Having trouble giving your husband or wife the old heave-ho? If you lived in Japan, you could pay someone to make it happen—and leave you looking like the good guy.
In a country where confrontation is rigorously avoided, and no-fault divorce hasn’t caught on, an unusual industry is flourishing: wakaresaseya, or professional “splitter-uppers,” will, for a fee, intervene in an undesired relationship. A typical case: a woman wanting out of a stale marriage brings in an attractive splitter-upper who concocts a meeting and draws the man into a compromising situation. Pictures are covertly taken, and suddenly there are acceptable grounds for divorce. Other uses of the service include luring away a husband’s mistress, or ending a friendship. Even corporations are finding a benefit, using wakaresaseya to generate a scandal that encourages the quiet resignation of a long-time employee.
For now, it all remains legal. That may change in light of the case of Takashi Kuwabara, who, in 2007, was hired by the husband of Rie Isohata to tempt her so he could divorce her and win custody of their son. But Kuwabara fell in love with Rie. When the truth came out last year, an argument ended in Kuwabara strangling her to death. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in March.