Wakaresaseya (literally “breaker-uppers”) are private companies who bring to an end relationships of all kinds. Employees of these companies pose as strangers who happen to meet the target, and then become involved in an affair.
As well as breaking up couples, entrapping someone into an affair can be useful to an employer who wants to secure the “resignation” of an employee or a businessman seeking “favorable terms.”
Five years ago there were about a dozen companies, but there are now many more on the internet. The industry relies upon the power of shame and is unregulated.
Wakaresaseya perform a variety of functions, but all of them arise from the Japanese dislike of direct confrontation. Rather than pleading with him face to face, a woman whose husband is having an affair may hire a splitter-upper to seduce his mistress away from him. Parents may engage their services to stave off an unsuitable lover of a son or daughter. Dozens of wakaresaseya companies advertise on the internet, under names such as Lady’s Secret Service and Office Shadow. They employ models, actors and personable people of different backgrounds first to trail and then to seduce their quarry.
Though most recently these businesses have been in the news not for their shameful acts, but for a fateful murder.
The story began when a Wakaresaseya “detective”, Kuwabara, approached a 32-year-old mother, Mrs Isohata, in a supermarket in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, in the guise of a chatty stranger, and asked her if she could recommend a place that sold good cheesecake.
Before long they were lovers. He used the false identity “Hajime” and made no mention of his own wife and children. By arrangement, a colleague photographed them covertly as they entered a “love hotel” where rooms are rented by the hour — and Mrs Isohata’s husband used this as evidence to divorce her in November 2007. By this time, however, she and Kuwabara were in love.
But when the truth came out in April 2009 the couple had a furious row and she announced that she was leaving him. It ended with her being strangled with a piece of household string. Kuwabara surrendered to the police that same night.
The story ended when prosecutors in Tokyo called yesterday for a 17-year sentence for Takeshi Kuwabara for murdering his lover, Rie Isohata, last year.
However the story doesn’t really end. There are survivors and others involved.
Mrs Isohata’s father said during the trial: “I can never forgive a business that toys with the emotions of human beings.”
“For the rest of my life, I will never forgive the defendant, or my daughter’s ex-husband who hired him, or the wakaresaseya business itself.
“This has devastated not just my daughter’s life, but those of my grandchildren and me.”
What do you think of companies that sale services like Wakaresaseya? Should they be able to profit from such acts?