Prostitute sends a cry for help

AN AGONISED appeal for help from a Thai woman who is being held against her will in a brothel by gangsters somewhere in Japan appeared in a Japanese newspaper this week. But no one, apart from her captors, knows where the woman is being held.

'I am a prisoner of the yakuza (gangsters), and forced into prostitution. This is hell on earth,' she wrote in a letter to her father. 'If you lose contact with me, you will know I have been killed.'

The letter, written in Thai, was apparently smuggled out of the brothel by one of the woman's clients, and had a postmark from Osaka, Japan's second largest city. A facsimile of the letter appeared in the Yomiuri newspaper, with the woman's name deleted - police fear her captors might kill her if they realise police are looking for her.

The case highlights the growing sex trade between South-east Asia and Japan, which is controlled by underworld syndicates able to circumvent the Japanese police and the immigration service. Sources in Bangkok estimate some 70,000 Thai women are working as prostitutes in Japan, many of them lured into the trade against their will with offers of jobs as maids or factory workers. Once in Japan their passports are confiscated, and speaking no Japanese and often no English, they are at the mercy of gangsters who run the sex trade.

The woman, 31, comes from Nan province in Thailand. The last time her family heard from her was August 1992, when she was preparing to go to Singapore, where a job placement agency had supposedly found her a job as a maid. She said she would send money to her relatives, who are subsistence farmers.

Instead she was taken to Japan, where she was brought in on a false visa and then 'sold' to gangsters, who took her passport. After a drive of 'about two hours' in a van with no windows she was pushed into a bar where she has been confined ever since.

According to her letter, she is not allowed out, cannot get to a telephone, and fears that if she tries to escape, 'I will be murdered'. The letter was posted in March and reached her father in April. He gave it to a Japanese businessman in Thailand, along with a photograph of his daughter. This was given to the Japanese police, who are trying to find the woman.

The letter gives the name of the bar, and says it is on an island. There are no other details. The letter ends: 'I want to go back to Thailand and live in freedom.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity now exists for a...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones