Photo/IllutrationCustomers and barkers roam the streets of Kinshicho in eastern Tokyo on a recent evening. (Yuko Kawasaki)

Bangladeshis are muscling in on the action in the Kinshicho entertainment district, an area in eastern Tokyo where Russians have long dominated the foreign presence.

The number of bars and clubs owned by Bangladeshis has visibly increased in Kinshicho, as has the number of complaints about business operators from the South Asia nation.

On May 21, police were informed about two men who were persistently pestering pedestrians around JR Kinshicho Station to stop in for drinks at an establishment known as Club Pegasus.

On July 19, two Bangladeshi men were arrested on suspicion of violating a Tokyo metropolitan government ordinance by being overly aggressive in luring customers to their establishment.

Other complaints have concerned overbilling at bars featuring hostesses from abroad.

On July 1, a 41-year-old Bangladeshi manager of a bar was arrested on suspicion of fraud by charging a customer twice and collecting about 320,000 yen ($2,970).

The customer initially presented a credit card, but the manager lied and said the card could not be used, police said.

A similar case led to the December 2018 arrest of a 48-year-old former Bangladeshi man who had obtained Japanese citizenship.

Police said they received 99 complaints about double billing in the district in 2018, with total financial damage reaching about 38 million yen.

In the first six months of this year, there have been 63 such cases with total losses of about 22 million yen. Police said most of the victims were so drunk that they had little idea of what was going on.

But not all bars in Kinshicho use illegal practices.

One man standing outside an establishment used fluent Japanese to explain that he, like many other barkers for bars in the area, came from Bangladesh.

He escorted two people to a club that employed 15 or so hostesses from four different nations, including the Philippines.

The total bill after one hour was 16,000 yen, an amount presented by the barker before the two customers entered the bar.

Each customer was billed 4,000 yen for the hour, while beverages ordered by the hostess came out to 2,000 yen a drink.

When the customers were leaving the bar, others still inside were so drunk that they required help standing up.

According to the Sumida Ward office, 123 Bangladeshis were registered as residents as of the end of March 2018, more than double the number of 20 years ago and greatly exceeding the 79 Russians registered in the ward.

According to a source knowledgeable about the goings-on in Kinshicho, the sharp increase in Bangladeshis stems from the opening of clubs staffed by foreign hostesses from about 20 years ago.

Bar owners would ask their friends in Bangladesh to help out as barkers in Tokyo, and many did because they could earn more than they would in their home country.

When those barkers set out to open their own establishments, they would summon their own friends in Bangladesh, the source said.

A Japanese man in his 70s who belongs to the local merchants’ association said he has noticed an increase in Bangladeshi operators in recent years.

Although he is aware of the various problems that have surfaced recently, the man said, “What I really want to see is us working together with them to generate greater enthusiasm in this district.”

(This article was written by Hidemasa Yoshizawa and Chihaya Inagaki.)