Enjo-kōsai (援助交際?) (shortened form enkō (援交?)) means "compensated dating" and is a practice which originated in Japan where older men give money and/or luxury gifts to attractive women for their companionship, and possibly sexual favors. The female participants range from primarily school-age girls to housewives. A common misconception is that enjo-kōsai always involves some form of sexual activity. The term enjo-kōsai first appeared in the Asahi Shimbun on September 20, 1994. In the opposite case of women paying men, it is called gyaku-enjo-kōsai (逆援助交際?), or "reverse compensated dating."
What constitutes enjo-kōsai is heavily contested within Japan. The most common connotation is that it is a form of child prostitution whereby participating girls sell their bodies in exchange for designer goods or money. However, to label enjo-kōsai by the most basic definition of prostitution whereby someone, primarily younger girls around ages 12-16, attains money through the exchange of sexual acts, excludes an array of other activities.
Many groups, including women's centers and associations within Japan include “the exchange of a girl's company or time” as part of this equation and insist that these other activities define enjo-kōsai. Anthropologist Laura Miller argues in her research that the majority of enjo-kōsai dates consists of groups of girls going with a group of older men to a karaoke bar for several hours and being paid for their time.
Furthermore, in a 1998 survey by the Asian Women's Fund, researchers found that more than 20 percent of all high school girls engage in enjo-kōsai and over 90 percent of the girls interviewed attested to feeling uncomfortable with the exchange or purchase of sexual services for money. Statistics show that the majority of girls are not delving into the realm of sexual exchange.