One story that left netizens confused this week was a particularly interesting ruling by a Tokyo district judge.
The Judge in question ruled that a woman who managed a club — who are often colloquially known as a “club mamma” or “mamma-san” — could not be sued for adultery by the wife of a man she’d had a seven year affair with because she had only done it to improve her business. The Judge likened this to an indirect form of prostitution, where the club mamma was providing a service to the married man and in return would get better clientele at her club. He further added that prostitution does not “disturb the harmony of married life”.
Umm, just one thing, Your Honor.
As netizens point out, prostitution is illegal in Japan under the 1956 Anti-Prostitution Law (baishun bōshi hō). What’s more the precedent set by the ruling makes it seem that if a man visits a club and intends to have sex with a woman he can pay for it indirectly just by visiting the club. Which puts women working in clubs in a pretty difficult situation, to say the least.
2ch netizens think the ruling is the craziest yet to come out of the district courts.
From Asahi Digital:
Wife Sues Ginza Club ‘Mamma’ Who ‘Slept Her Way To The Top’ With Husband, Application For Compensation Refused By Judge
Has the manageress, or “mamma” of a club who “slept her way to the top” by having sex with a customer to ensure good quality clients in her club done anything unlawful as regards that customer’s wife? On this issue, the Tokyo District Court judged that “In the same way as prostitution, this is no more than sexual intercourse as part of business, and in no way disturbs the harmony of couple’s married life”. The Court therefore rejected an application for compensation from the customer’s wife.
The judgment was handed down in April last year. During the trial, the man’s wife sued for 4,000,000 yen [approx. $] in compensation from the club manageress, the “mamma” of a club in Tokyo’s Ginza district, for having repeatedly had sexual intercourse with the woman’s husband, the CEO of a company.
Judge Shiseki Masamitsu raised the example of prostitution, indicating that even if a prostitute has sexual intercourse with a client who has a wife, and is paid accordingly, then all the prostitute has done is respond to the clients request as part of her business. He pointed out that “This does not damage the harmony of married life, and even if the situation makes the wife feel uncomfortable, that does not mean it is illegal”.
Moreover, the Judge stated that by sleeping with someone to get ahead in business, the woman “was doing business by responding to the customer’s needs by having sexual intercourse with him in order to secure good clients for her club”, and pointed out that “It is a publicly acknowledged fact that there is no shortage of people who sleep their way to the top”. The judge ruled that since “the client entered the woman’s club and paid his bill, the cost of sleeping with the woman was being indirectly paid”, and therefore “the difference between sleeping your way to the top and actual prostitution is nothing more than a question of whether the quid pro quo is paid directly or indirectly”.
According to the judgment the man and the woman routinely went to a hotel after eating lunch together, and then parted in the evenings. They would do this once or twice per month, usually on Saturdays, between 2005 and 2012. Since during this period the man went to the woman’s club with the same frequency, Judge Shiseki ruled that it was “Typical of someone doing business through sexual intercourse” and rejected the wife’s application. The judgment was adopted without an appeal from the wife.
According to Aoshima Katsuyuki, the lawyer representing the wife, the wife’s legal team claimed that it was “adultery”, while the woman’s side denied that sexual intercourse had taken place. Aoshima stated that “The judge wrote his ruling on the point of ‘business through sexual intercourse’ due to his own unilateral opinion, neither side claimed this to be the case at all. Even in the lawsuit itself, the opinions of those involved were not sought, and the whole thing was decided in only two sessions. We did not appeal because that was not my client’s will, but this is an unfair judgment”.
According to lawyer Tamura Hayato, who specializes in lawsuits concerning divorce and adultery, in legal precedent it would generally be the case that if the woman had carnal relations with a man knowing that he had a wife, then both would bear responsibility for compensating the wife. In cases where the responsibility such as prostitution where the responsibility lies heavily with the husband, there is a tendency to reduce the amount of compensation that the woman would pay; however, fundamentally it would still be judged as a tort. Aoshima told us that this judgment “Differs from the conventional framework for judgments, and one feels that it is even veering too far from what is commonly acceptable in society. Perhaps there were some special facts in this case, but it doesn’t seem that this judgment will stick”. (Chiba Yutaka)
Comments from 2ch.net:
This is awful
Groundbreaking stuff w
Huh? Isn’t prostitution illegal?
So she’s getting called a prostitute www
Hasn’t he basically just given the seal of approval to the idea that sex is included in what the customer pays? w
This judge is committing adultery with a woman from a club.
Prostitution does not disturb the harmony of married life.
Right, so he’s saying that going to sex workers is not grounds for divorce.
Had sexual intercourse repeatedly over a 7-year period → Did not harm married life.
Doesn’t make a bit of sense wwwwwwwwwwwwww
Once more unto the Ginza my friends!
So that means it’s ok to sleep with people for work.
Incredible judgment. I thought this was something from The Onion.
Riiight, so it’s OK to have sex with those girls who work at bars then?
And what’s more, there’s no additional fee.
Club mamma= whore
That’s what he’s saying, right?
I think it would be hilarious if the club mamma now sues the judge for calling her a prostitute.
I don’t really get this judgment at all.
Kinda surprised that a judge is legitimizing prostitution.
So he’s saying that buying prostitutes has no effect on the family?
She’s not going to appeal?
I wish she would, I’d like to see how that turns out.