Monday, August 13, 2018

Friends, spouses, parents on hire

Photo courtesy: The New Yorker
Yes, one can get a husband, wife, father, mother, boyfriend or girlfriend on hire .... in Japan.

I didn't know this, until I heard a documentary in the Outlook Weekend programme on BBC World Service. This family rental business is thriving in Japan, where this extraordinary practice of getting a fake relative began in 1990s.

The programme features Yuichi Ishii who runs a company called Family Romance. Over the past nine years, he has been a husband to a hundred women and organised 8,000 fake weddings.

This is a perfectly legal commercial arrangement, and the actors ensure that everything goes off perfectly, with no chance of the impersonation ever being exposed.

At the end of the programme, there is an interview with a mother who hired a father for her little daughter, who was missing her real father since he had been divorced by the mother.

Though this is common in Japan, it's not an easy business: one, the moral issues arising out of living a real life based on a lie, and two, the emotional complications ensuing from the real-fake relationships.

This 30-odd minute programme on BBC World Service is very well made, and is worth listening to.

Later, I did a web search on this amazing phenomenon, and found that there have been articles on this in many publications like The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Sydney Morning HeraldThere is also a Wikipedia page on Rental family service.

10 comments:

  1. Strange. I thought this was the sort of thing that only occurred in really bad made-for-TV movies.

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    1. Hi Liz, Even I thought fake friends and parents are only in movies.

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  2. Having a fake boy friend or girl friend is very common in China to "calm down" the pestering parents to get the son/daughter to get married. This happens in USA also to bring a "significant other" for the company party or high level executive meetings.

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    1. Hi Rajan, I am not surprised that the trend of having fake relationships is catching on!

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  3. Life has really changed over the years. Relationships are not made in heaven... apparently !!!

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    1. Hi Radha Yes, fully agree. Interpersonal interactions have come down significantly.

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  4. Strange are the ways of the world and they soon become common.

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    1. Indeed, KP. Apparently these relationships on hire are slowly spreading to other nations.

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  5. This will become only more prevalent in the future where people would want everything to be flexible.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. I guess so, Rajesh, especially since people's ability to adjust and move on is shrinking by the day.

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