This is sick, but very real.
Couple busters' thrive in Japan
Fri, 02 May 2003
After months of loneliness and emotional distress, 28-year-old Tomoko decided to get even with the man who dumped her.
She went to private detective Takashi Kobayashi to ask him to break up the relationship between her ex-boyfriend and his new, younger girlfriend.
Following her request, Kobayashi, also known as a "couple buster" started a breakup operation by setting a trap for the new girlfriend.
"We started gathering information about the girlfriend including her workplace, hobby and the friends she hung out with... And we learned that she went to a kickboxing gym sometimes after work and we decided to send a male operative to the gym," the 30-year-old bespectacled detective said.
The male operative in his 20s approached her there to start "communications" and one month later they started going out.
"She is cheating on her boyfriend. What we are planning for the next step is to create a situation where the boyfriend will bump into her and our operative. The breakup of his relationship is just a matter of time," the detective said.
The operation has so far cost Tomoko (not her real name) one million yen ($8 300).
On average, Kobayashi said breaking up a couple takes a few months and costs around two million yen, including contract fees, and transportation and accommodation expenses.
"With that price, you can buy a nice Japanese car," Kobayashi chuckled, adding that the contract does not guarantee a breakup.
"We had a case in which a single woman in her early 30s had asked us to break up the marriage of her lover and his wife. We sent several male operatives to the wife but nothing worked. Eventually, the client broke up with the man and gave up the operation," he said.
Kobayashi said 80 percent of his clients are women. He receives around 15 emails and 30 calls a day.
He decided to expand his regular private eye work into the couple-busting business after seeing a 2001 TV drama series on the profession.
However, veteran detective Kiyoshi Hiwatashi from Japan Private Service said he had launched his breakup business years before the TV-induced boom.
For Hiwatashi, the idea came from the casual remarks of wives who had asked him to investigate their husbands' extramarital affairs.
"As a detective, I investigated many cases involving (husbands') infidelity. But when I presented evidence to my clients, they told me they did not need it. I was confused," he said.
Instead, many wives asked Hiwatashi if he knew anyone who could go one step further and end the relationship between their husbands and mistresses.
"They told me they would have been really glad if I had done that. So I started to," he said.
The success ratio of Hiwatashi's breakup business ranks top in the industry at more than 90 percent. He fielded 1 816 breakup requests in 2002 from 630 in 1999.
But Hiwatashi stressed his firm does not take clients like Tomoko who want to destroy a relationship out of revenge.
"We only handle cases with legitimate reasons" such as marital infidelity and domestic violence, he said, adding the firm would normally charge a client 2.4 million yen for a three-month operation.
The firm employs more than 440 detectives and operatives who specialize in couple-busting work, including 25-year-old Mariko.
"A recent client of mine was a single woman who wanted to break up with her jealous boyfriend. She tried to end it many times but he didn't go," said Mariko (not her real name).
So Mariko approached the boyfriend and lured him into dates at fancy bars and restaurants.
"Creating the first encounter with a target is an easy part. You can do that by exchanging email addresses at a bar or giving him a letter asking to meet for a coffee," she said, brushing her shoulder-length silky black hair.
Another surefire tactic Mariko used was to "lose" her mobile phone deliberately and ask her target to ring it to help her find it. In that way, Mariko got his phone number, which was automatically recorded in her mobile phone, and made sure he got hers.
Mariko then contrived a situation where she and the client confronted the boyfriend together to accuse him of "infidelity."
"The act was all pre-meditated between me and my client. Only the boyfriend was totally out of the loop," she said. Mariko also repeatedly told him she would never sleep with him until he broke up with the girlfriend.
When the man finally left the client for Mariko, she also stopped seeing him because her job was over.
"I disappeared as far as he was concerned. There was no way for him to track me down because everything he knew about me was a complete fiction," she said, adding she threw away the mobile phone she used on that job.
Mariko said her work had taught her that men are fragile creatures in constant need of women's caring and warmth.
"Men are lonely and always seeking their ideal women who are deeply caring and loving. When I act the ideal woman at work, most men are falling for me and telling me that I am their angel and goddess," the agent said.
And Kobayashi said his work had shown him an unpleasant side of the female psyche.
"The depth of female jealousy is so deep that it sometimes makes me depressed. Women are like snakes because of their manic attachment to their men," he said.