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The Meaning of Enjo-Kousai

The Japanese word "enjo-kousai" is translated as "assisted dating" or "compensatory dating." Literally, this compound is formed of the words "enjo" and "kousai." Enjo means help, support, assistance, or aid. Kousai means company, companionship, society or friendship.

Together, though, the words have come to indicate the social phenomenon of older men dating younger women, some as young as junior high school, and paying for the privilege. The situation is dismissed by some as a way for young women and girls to earn pocket money. Others, however, have pointed out that for all purposes it is simply a new word for child prostitution.

The young women and girls involved in enjo-kousai are caught up in the trend to acquire fashionable goods and don't always see the harm or danger in going out with older men, whether sex is involved or not, and being paid for it. Media reports about the young women and girls involved in compensatory dating say they do not have sex with their clients, but only allow touching with clothes on or touching above the waist. Unfortunately, it is a small step from compensatory dating to being a full-time "call girl," to use the English phrase, and prostitute. As such, the growing incidents of enjo-kousai is a social concern for many in Japan.

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