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Cops busting barkers pitching club services

Date Posted: 2007-09-04

A police crackdown against barkers trying to hustle customers into bars, cabarets and night clubs is under way across Okinawa.
Prefecture Police teamed with Naha City Police beginning last Saturday to rid entertainment districts of men who often used irritating and often unsavory tactics in efforts to get customers to visit the clubs they represented. More than 170 plain clothes police participated in the opening weekend sting operation, arresting the first men within minutes of the start.
Soliciting customers to snacks, bars, cabarets or night clubs is illegal now under a Prefecture regulation. Some barkers were visibly angry about the new law, asking police “Why can’t we stand on the street? What’s wrong with standing on the street?
The quick police response was “No, in your case you’re trying to catch customers, then trying to solicit them. That’s against the law now.” A barker’s salary is typically ¥140,000~160,000 a month, paid by the club, bar or cabaret. Police say more than 150 barkers are working the streets in Naha City’s downtown area, with most concentrated in the Matsuyama area, a popular entertainment district.
“I tried getting a day job doing office work,” said one barker, “but I failed the entry test so I became a barker. If I lose this job,” he told police, “I have no idea how I can live without a job.” He called the new rules “much too strict for us.”
Law enforcement and city officials counter the barkers give Okinawa a bad image to tourists, who frequently complain “barkers go to people putting on them too high pressure”. The sales pitch “Hey! Come to our club, where we have beautiful hostesses and drinks are not expensive,” is hard sell. Police say the barkers often block tourists’ way and even pull at their clothes, even after tourists tell them they’re not interested.
Barkers, police say, then get upset and talk badly to tourists. Barkers “insult the tourists, call them stingy persons or poor guys,” police say.

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