Japanese police are investigating the inner workings of the nation’s alibi-ya industry, reported ABC News on Monday, after officials busted two alibi-ya clients for using false documents to obtain a large bank loan.
The Alibi-ya industry is technically legal according to Japanese law, and helps the nation’s sex workers to conceal their real job from their families by creating a completely fictitious occupation for them – which comes with fake business cards, references, employment certificates, and tax receipts.
According to ABC News, some companies have even been known to provide a fake boss to attend their clients’ family events; while other companies create additional phone lines whereby a parent who called their daughter at her ‘office’ would be greeted by a receptionist who would then explain that their daughter was in a meeting.
"Women who work in the sex industry or as a hostess don't want their father and mother to find out about it, and so we get many requests asking us to please create a more respectable identity," said Shintaro Sakamoto, who runs an alibi-ya in Tokyo.
“The alibi-ya are the marketplace's way of reconciling a shame society – one that emphasizes peer pressure and public shame to achieve good behaviour – with what are regarded as shameful industries,” added Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times in an article written in 1999.
“Japan, more than most industrialized countries, has strict bounds of propriety and plenty of minders to see that they are adhered to. As everywhere, they often are not.”
Related: Japan Economy
Yet, the industry is facing increased scrutiny after the police claimed that some clients were using false documents to commit fraud.
"Under Japanese law alibi companies are not – on the face of it – illegal," the national police agency said in a statement.
"It is difficult to expose possible illegality by these firms such as fraud and the counterfeiting of documents… If we could, we would crack down on them,” the statement said.
Sakamoto however insisted that his company maintained a strict enforcement policy with their clients, who often face condemnation from other parts of society as well.
Real estate agents and nursery schools may reject their clients from renting an apartment or admitting their clients’ children into their schools, said Sakamoto.
"We don't provide this service when it's clear from the beginning that the purpose is for fraud, assets or money. We limit cases to those clients who simply want to hide their work from their family,” he added.