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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien


Compensated Dating (enjo kōsai) - Moral panic vs. critical discourse?How Japanese magazines and contemporary literature deal with a social phenomenon

10. June 1999

Katja Cassing Nakamura, Universität Trier

Enjo kōsai, one keyword of the nineties, is oftenassociated with loose socks, short skirts, dyed hair, pocketbells and prostitution quote;in shortquote; with a scandalous social problem that desperately needs diagnosesand solutions.


In my paper, however, I argue that this quote;scandalous social problemquote;  has been created by the media, which in the process of  quote;manufacturing newsquote; provides us with a lens through which reality is seen. It focuses on certainevents, it obscures or obfuscates others, it leads to certain questionsbeing asked and others being ignored giving us a quote;frame of referencequote; inwhich events are interpreted.

After a short introductory passage on the phenomenon itself, I willanalyze the representation of enjo kōsai in Japanese magazines, arguingthat the discourse unfolds in a three step process, scandalizing the phenomenoninstead of critically dealing with it.

Whether or not critical discussion is realized in a different form ofdiscourse, namely literary discourse, will be the central question of thefinal part of my presentation where I examine Murakami Ryū’s novelLove & Pop (1996).