A Diet member’s wife discovers her husband is conducting an illicit affair. It’s not so much that she objects—politicians’ dalliances with geisha or bar floozies are a dime a dozen—but the timing is inauspicious. An election is scheduled just weeks away, and the polls indicate the contest may be a close one.
Revelations of his extramarital dalliances in the tabloid media might cost him his seat.
What to do? Perhaps the wife will seek out the services of specialized profession referred to as “Wakaresase-ya.” These detective agency staff can be mobilized, working alone or in teams, to destroy a relationship.
Their activities were first widely reported about a decade ago, and they even inspired a 2001 TV drama series on the NTV network titled “Wakaresase-ya.”
Such agencies are very much still practicing their trade.
But in the first known case of its kind, one such mission, reports Shukan Shincho (Dec 31-Jan 7), ended in a fatality. On Dec 15, Takashi Kuwabara, a 31-year-old former investigator at a detective agency, went on trial in the Tokyo District Court on charges of homicide.
A reporter at a national daily tells the magazine that in 2007, Kuwabara seduced a woman at the behest of her husband, who wanted to catch her in the act and initiate divorce in a manner that would convince the family court to give him custody of their children.
“The sting was set up so that Kuwabara would seduce the woman and guide her to a hotel, where his partner was lurking with a hidden camera,” the reporter tells the magazine.
The ruse was successful; confronted with the photographic evidence, the woman had no case. But Kuwabara continued to see her. He had initially told the woman that he worked in the IT sector. When she eventually found out his real job, a violent confrontation ensued, during which Kuwabara allegedly strangled the woman to death.
The woman’s ex-husband, who had no involvement in her subsequent murder, was nevertheless implicated to the degree that he had initially retained Kuwabara’s services.
The Chiyoda Ward-based Japan Investigation Industries Association, with some 380 members, went on record as saying it opposes such services.
“We believe the practice of ‘wakaresase-ya’ goes against public order and morals and have advised member companies to voluntarily refrain from undertaking such jobs,” says a spokesperson for the association. “There have been cases where crooked operators charged as much as 8 million yen for a job.
“I suppose companies may still be taking on numerous cases without recording them as such. It’s difficult to get a picture of how much of this goes on.”
In addition to the relatively low rate of success, many clients find that the jobs entrusted to these pros create a whole new set of troubles. But that seems no hindrance to those determined to use them.
“With the recent boom in divorce among middle-aged and elderly people, the wakaresase-ya business has nowhere to go but up,” an inside source informs Shukan Shincho.
One can’t be too careful these days, the magazine warns.