Foreign Export

(There have been a lot of posts here lately concerning some serious subjects, such as the pending US election or the Russian invasion of Georgia. I thought we could use some lighter fare.)

It must have been twenty years since I first heard about it. A wife would wonder if her husband was cheating on her, but hiring a detective agency to follow him around can cost a great deal of money. What happens if he is in between affairs? It could be years before he strays again.

So a few detective agencies here in the United States employed attractive young women who would carefully strike up a seemingly chance friendship with the suspected husband. The idea was to never actually suggest anything illicit, but to see if the subject of the investigation would pursue this particular honey pot. If he mentioned right off that he was married and wanted to talk about his family in a positive way, then the investigation would end. If he suggested a weekend getaway with his attractive new buddy, then that would also mean the end of the caper.

The idea here is to see if the husband was wise in the ways of philandery. If he knew what he was doing and moved in for the kill, then at least the wife would know that he was unhappy with the marriage enough to stray when opportunity came a’knockin’.

Is this still something that happens now, or was it a minor fad that ran its course decades ago? I have no idea, but I am having trouble finding any mention of this sort of thing online. Even if there are still detective agencies that offer this service, it must be a very narrow niche market that isn’t very well known.

Our fellow Chicago Boy Steven has written a post concerning a similar service that is available in Japan. They have certainly put their own cultural stamp on things. For one thing, the female lure seems to be willing to allow things to get physical in order to get the goods on the target. For another, the agencies also offer similar services, this time employing a male lure, for husbands that want to dig up some dirt on their wives. They even offer to conduct some rather elaborate operations to manipulate lost loves into giving a client a second chance.

Go ahead and read the newspaper article which discusses the practice
. Seems like an awful lot of money is being spent in Japan by people who need help in ordering their love lives.

I can see why this sort of thing isn’t very popular over here in the States. It rarely makes a difference during a divorce if one of the spouses is sleeping around, so there isn’t a financial reason to find out for sure. A divorce can also be sought by either party without the other granting consent, while in Japan it seems that infidelity is grounds for an annulment whether or not everyone agrees.

The sting operations described in the article are pretty elaborate, real James Bond kind of stuff. There really isn’t any financial motive to seek out services like that here in the US, but I can see why it would be worth the expense to someone who lives in a culture that will take such evidence into account when the family assets are carved up by the divorce judge. The article makes it clear that there are a variety of detective agencies that offer these services, and some of them are flush enough to maintain fleets of expensive cars to be used in the sting operations. That doesn’t happen unless a lot of people are willing to spend a lot of money for your services.

It also seems to me that the rigid social structure in Japan creates an almost unique environment for companies that offer these services. People make a big deal about how individuals will go to great lengths to try and avoid shame in that country, but they rarely mention that it also effects the bottom line. In Western societies, it is generally accepted that having trouble in your personal life usually doesn’t have anything to do with your performance or fitness in business. It seems to me that this doesn’t apply in Japan, where even the appearance of impropriety can damage your career prospects.

Stories like these, where people can be manipulated so easily if they are born into a shame based culture, makes me appreciate my own even more. Sure there are problems with a society that is individual-centric, but I think that it is still better than the alternative.

(Hat tip to The Volokh Conspiracy, who first brought the article to Steven’s attention.)

2 thoughts on “Foreign Export”

  1. “That doesn’t happen unless a lot of people are willing to spend a lot of money for your services.”

    Not necessarily. Some of these outfits are money laundering operations for the yakusa, or were when I lived there. The Korean mob got in on the action, as well.

  2. Some of these outfits are money laundering operations for the yakusa, or were when I lived there. The Korean mob got in on the action, as well.

    You know, I never thought of that! And I should have.

    Very good point, John!


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