Japanese company does thriving trade in ‘fake friends’
Along with choosing a dress and booking a honeymoon, there is one other item to add to the wedding checklist in Japan: hiring fake friends.
Office Agents, a Tokyo-based company, rents out friends, work colleagues and even relatives to pad out the guest list.
For £127, one of the company’s agents will attend the wedding as a guest, while a heart-tugging speech will cost an extra £64 and a song or dance will set clients back a mere £32.
Brides or grooms who want to impress their prospective partners with their sheer volume of friends are among those secretly padding the guest list with fakes.
The recession has also boosted the popularity of the service. With unemployment rising and a growing number of Japanese in part time jobs, people rent fake bosses or colleagues.
Others turning to the company for fake work-related guests are those who have recently lost their jobs but want to maintain an air of respectability, according to Hiroshi Mizutani, who heads Office Agents.
“We’ll attend the wedding as your friend instead of your friend,” said Mr Mizutani.
“Suddenly, a guest might not be able to make it. Or maybe you are concerned about the gap in the number of guests you have compared to your partner. Or, there are many temp workers these days and they may be uncomfortable inviting the boss.”
At one recent wedding, the groom secretly arranged for all 30 guests to be hired as friends and family members as it was his second marriage and he did not want the same guests present as the first time round.
The company also provides the hiring of fake companions at events ranging from corporate functions and funerals to private events.
Stand-in lovers, pretend secretaries and distant relatives are among a colourful cast of popular roles played by the company’s army of fakers.
Describing the necessary credentials for his “fakers”, Mr Mizutani said: “They are cheery and clean and look like they have regular jobs.”
guess you can neve have too many, even if you have to buy them