Corporate Hostess-isation of Women in Japanese White-Collar Work

Dr Caroline Norma1

1RMIT, , Australia

Only recently, with the onset of the #MeToo Movement, has the sexual harassment of women in mainstream work been considered in terms of prostitution. The sex acts demanded of American female entertainment industry hopefuls by men like Harvey Weinstein raised awareness of the vulnerability of women in the labour market to sexual solicitations from men with power over their careers, incomes and professional reputations. It is now more recognised that women are sometimes forced to acquiesce to the continuing sexual demands of these men to survive. As yet, though, the prostitution aspects of the man-made world of work have been considered only in individual, one-on-one terms. The prospect that women’s sexual exploitation is structurally embedded in capitalist labour markets is not yet an insight of #MeToo. This presentation will describe features of Japan’s labour market developing since the high-speed growth era that have structured female prostitution and sexual exploitation as part of mainstream white-collar work.


Caroline Norma lectures in the Master of Translation and Interpreting degree at RMIT University. She researches histories of military and civilian prostitution systems in Asia and Australia from a feminist abolitionist perspective. Her research is translated in Japanese and Korean, and her two sole-authored books influence the direction of advocacy movements in support of the ‘comfort women’ around the world. Her current project investigates prostitution perpetrated by Japanese, Australian and American military men during the war in New Guinea between 1942 and 1945.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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