In the predawn hours of Oct. Kazuhiro Ogawa, a year-old unemployed man who had been in the parlor, was arrested on suspicion of arson and murder. Critics have long warned that so-called private video parlors are not only social hazards that encourage antisocial behavior but are also, like Net cafes and karaoke rooms, dangerous fire hazards that blatantly violate safety regulations.
Unlike normal video rental shops, where patrons take their videos home to view, private video parlors include small, usually one-person cubicles for viewing in individual privacy on the premises.
Cubicle charges are usually based on minute, minute or one-hour increments. Adult videos constitute up to 90 percent of the selection at most private video parlors. Most customers are men.
A typical private booth will have a large, comfortable chair that, in some cases, can be extended into a bed. There are also tissues and wet towels. The more upscale private parlors are similar in design to the more upscale Net cafes and karaoke rooms, and offer similar services, including refreshment areas with free soft drinks, coffee and tea, and light snacks. A visitor can usually bring food and drinks into a private booth.
Some places do. The advantage to the women, Kadokura said, is that they keep half or more of their pay, and the quick turnover of customers ensures high profits for both the women and the establishments.
In addition, police warn that men who use private video booths run the risk of being secretly filmed, as some establishments have been caught selling videos of customers to magazines and video production companies that target the gay community.
Many such establishments do have squatters. Between 11 p. In addition, police report that the recent media attention on the problem of Net cafe refugees has led a growing number of establishments to kick them out or refuse them entry, leaving many with little choice but to head to private video booths. Since the Oct. The government ordered establishments found in violation of safety codes to be shut down until they comply.
Osaka city fire officials found that among all these types of establishments, 90 percent were in violation of fire and safety codes. Most establishments did not conduct fire drills, did not post safety or evacuation information, or did not have fire extinguishers or sprinkler systems.
Other establishments were discovered to have had blocked windows and exits. Of course, if the private video salon allows smoking, there is the added danger of a fire starting after somebody falls asleep in a private booth with a burning cigarette.
Even though video parlors often serve as de facto hotel rooms for many some establishments even offer showers , they are not, legally, hotels.
Many parlors are located inside buildings with other businesses, and under current law police and fire officials cannot enter them as easily as they can hotels to check for safety violations. But the Osaka fire has led to nationwide calls to strengthen the laws governing the safety of such establishments.
It was reported after the Osaka fire that the manager of the building, which had other businesses, turned off the alarm when it started ringing out of the belief it was a false alarm. In an effort to discourage people from hiring a prostitute and then using not only video parlors but also Net cafes and karaoke rooms for sexual liaisons, Osaka police have submitted a bill to the prefectural assembly that would ban the operation of establishments that introduce customers to women and establishments providing sexual services.