While the recession is driving some women in the U.S. into the sex industry, it's pushing Japan's young ladies into the less extreme but nevertheless historically taboo work of hostessing. We aren't talking about simply standing at the front of a restaurant and politely seating customers; the country's hostesses are professional flirts often paid big bucks to party, chat up customers and look pretty in gentlemen's clubs. (And, depending on who you ask, they are sometimes pressured into sex for money.)
Paying anywhere from $100,000 to $300,00o a year, they are "among the most lucrative jobs available to women" in Japan, according to a trend piece in the New York Times. Things weren't so great for women before the economic collapse -- nearly 70 percent in their early 20s held precarious positions with scant benefits -- and now they're in dire straights: "More women from a diversity of backgrounds are looking for hostess work," Kentaro Miura, a club manager in Tokyo, told the Times. The upshot: These gigs are becoming wildly competitive.
No surprise there. What's puzzling, though, is that reporter Hiroko Tabuchi also ties the recession to the fact that hostesses are "gaining respectability and even acclaim." He summarizes the situation dramatically: "Japan’s worst recession since World War II is changing mores." Certainly the recession is pushing some to consider work they wouldn't have otherwise, but it's seems a stretch to link that desperation to hostesses' rising cultural stock.
The part about girls not getting the jobs they want during a recession and having to do something else. For example, I can't find a job as an accountant or in the oil industry so now I have to clean house in a bikini. I get that.
What I don't get is, if Japan is in it's worse recession since WWII, what guy has the money to pay for these thrills like a hostess and maybe more. Are the top echelon guys in Japan still filthy rich while the rest are looking for work? Sad that they spend this foolishly while others can't make money.