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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trio arrested for trafficking women to Japan for sex work

A Japanese national and two Cambodians were arrested for allegedly trafficking 10 Cambodian women to Japan late last week in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
A Japanese national and two Cambodians were arrested for allegedly trafficking 10 Cambodian women to Japan late last week in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Trio arrested for trafficking women to Japan for sex work

A Japanese restaurateur has been identified as the alleged ringleader of a sex slavery operation that has sent at least 10 Cambodian women to Japan, anti-trafficking police said yesterday.

Fukui Susumu, 52; his Cambodian wife, Lim Leakena, 28; and Cambodian national Seng Chandy, 34, were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday in connection with a case involving seven Cambodian women, according to General Pol Pithey, director of the capital’s anti-human trafficking police.

All three were arrested on the weekend, he said, adding that Daun Penh restaurant owner Susumu was the mastermind of the operation.

“He opened a restaurant in Cambodia, and then he brought one Cambodian worker to visit Japan to gain their trust. And then he brought more people,” Pithey said, explaining that the first waitress sent to Japan was treated well in order to trick the others into joining her.

The police statement alleges that Susumu and Leakena told their employees they could make $3,000 to $5,000 a month waitressing in Japan, while Chandy forged documents for them. When they arrived in Japan, men at the new restaurant confiscated their documents and forced them to have sex with clients. One of the seven women was able to contact the Cambodian Embassy on December 7, leading to their rescue and launching a subsequent investigation.

On January 20, a local Japanese media outlet reported that Japanese citizens Hisao Watanabe, 44, and Tomoyuki Goto, 32, had been arrested at the restaurant in Gunma prefecture. The local media source, Sankei, also reported that seven victims involved in the case have since been returned to Cambodia, a statement Pithey confirmed.

Pithey explained that during the course of the investigation, they discovered three other Cambodian women had been trafficked by the same man, but had already returned to Cambodia without police assistance and did not wish to take part in the case. “We have spent nearly a month investigating. [All] 10 victims have already returned to Cambodia safely,” he said.

He said that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted the victims in transitioning back into Cambodia, and continues to offer them support, although all of them are currently living in their own homes.

Pithey predicted that Susumu will face more stringent legal consequences due to his role as the group’s alleged leader. “The two people who are Cambodian just helped with processing. They may face lesser charges, but the Japanese man is fully criminally responsible for sex trafficking,” he said.

Court spokesman Ly Sophana said that prosecutor Oum Sopheakdey is currently working on the case against the three suspects.A representative from the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia declined the comment as the situation is still under investigation.

Officials at IOM also declined to comment.

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