Cambodia Charges Japanese Man in Sex Trafficking Case

An image captured from a 2014 video showing one of the many hostess clubs or love hotels in Tokyo's Kabukicho red-light district, Japan. Image: TravelsWithLobo / YouTube

PHNOM PENH — A Japanese man and two Cambodians were charged Tuesday with allegedly tricking Cambodian women into working in the sex trade in Japan.

They could face seven to 15 years in prison if convicted of “unlawful recruitment for exploitation,” said Ly Sophana, a spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

A statement posted Monday on the Cambodian National Police website said Susumu Fukui, the 52-year-old owner of a Japanese restaurant in Phnom Penh, was arrested last week on suspicion of luring at least 10 women from provincial areas to work in Japan, ostensibly as well-paid waitresses, but then forcing them into the sex trade. Also arrested were his 28-year-old Cambodian wife and a 34-year-old male employee of the restaurant.

The website said the arrests followed the rescue of seven of the women by Japanese police after they secretly contacted the Cambodian Embassy in Tokyo. The women returned to Cambodia late last month.

Police said the Japanese man and his wife told the women they recruited that they would earn USD $3,000 to USD $5,000 a month in Japan. On arrival, however, they were sent to Gunma prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, where they were forced to work in the sex trade.

Japanese newspapers reported that after the women were freed, the authorities there made three arrests, of two Japanese men and a Thai woman, for forcing them into prostitution.