Friday, May 14, 2010

Breaker-uppers

It began with an invitation from a young female friend, Kaori, whom she’d met by chance a few weeks earlier. A group of friends were going out for the evening and, unexpectedly, Rika — 40, and unhappily married — was invited to join them. ...

They met in one of Tokyo’s smartest restaurants; the beer and saké flowed. Kaori’s friends were flatteringly interested in her, none more so than a man of her own age named Osamu Ota, a successful businessman with a droll and confident charm. ...

The photographs taken the morning after tell the story of what happened next: the discarded clothes and screwed up tissues and Rika, looking bashful but happy, sitting among the churned up sheets of the hotel bed. ...

But Rika was the victim, not of a straightforward womaniser, but something more chilling: a meticulously planned professional sting operation.

Everyone involved in that wild evening — from the young “friend” who invited her, to the guests in the restaurant — was an actor, an employee of an agency that specialises in sexual entrapment. The chance meeting with “Kaori” weeks before, the dinner invitation and the act of seduction were commissioned and paid for by someone Rika has never met — the lover of her husband, a woman who yearns for the failure of Rika’s marriage.

The whole thing was masterminded by Mr “Ota” — real name Osamu Tomiya — a member of a peculiarly Japanese profession, part-private investigator, part-prostitute, known as wakaresase-ya — the “splitter-uppers”. ...

The simplest job, such as seeing off a stalker, might be wrapped up for £3,500. But a set-up such as the one used to trap Rika will cost at least double that — plus a bonus of about the same amount for Mr Tomiya’s personal participation.

“We produce a drama at the request of our clients,” he says. “We write the script and put on the play. For a member of my staff, it could take a year to make someone fall in love. If it’s me, I can do it in a day. In this industry, I’m a god.”
--Richard Lloyd Parry, Times of London, on things that happen only in Japan

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