Sex workers across Japan have been hit hard by closures and restrictions due to the pandemic. The entire country is under a state of emergency, with many businesses ordered to shutter and people advised not to go out., CNN reports.
There are now at least 10,797 cases nationwide and 236 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
To soften the economic blow, the central government has launched a massive stimulus package worth 108 trillion Japanese yen (about $989 billion)
Sex workers are eligible to apply for aid, under certain conditions — a move some activists have hailed as a sign of progress for an industry that has long suffered social stigma.
But for many sex workers, the package offers little reassurance — and its rules for eligibility seem opaque and restrictive. Some aren’t sure how to apply for benefits without effectively outing themselves.
“The government haven’t clearly said they will help everybody,” Mika said. “There are many people unable to eat and survive without working.”