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Is swinging legal in Japan?

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Is swinging legal in Japan? On the surface it would appear that the answer is an obvious yes. As is often the case things are a little more complicated. One only need to reference the many raids on swinger clubs in Tokyo to see that.

Those used to life in a constitutional republic or under a similar system may look to the letter of the law for questions of legality. In some parts of the world however, actual practice can differ greatly from what is recorded in official documents. So you can end up with people being arrested for an act that is officially legal.

inside a japanese swinger club

Law enforcement in most countries also has the ability to arrest people for potential catch-all charges like “disturbing the peace”, indecency, violating common morality, or something else of the sort. In many cases no specific act even needs to be defined.

Japan in particular has some legal quirks that can seem strange to outsiders. A famous example is Japanese porn. It is not illegal to make or market pornography in Japan. But when a company like Caribbeancom sells adult videos without censoring vaginas and penises they can be persecuted for obscenity. Then there is prostitution. Soliciting, procuring and coercing are all illegal. Though “prostitution” is strictly defined as the exchange of money for vaginal intercourse. So delivery health and blowjob bars remain free to operate.

The war on group sex in Japan

Over the last few years Tokyo police have raided several “happening clubs”, “couple kissas” and private swinger parties. In 2022 a total of ten people were captured by police at Sleeping Beauty in Shibuya. A grand total of twelve police divisions were involved in the crackdown. Customers and a manager were cuffed for various offenses including public indecency.

Earlier in the year a man was arrested for hosting an orgy in a hotel room. In that case he was charged with fraud. Why? He booked a room for 2 people but used it to host nearly a dozen. No charges were filed for the actual sex.

japanese swinger club

Back in 2020 an Osaka man was arrested for holding orgy parties in his private home. He was charged with prostitution offenses. Prosecutors claimed he was more or less pimping by charging a membership fee to attendees. Though no one was actually paid for having sex.

More recently in 2023 the popular Waku Waku 9259 in Shinjuku was hit by the fuzz. This time they collared six people including the manager and staff. Again the charges were public indecency as law enforcement claimed 9259 provided a venue for public sex.

The legality of swinging in Japan

I have been reporting on the commercial sex industry worldwide for more than a decade. Over the years I have reported on several crack downs and raids. I even covered a concerted attack on Japanese strip clubs in 2013. The more things change the more they stay the same.

There doesn’t seem to be any particular law prohibiting swinging itself in Japan. There are laws against adultery that continue to be enforced. But swinging is a consensual act. So the government uses laws against having sex in public to shut down swinger clubs instead. It doesn’t matter that these are privately owned clubs that only admit members. Apparently the presence of several people makes it a “public event” in the eyes of the law.

In reality the forces that oppose sex would go to any length to attack those with the nerve to have unauthorized sexual interactions. The motives of the anti-sex contingent vary. Some are religious. Others simply authoritarian conservatives. What they all have in common is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be having fun.

I am not an attorney. I am certainly not an expert in Japanese law. Still I am a reporter with a knowledge of the sex scene in Japan and an ability to research what I don’t know. To answer the original question it appears that the act of swinging itself is totally legal in Japan. However those in power seem poised to continue their attacks on those who actually participate in swinger meetups or visit swinger clubs.

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