Japan’s first ‘alibi-ya’ busted in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward

“Alibi-ya” is a uniquely Japanese service that skirts the boundaries of legality. Its typical function is to assist women in concealing their participation in the world’s oldest profession by providing them, for a set fee, with a respectable identity. The alternate identity is mainly used to conceal knowledge of the women’s employment from their families. The alibi-ya, upon request, will provide women with spurious tax payment certificates and other documentation needed to lease apartments or secure loans.

In recent years the service has also been alleged to create false identities for foreigners lacking legal status in Japan.

Nikkan Gendai (Sep. 8) reports the first known incident of an alibi-ya being busted. According to the police, Tatsuhiro Sawada, the 64-year-old president of a construction company, and Shiori Suzuki, a 27-year-old woman with no visible means of support were arrested in Sapporo, Hokkaido on charges of fraud. Specifically, between January and April of 2010, Suzuki transferred a total of 56 million yen to Sawada’s account as settlement for the purchase of a local building.

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