‘Grossly inappropriate’: Japan city rapped for buying US$2,800 sex doll to promote tourism

Auditors have rapped the Tokushima Prefectural Government for purchasing an “extremely expensive” sex doll to promote the city’s tourism.

The government’s tourism policy division said it paid 424,440 Japanese yen, or US$2,880, for the doll, which was used in a tourist exhibition at the Tokushima Awaodori Airport in 2017, per a Mainichi Shimbun report on Monday.

The exhibition was meant to promote the prefecture’s traditional indigo-dyeing art, so the doll was clad in an indigo-dyed summer kimono, per the Mainichi.

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Mannequins displayed in the lobby of the Tokushima Airport in June 2017. Photo: Tokushima Prefectural Government/Handout

Officials initially used a pair of cheaper mannequins – not the sex doll – at the exhibition in June 2017. Rental for both mannequins cost around US$180, according to the Mainichi Shimbun’s report.

But in July, an unnamed male official decided to replace the mannequins with the sex doll. He then went about procuring the sex doll, which he’d concluded would be a crowd-pleaser, according to an audit report of the case obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun.

The auditors dismissed the prefecture’s claims that the sex doll was more effective at drawing tourists than the mannequins. The “extremely expensive” doll, auditors said in their report, was “grossly inappropriate in terms of social norms.”

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The auditors have asked the prefecture to seek compensation from the officials involved in the purchase by June 19.

“While this is a case from before my tenure as governor, as the figure in charge of appointments, I will take the audit results seriously and handle them in a strict manner,” the prefecture’s governor, Masazumi Gotoda, said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time Japanese officials have courted controversy with odd buys using government money.

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Mannequins are displayed at the Tokushima Airport. Photo: Tokushima Prefectural Government/Handout

In May 2021, officials in the seaside town of Noto were slammed for spending nearly US$170,000 on a giant squid statue. Officials financed the statue using part of the US$5.4 million in grants it received for Covid-19 relief.

“Since the national government said funds could be used to enhance the region’s appeal, we thought it would be good to make something with impact,” an unnamed official told Yahoo Japan.

“It will promote our town and have some economic benefit, as we have seen a huge dip in the number of tourists.”

This article was first published by Business Insider

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