Japanese AV Actresses Expose Coercion in Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry

Japanese AV Actresses Expose Coercion in Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry
Photo Credit:翻攝自Saki Kouzai

What you need to know

Approximately 20,000 pornographic videos are released in Japan each year. And not all actresses are willing participants.

New details are emerging about Japanese women who were forced to work in the country's multi-billion-dollar pornography industry, sometimes against their will.

In recent interviews with Agence France-Presse (AFP), several Japanese women said they were “tricked into porn,” mostly by recruiters with “promises of showbiz stardom.”

Saki Kozai told AFP she was 24 when a “model scout” approached her and offered her a job she later found “required her to have sex on camera.”

“I couldn’t take off my clothes. All I could do was cry,” said the now 30-year-old Kozai. “There were about 20 people around me, waiting. No woman could say ‘no’ when they’re surrounded like that.”

In June, three talent scouts were arrested and accused of forcing a woman to appear in more than 100 pornographic videos. The incident prompted an industry association to issue a formal apology in response to related allegations.

The Intellectual Property Promotion Association said it was "deeply sorry not to have taken any active action of our own volition," according to the BBC.

Last year Human Rights Now (HRN) started investigating the damage caused by the use of force and coercion in pornographic videos in Japan.

Through interviews with the victims and related support groups, HRN found that the women were threatened with remarks such as “you can’t refuse the work since it’s required under contract,” “if you refuse the work, you have to pay penalty charges for defaults,” or “we’ll inform your parents about your work (if you don’t take the job)," according to its report released in March.

The report also said there was no authority regulating production companies or personnel in the industry, and unlawful practices “often slip through the legal net.”

However, increasingly more AV actresses are stepping out to shed light on the issue.

Former porn star-turned-writer Mariko Kawana started an organization this year calling for standardized and transparent contracts with actresses.

“Every adult movie company has its own rules — it should be unified to protect the rights of actresses,” Kawana told AFP.

According to HRN, it is estimated that as many as 20,000 pornographic videos are released annually, and the market size of the industry reaches between 400 billion and 500 billion yen (US$38 billion to US$48 billion) annually.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole