certainly an aspect which I will take into account, that's for sure. – CheesyJ 4 years ago
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  • Wow, this is so real. It's something about corrupting the seemingly uncorruptible that we really need to take into consideration. – TierraJohnson 4 years ago
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  • Wow, what an extremely disturbing phenomenon. When I see characters like Gogo in Kill Bill (inspired by Japanese cinema) with the school uniforms, I do often feel uncomfortable about how the depiction can be both infantilizing and sexualizing the connection to youth. Good work on this. – Emily Deibler 4 years ago
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