Ironically, the entire district is now a giant commercial complex that houses a department store run by Seiyu Ltd.
and a shopping center operated by Parco Co, both Japanese companies.
“Singapore's legalisation of the sex trade makes it a "pragmatic" and "unusual" exception in a region where prostitution thrives but is officially banned, said Reuben Wong, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore.
"We recognise that it is not possible to eradicate it and forcing it underground will lead to the greater likelihood of involvement by triads and organised crime, the trafficking of women, and public health risks," Ho Peng Kee, then a top official of the interior ministry, told parliament in 2009.
[Source: Philip Lim, Agence France Presse, April 28, 2012 ^=^] The Singaporean government takes pragmatic approach to prostitution.
Instead of closing down the sex industry it aims to tightly regulate the trade to protect minors and ward off criminal involvement.
[Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, May 30, 2004 *~*] “A Western journalist says there are about 400 brothels in the city, each with about 10 to 20 prostitutes, or a total of 6000.
Traces of Karayuki-san are more evident at Japanese Cemetery Park, where countless -- and largely nameless -- Karayuki-san are buried along with other Japanese.
Combined with the far larger Chinese-dominated red-light district and other similar districts catering to different ethnic groups, Singapore was known as one of the centers of the sex industry in Asia in those days.
“As Singapore started to develop around the 1870s, immigrants -- mostly men -- rushed in from China and India to toil at rubber plantations and tin mines or as rickshaw pullers.
Wong told AFP: "Prostitution was legalised to bring this sector under close government control -- for economic, moral, tax reasons....
The main overarching theme is we keep it under government control." ^=^ In the late 19th century and early 20th century, many Japanese women came to Singapore to work as prostitutes known as "Karayuki-san." Takehiko Kajita of Kyodo wrote: “ Karayuki-san were Japanese peasant girls -- mostly from the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture and Amakusa Islands in Kumamoto Prefecture -- who were sold into the flesh trade in colonial Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia.