Tippling, titillation prove costly for Americans in Tokyo clubs
U.S. embassy warns of men being drugged in bars and waking up in alleys with credit cards missing
TOKYO–In the heart of this populous and famously safe city, there's a once-raunchy, now-sleek neighbourhood where American men have drunk and debauched since the end of World War II.
It is called Roppongi. After the war, U.S. servicemen funded a boom in its brothels and hostess bars. They still patronize its strip clubs and restaurants. Until the recent collapse of U.S. investment firms, a far richer American breed – bond traders and investment bankers – had poured out of nearby offices to join the boozy, pleasure-seeking throng.
This spring, the risks of tippling and titillation in Roppongi have risen sharply, according to the embassy, which houses its staff in the neighbourhood. American men are being surreptitiously drugged as they drink, especially when they drink by themselves in strip clubs, embassy officials said. While they are unconscious, the perpetrators – including scantily clad women with whom they might be socializing – take their credit cards and run up large bills.
In some cases, the American fun-seeker awakens in an alley with a nasty headache and with no idea of what happened during the evening – until he receives his credit-card statement. In none of the reported cases, embassy officials said, has anyone been beaten up.
In a security notice that generated headlines across Asia, the embassy said last month that reports of drink-spiking in Roppongi have increased significantly. It provided no numbers but advised the estimated 40,000 Americans living in Tokyo to steer clear of the neighbourhood's bars and clubs.
Two drugs have been used in the incidents, according to the embassy. They are rohypnol, known as "roofie," and gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, sometimes known as "grievous bodily harm." Both drugs can cause deep sedation and partial amnesia and have often been linked to charges of date rape.
Besides new complaints filtering into the police station, the U.S. embassy's security warning has generated a considerable amount of online mockery among English speakers in Tokyo. Americans can't hold their liquor, wags say.
Blogging on the website of The Times of London, correspondent Leo Lewis suggested the American warning came about because a "mid-level pen-pusher" at the embassy got drunk in a Roppongi strip club, ran up an embarrassing tab for lap dances and, when his wife got mad about the credit-card charges, pressured embassy officials to draft the security notice.
Apr 10, 2009 04:30 AM