Japanese Disconnect

Story courtesy of The Telegraph:

Japanese couples, too busy for a normal social life, are increasingly turning to actors to play their friends on the most important days of their lives.

Several agencies have sprung up offering actors to attend weddings or even funerals. The first guest-for-hire company was established about nine years ago and around 10 now send out dozens of pretend friends to family events.
Agencies such as Hagemashi Tai – which means “I want to cheer you up” – charge around £100 for each “guest”. Other services such as giving a speech in praise of a bride or the groom cost extra.
The emergence of the small fake friends industry has been linked to social and economic changes in Japan. With lifetime employment a thing of the past, couples feel uncomfortable about inviting work colleagues to their wedding. Increasingly busy and put upon, many Japanese surround themselves with only a very small circle of friends.
When they marry, however, they are under pressure to match the number of their new partner’s wedding guests.
Office Agents, the largest provider of pretend friends, makes sure that its employees have done their homework and know all about the bride or groom before the wedding.
Hiroshi Mizutani, the company’s founder, said the fake friends he provides must look happy, be well dressed and look like people with good jobs.

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