The party is over for 'Super Free' sex
By Philip Brasor
June 29, 2003
hormone-fueled stupidity that characterizes the
behavior of your average college student is a
fact of life, and people who are bothered by the
unsafe sex, nonstop boozing and mindless pranks
that typify spring break in the United States
usually advocate moderation rather than outright
prohibition. They know there's little they can
do, especially when you've got MTV glorifying
this kind of knuckleheaded behavior every April.
In Japan, college students are no less
hedonistic, and if there's a difference it's
mainly in the way the public looks upon their
misbehavior. Americans generally accept it as a
rite of passage, while the Japanese see one's
student years as a four-year break in an
otherwise drudgery-filled life.
Traditionally, young Japanese worked
very hard, starting in early childhood, in order
to gain entrance to a good university. The
reward was membership of the college-going elite
and the perks included a winking acknowledgment
that, unless you were a technology major or on
track for an academic career, you didn't have to
sweat the studying part, because the
bureaucracies and name companies that eventually
hired you didn't care what you studied since
they were going to retrain you anyway. They only
cared about the pedigree, and for that reason it
was beholden to the universities themselves not
to make too much of scholastic achievement,
since dropouts and poor performance would
somehow reflect badly on their image.
College is a four-year vacation, which
means there are elements who will try to make
money out of it. One such person is Shinichiro
Wada, the head of a now-defunct Waseda "circle"
(extra-curricular club) called Super Free, who,
along with four other male college students, was
arrested two weeks ago for gang-raping a
20-year-old female college student following one
of Super Free's parties in May.
are normally athletic, artistic or academic, but
Super Free was a social club, and, from all
reports, a money-making one. Wada's purpose,
according to a report on Nippon TV's evening
news show, was to provide college students with
a social outlet so that their "campus life"
could be more enjoyable. Some of Wada's
colleagues said he was making 10 million yen a
year with the circle, which is operated along
the lines of a pyramid scheme, with employees
selling tickets to the circle's functions.
The reason for Super Free's success was
that it was registered with Waseda, one of the
most elite private universities in Japan.
Students from other Tokyo schools bought tickets
to Wada's parties to bathe in the Waseda aura.
Women were attracted because they wanted to meet
Waseda men, and men -- whether Waseda students
or not -- joined because they knew lots of women
would be there to meet Waseda men.
Free depended on its Waseda connection to make
money. Wada, who is 28, transferred to the
school after attending Chuo University for one
year. He spent seven years in Waseda's
prestigious politics and economics department
before being expelled for failure to pay his
tuition, and then entered Waseda's lower track
"second division" school, where he's now been
for two years.
According to Nippon TV,
the rape was not an isolated occurrence. Many
male students who joined the circle did so with
the expectation of sex, which, if it happens,
follows the inevitable nijikai (second party)
that follows the main party and which is held at
a smaller restaurant and involves heavy
drinking. Wada reportedly encouraged this
expectation and has allegedly committed other
assaults in the past.
of the arrest came right on the heels of another
scandal involving the elite school. Several days
before, a team of young extortionists was
arrested and one of them happened to be a Waseda
In fact, the reason the
extortion group made it into the news was
because of that student's involvement. The kind
of extortion they practiced involves teenage
girls who sleep with older men they meet through
"telephone clubs." The men are then blackmailed
by young men who force them to make accounts at
consumer-loan companies that the group then taps
into whenever it needs spending money.
According to Aera, this sort of
extortion has been on the rise for more than a
year, but received little media coverage until
this particular group was caught and found to
include an "elite."
The accused "Super
Free" rapists have said that the sex was
consensual, a claim that most people will find
less than believable in a case involving five
men and one woman, but the "elite" factor has
made it more of a bombshell than the usual rape
incidents, which are rarely covered in the media
unless they involve celebrities or U.S.
servicemen. Some TV stations have broadcast head
shots of the five alleged rapists, which is very
strange since the media usually don't even
reveal names. Documentary filmmaker Tatsuya
Mori, in his Asahi Shimbun column, speculated
that the press is being especially harsh on the
five because they are connected to Waseda, even
if only three of them are actually enrolled at
the prestigious university (one is from Nihon
University and the other from Gakushuin).
Is the media punishing those students
because they want to give Waseda its comeuppance
or because they think that, since Waseda
students are on a higher plane than the rest of
us, they have to be pulled down a little? Mori
doesn't say, but there's another possibility.
Media people are usually graduates of elite
universities themselves. They could simply be
punishing members of their brotherhood who were
stupid enough to get caught.
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