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When the United States passed its COVID-19 economic stimulus package late last month, adult industry workers were dismayed to find that small adult businesses were banned from applying for disaster loans. The outcry—that businesses that profit from performances or sales of “a prurient sexual nature” are still legal businesses with expenses just like any other—has so far fallen on deaf ears here in the States. But in Japan, things have gone differently.

In early April, the Japanese government announced its own economic relief package. Workers who are unable to work because they must care for children during national school closures would provide about $38 a day under the package—but not sex industry subcontractors, including bar hostesses and sex workers.

A health ministry official told the Japan Times, “In the past, it became a problem when subsidies were given to shops with ties to crime syndicates and those operating illegally.”

But Yukiko Kaname, the leader of Sex Work and Sexual Health (SWASH), said, “Illegal shops and ties with crime syndicates are problems regarding the operators. The workers are not at fault and their children also do not bear any responsibility.” SWASH submitted a letter to the government asking it not to discriminate by occupation and to protect the lives of all families.