On March 9, the Tokyo District Court found Takeshi Kuwabara, age 31, guilty of strangling to death Rie Isohata (then age 32) in April of last year.
According to Shukan Jitsuwa (Apr. 1), Kuwabara had met Isohata while employed as a wakararesase-ya (professional relationship destroyer) by a company based in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward. His client, the woman’s estranged husband, had retained the company to break up her cohabitation with a Tochigi man begun two years earlier.
Tailing Isohata into a supermarket, Kuwabara feigned a chance encounter, flashing a brilliant smile followed by this pick-up line: “Excuse me, but might you be able to direct me to a shop around here that sells tasty cheesecake?”
He then introduced himself as a businessman working in the IT sector, and the two hit it off.
Isohata’s husband, as originally planned, was able to utilize photos of his wife with Kuwabara to initiate divorce on the grounds of infidelity.
But around the time of their third date, Kuwabara made what proved to be a fatal mistake: he fell in love with his prey and asked her to cohabit with him. Despite having a wife and child residing in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, he set up a second home with Isohata in a manshon on the other side of town. Kuwabara soon ran out of funds and fought with his employer, which revealed his true occupation to Isohata.
The infuriated Isohata confronted her lover and the two fought violently.
“Kuwabara is a pretty sleazy character,” a report for a local news desk tells the magazine. “His victim learned what he really was at the start of the divorce hearing. He was also in hock to loan sharks. He claimed he had been slandered by his own family, but actually he may have gone after Isohata because her family had property.”
Upon the handing down of a 15-year sentence for homicide, when Kuwabara faced the deceased’s family and bowed in repentance, Isohata’s father exclaimed, “I’ll hate you forever!”
The cost of retaining a breaker-upper is said to range from 500,000 to 1.6 million yen, with an additional bonus, paid upon successful completion of the assignment, of between 250,000 and 800,000 yen. Yet despite these high costs, there seems to be no lack of demand, not only by married couples but by singles as well.
The wakararesase-ya profession was little known until Fuji TV ran an eponymous drama series in 2001. After that, however, demand took off and businesses are currently said to generate annual revenues of several hundreds of millions of yen.
A search of the Web found about 270 companies that undertake such jobs. Such businesses are enabled by the fact that Japan’s current laws covering stalking, extortion or coercion don’t apply to the profession. “There’s no statute specifically prohibiting what they do,” says journalist Akihiro Otani. “The law banning anti-social activities by organized crime can’t be applied either.”
“Behind it all, what you are seeing is an increase in the number of people who can’t take matters into their own hands and want to delegate it to an outsider,” explains a source in the industry.
Source: “Onna no kyusho wo tsuku wakaresase-ya no kuchidoki-jutsu,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Apr. 1, page 46)