The job market extends a little wider in Japan, with roles carved out for professional cuddles, mourners, and apologisers, all of whom go about their work alongside those with more traditional roles, like accountants, chefs and retail workers.
Now, we’re discovering there’s a role for professional relationship-ruiners, whose sole task is to break up marriages, and often by luring one party into an extramarital affair while simultaneously gathering evidence.
People who carry out these roles are called ‘wakaresaseya’ agents. These professional ‘splitter-uppers’ often make up a speciality branch of private detective firms, and they come in particular use for dissolving relationships in a culture that typically avoids confrontation and conflict.
In some cases, parents will hire a wakaresaseya agent to lure away their son or daughter’s lover if they don’t approve of them. In other cases, an agent may be hired to seduce the mistress of a husband who’s having an affair, with an end goal to encourage the husband back to his wife.
But perhaps the most common wakaresaseya agent’s case may appear something like this. One member of a relationship decides he wants a divorce. He approaches a wakaresaseya agent to lure his spouse and provides background information on her interests and personality.
The wakaresaseya agent will then approach the spouse organically and strike up a flirtation with the intention to start an affair. He may gather evidence (since evidence is required when a divorce in Japan is contested or one party doesn’t want to split) and make the idea of leaving her husband sound more appealing.
“Your wife is much more likely to agree to a divorce if she’s in love with someone and wants to move on,” London author Stephanie Scott tells BBC. Scott is something of an expert in the field after undergoing years of research for her novel What’s Left of Me Is Yours, which was loosely based on a 2009 wakaresaseya incident that ended in murder.
Following said murder, the wakaresaseya industry took a bit of a hit. But a recent survey finds around 270 wakaresaseya agencies currently advertising online, many of which will have disguised names like ‘Lady’s Secret Service’ and ‘Office Shadow’, according to The Australian.
To become a wakaresaseya agent, those interested must be deemed attractive and be comfortable with charging a lot for their services. According to an article from the BBC, the hiring of an agent can cost between 400,000 yen (AU $5,250) and 20 million yen (AU $263,000) for more high-profile cases, for example, if the subject of the ruse is a celebrity or public figure.