Wakaresaseya: Japanese business specialising in breaking up marriage!
To many it will sound like the work of fiction – the sort of thing you could expect to read in the latest summer trash novel you’ve picked up for your beach holiday. Wakaresaseya, roughly translated into English as “breaker-uppers”, are Japanese businesses whose speciality lies in the breaking of up marriage for wealthy clients.
Japanese divorce law is different to that in the UK, and as a result if a partner contests a divorce in Japan, the party who wants the divorce needs to prove that there is a reason why the divorce should be allowed. Examples of what would need to be proven are that the party seeking the divorce has been the victim of domestic violence, that their spouse has not been paying towards their standard living expenses or, that their spouse has committed adultery.
The work of a wakaresaseya agent is not just limited to husbands looking to encourage their spouses into having affairs, but has also been reported to include work such as one spouse hiring an agent to break up the affair that their spouse is having with someone else, or gathering evidence against a spouse who is already having an affair for use in divorce proceedings.
For many wealthy men in Japan who want to seek a divorce, but who know their partners will never consent to one, wakaresaseya become their last resort. If they can obtain evidence that their spouse has committed adultery, or if they can have their spouse fall in love with someone else, the road to divorce opens up for them.
As can be expected, all this work does not come cheap. It’s said that while a very straightforward case could cost around 400,000 yen (about £3,000), for complicated cases involving celebrities or politicians fees could reach as high as 20 million yen (around £145,000).
How Does it Work?
It starts out with the customer, traditionally a wealthy married man, providing details of ‘the target’, traditionally his wife, to the business. The standard goal of the husband is to have a wakaresaseya agent to initiate an affair with his spouse and thereafter provide incriminating evidence of this in the form of pictures, videos etc.
As can be expected, the wakaresaseya agents tend to be attractive charming individuals who find ways to seemingly fall into the lives of the target. The agent will follow the target and their movements, find out their interests and work angles to push themselves into their lives in seemingly innocuous ways.
In a recent BBC article by Christine Ro a typical approach was set out as follows:
Let’s say Aya believes her husband, Bungo, is having an affair. She approaches a wakaresaseya agent, Chikahide.
Chikahide starts with research: looking through whatever materials Aya may have given him, shadowing Bungo’s movements, looking through his online profiles and messages, and getting a sense of his friends and routines. He takes photos and determines that cheating is definitely occurring. Bungo is an avid gym-goer from Kagoshima, so Chikahide sends a fellow male agent who has a Kagoshima accent, Daisuke, to make contact.
Daisuke starts showing up at the gym that Bungo frequents, casually making conversation and striking up a friendship. He knows a great deal about Bungo thanks to Chikahide’s research, so it’s easy for Daisuke to bring up topics that will interest Bungo, and make it appear that the two men have a great deal in common. Eventually, he’s able to find out more about Bungo’s girlfriend, Emi.
Daisuke now brings in a female agent, Fumika. Like Daisuke and his gym-buddy Bungo, Fumika cultivates a friendship with Emi and learns a great deal about her, including her relationship preferences and her ideal man. Fumika eventually arranges a group dinner with her target, Emi, and several other agents. One of these is another male agent, Goro.
Goro has been readied with all the information about Emi’s likes and dislikes, and shaped into Emi’s seeming soulmate. Goro seduces Emi (though real-life agent Mochizuki is careful to note that agents don’t sleep with targets, to avoid breaking the law on prostitution). Now in love with another man, Emi breaks up with Bungo. The case is marked as a success (although a client may return if this affair restarts or another one begins). Goro fades away over time, never revealing that he was an agent.
The Dark Side of Wakaresaseya
The work of a wakaresaseya is understandably a dangerous one which falls closely into the area of entrapment and deceit. One particular case which grabbed the world’s attention was the 2010 murder case against Takeshi Kuwabara.
Kuwabara was a wakaresaseya agent, hired to entrap Rie Isohata, the wife of his wealthy client. Kuwabara staged a meeting with Isohata in a supermarket and the pair eventually began having an affair which turned into a genuine relationship. When photographs of the pair were used by Isohata’s husband in their divorce proceedings, she broke off her relationship with Kuwabara after learning she had been deceived by him. As a result of her attempting to leave him, Kuwabara strangled her to death and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The case led to some minor reforms to the wakaresaseya industry in Japan, including the need for agencies carrying out such work to obtain licences and a restriction on the advertising of such services. Nevertheless, ten years later the work of wakaresaseya agents in Japan continues.
Could we Ever Expect Wakaresaseya Style Agents in the UK?
Divorce laws in England and Wales are very different to those in Japan, and perhaps that is a reason why wakaresaseya styled agents are unlikely to be used by individuals here. With the ‘no fault’ divorce reforms coming into place next year where there will no longer be the option of contesting a divorce once one is sought, this is likely to further lessen any need for the use of such honey trapping agents.
Edmund Magdziarek of EJM Investigations, a UK based private investigator with nearly 20 years’ experience in the industry, states “as a professional investigator I believe my role is to assist in gathering evidence, not creating the evidence. I am aware that honey trapping is a service offered online in the UK, but it is not something I have ever been involved in due to the questionable ethics of it. If a client has reason to believe their partner is being unfaithful then I can, and have assisted in proving that. Wakaresaseya agents take honey trapping to the extreme, and I hope that such services do not become common place in the UK. Certainly within the scope of UK law it is an unnecessary service that infringes on someone’s privacy, and could cause emotional damage. A relationship breakdown can hard on all parties emotionally and financially so I hope the new “no-fault” divorce goes some way to alleviating the stress of a marriage ending”.