Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Japan's New Professional Seducers

Case 1: Mr A and Kyoko

3.30pm. Mr A is outside a bank in a busy part of Ikebukuro, a faintly seedy area of Tokyo, waiting for his date. He beams as she teeters across the road on high heels. Kyoko, 20, is half his age. She has a mane of black hair, sloe eyes, a fetching smile and a cute giggle. Her blouse is open to reveal her cleavage and she has on a short skirt and sheer black tights. Mr A is a bald 40-year-old salesman in a crumpled grey suit and glasses.

Mr A met Kyoko by chance in the street; the first time she asked him for directions, then they bumped into each other again, and since then they have been exchanging flirtatious texts.

They stop off at a cigarette machine, then go to a cheap basement restaurant for spaghetti. He has bought her moisturiser and cleanser. She giggles coyly: “Next time, why don’t you give me a ring?” At 4.30 they’re outside a pawnbroker’s, looking at rings. Their shoulders touch, then they reach for each other’s hands.

They head for north Ikebukuro, an area of love hotels with velvet-covered walls, mirrored ceilings and sexy videos that rent rooms for two-hour periods. At 4.45 they go into one. They take a picture of the two of them on her mobile. At 6.07 they leave. At the station Mr A gives Kyoko a furtive goodbye kiss. Next time, he says, he’ll take her somewhere nice – a hot-spring resort maybe, or Tokyo Disneyland. Then he goes back to the office and, later, home to his wife.

Mr A doesn’t know that a team of private investigators is recording his every move. The boss, the ebullient Mr Tomiya, lurks behind a lamppost on the other side of the road and takes photographs as Kyoko meets Mr A. Tomiya’s equipment includes a packet of cigarettes and a pen, both of which are actually cameras. Shimizu, a heavy-set man with a bullet head and cropped hair, carries a black bag. It contains a camera with which he films continuously through a tiny hole in the bag. A third man acts as a lookout. They follow the couple down the street, dodging the crowds and sprinting across red lights, keeping far enough behind so as not to arouse suspicion but close enough so that Shimizu can film.

Mr A, who has been married for 20 years and has a son of 19 at university, is prone to violence and beats his wife. She confided in a male friend, whom she then fell for, but when she suggested divorce to Mr A, he simply hit her. In desperation she turned to the internet, where she found Tomiya and his company, GNC.

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