In March of this year, the New Zealand government launched a plan called “Love Better,” which is expected to cost $4 million, to help young people who are going through emotional distress.
In Japan, helping people deal with breakup issues has long been a booming industry. According to media reports, in 2020, there were 270 “breakup shops” advertising online throughout Japan.
Since the era of the pandemic, similar public projects and business ventures have emerged in various countries and regions. It is evident that parting on good terms is a basic human need.
The divorce statement of Chen Chi-chen and Zhong Cheng-hu is correct: to understand how to love someone is what it means to be an adult. But just like a snake shedding its skin, this process is not only painful but also risky. Some people break free from the cocoon, while others are destroyed; some face it bravely, while others avoid it. As a result, business, rules, and art have emerged from the struggles of people, reflecting the bright and dark sides of human nature.
In 2010, Japanese society was shocked by a sensational murder case. The perpetrator, Takehaya Takeru, strangled his girlfriend, Igarashi Rie, who wanted to break up with him. The reason Igarashi Rie wanted to end the relationship was because she discovered Takeru’s true identity—he was a “breakup specialist” hired by her own husband, with the aim of luring her into infidelity and collecting evidence for divorce proceedings. But no one expected that Takeru and Igarashi Rie would develop genuine feelings for each other. When the truth was revealed, the entanglement of love, money, contracts, and deception ultimately ended in the loss of lives.
This case brought the underground and trust-crisis-ridden industry of “breakup specialists” in Japan to the surface and directly led to industry reforms. Private detective agencies that cooperate with breakup specialists are now required to have licenses, sexual relationships between breakup specialists and their targets during assignments are strictly prohibited, online advertisements have been eliminated, and as a result, breakup specialists seemed to disappear for a long time—at least it appeared that way.
However, in Japan, where any interpersonal problem can be turned into a business opportunity, breakup shops (similar to the aforementioned breakup specialists) have never closed. According to statistics in 2020, about 270 breakup shops in Japan advertised online, indicating that the intertwining of money and deception is more common than people imagine, and “parting on good terms” remains an elusive necessity in the adult world.
Literally speaking, the goal of breakup specialists is to help people end an intimate relationship without having to do it themselves to avoid awkwardness. But awkwardness is just the least significant problem that breakup specialists have to deal with. The most frequent requests received by breakup shops are related to infidelity, including emotional damage, divorce planning, persuading or reconciling with third parties. Unraveling the tangle of love, hatred, and complex emotions in the most efficient and peaceful manner possible is what breakup specialists are tasked with.