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The Dark Side of the Japanese Internet. The term papakatsu has recently joined the Japanese lexicon. It refers to young women seeking out on social media and dating apps older men who are willing to shower them with gifts. Although similar to the idea of sugar dating familiar in Western countries, the Japanese expression generally implies a platonic relationship—meals, shopping, movies, but no sex.
The practice was even the focus of a smash-hit online drama series about the development of one such relationship that was later picked up by major broadcaster Fuji Television. The trend in compensated dating has spawned a slew of online services. Most attract women with boasts of male userbases filled with high income earners and prestige careers like doctors and government administrators; promises of nonsexual relations and hints that users can make hundreds of thousands of yen per month are also popular lures.
Compensated dating, even by minors, is not in itself illegal as long as it is nonsexual. Seventeen-year-old high-school student Satomi not her real name is among a growing group of young women involved in papakatsu.
Standing just over five feet tall with long black hair, she projects innocence and purity. She uses Twitter and friend-making apps to find dates, writing in her profile that she is open to sugar daddies. She is currently dating several men regularly, all full-time company employees, the youngest in his twenties and oldest in his fifties. Satomi asserts that money is not her main objective, insisting instead that she simply has an interest in older men.
She has a strict policy against sex and meeting in hotels, so men looking for a date with a sexual component have to look elsewhere. Satomi says she started compensated dating about a year ago after a person approached her on Twitter. Although people are free to take part in compensated dating as they see fit, the public generally views the practice as distasteful.