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Monday, 21st September 2009
In General Japan News,

Japanese 'rent-a-friend' agencies increasingly popular

Japanese people who want a partner for a social event or who need someone to make a speech at their wedding are increasingly turning to 'rent-a-friend' agencies, it has been reported.

According to the Guardian, the number of such service agencies has doubled in Japan over the past eight years. Office Agent, which the newspaper noted is the most famous agency, has 1,000 people on its books.

"The rise of the phony friend is a symptom of social and economic changes, combined with a deep-seated cultural aversion to giving personal and professional problems a public airing," the newspaper said.

In a specific case covered by the source, one woman hired a man from an agency to attend her children's sports day.

Her children had been bullied at school over their absent father and he posed an as uncle of the family to try and stop the youngsters being teased.

In an interview with the Telegraph in June, the owner of Office Agents Hiroshi Mizutani noted that people could also turn to the service if some wedding guests suddenly cancelled.

Written by Kimberley Homer.