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Google “boys trafficking in Japan”, and you’re likely to end up with little or no results. There might be some references to the child pornography legislation or cases involving children in general, but it is quite rare to find something that deals specifically with boys.

Does that mean that boys in Japan are not subjected to child sex trafficking? No. The 2020 Trafficking In Persons report makes it clear that boys of various nationalities (including Japanese) are being sex trafficked in Japan:

Enjo kosai or “compensated dating” services and variants of the “JK” business, often with ties to organized crime, continue to facilitate the sex trafficking of Japanese boys and girls; underage youth from China, South Korea, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam are also reportedly exploited in these establishments. - 2020 TIP report

The sex trafficking of boys under 18 is a very real, but hidden problem. Perhaps it is because the idea of a boy or man being the victim of a sex crime is still a new concept to society. The Penal Code in Japan was only amended as recently as 2017 to include men in the definition of rape victim, and we probably still have a long way to go before recognizing boys and men as victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

So how do young boys fall in the trap?

One of the most common ways is through online games. Traffickers identify innocent young boys as their targets, and then set up a fake profile pretending to be just another player within a similar age group. The fake profile and message exchanges are highly convincing, and even parents can easily be fooled thinking that the other player is indeed a child living down the road.

Once a trust relationship is established with the child, traffickers often take the discussion offline through other platforms such as LINE, where they focus on extracting sensitive information and isolating the child from