Meanwhile in Japan: Rented family members

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Velox, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. Velox

    Velox TZT Abuser

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    This was both interesting and disturbing. It's difficult to imagine the cultural differences that would make something like this be preferable.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-46261699

    'I hire a man to pretend to be my daughter’s dad - and she doesn't know'

    Megumi was a baby when her parents separated and her father disappeared from her life. But years later her mother told her he wanted to reconnect. Megumi began to see Yamada regularly. She thinks he is her father, and that Yamada is his real name - but this is a lie.

    "Ever since she was little she'd ask me where he was," says Megumi's mother, Asako. "All she knew was that he had gone soon after she was born, so she blamed herself."

    For years it didn't appear to be a problem. But when Megumi was about 10, Asako noticed a change in her daughter's behaviour.

    "She didn't talk to me and became very quiet and withdrawn," Asako says.

    "It took a long while to find out about the bullying."

    Asako discovered that Megumi wasn't only blaming herself for her parents' breakup. Her classmates were also ostracising her because she didn't have a dad - children of single parents are often stigmatised in Japan.

    Eventually she became so unhappy that she refused to go to school.

    "She's my only child and it was breaking my heart to see her so sad," Asako says.

    She tried to get the teachers at school to help, but when that failed another idea came into her head.

    "All I could think about was, what if I found a man who was nice and kind, an ideal father, someone who would make her feel better?" Asako says.

    She'd heard about relative rental agencies that could send an actor to play a guest at a wedding or go on a date - they are well established in Japan. So she contacted one to ask if they could also provide a fake dad. After auditioning five hopefuls, she settled on a man called Mr Takashi.

    "I found him the easiest to talk to," Asako says. "He's very kind and sweet, so I just followed my instincts."

    Takashi runs a rental agency with about 20 staff and more than 1,000 freelancers - men and women of different ages and backgrounds who can cater for almost any situation, taking on fake names, personalities and roles. They often have to lie, but they are very strict about not breaking the law.

    As an actor himself, he's played boyfriends, businessmen, friends and fathers, and been a bridegroom at five fake weddings.

    He prepares for his roles, he confesses, by watching Hollywood movies like Little Miss Sunshine, the Oscar-winning film about a dysfunctional family bonding on a road trip, and The Descendants, in which George Clooney plays an indifferent parent who suddenly has to embrace fatherhood after a family tragedy.

    "I study these films, and memorise phrases and lines," Takashi says. "I take notes on how different family members interact and communicate, and what it takes to be a certain kind of father or husband. They help me understand different family dynamics and relationships."

    Asako met Takashi several times to talk about the kind of father she wanted him to play to Megumi.

    "My requests were very simple," she says. "Firstly, I wanted him to say how sorry he was that he couldn't be in Megumi's life until then. Secondly, I wanted him to listen to whatever she wanted to tell him."

    Asako then told Megumi that her father had remarried and now had a new family, but that he had recently been back in touch because he wanted to see them again.

    He was working, she said, as "an actor".

    Megumi was shocked, but eventually agreed to meet him. And so, nearly 10 years ago, Takashi became Yamada, Megumi's father - his longest-running, and perhaps most ethically dubious role to date.

    Takashi still remembers their first meeting.

    "It was a very complex emotion that was there," he says. "She asked me why I hadn't come to see her before, and I felt her resentment."

    As Yamada, Takashi began seeing Megumi and her mother a couple of times a month - joining them on days out, trips to the cinema and visiting for birthdays. And Asako says it didn't take long to see a real change in her daughter.

    "After a while Megumi became much happier and more outgoing," she says. "She loved to talk, she was lively - she even wanted to go back to school, and that's when I thought, 'This has all been worth it!'"

    One particular occasion sticks in Asako's mind - when she and Yamada were at Megumi's school parents' day.

    "We were standing at the back of the classroom," Asako says. "She saw us together and kept on turning around to look at us. She had the biggest smile on her face and that made me really happy."

    Takashi's services are not cheap. Each time Asako hires him to play Yamada she pays about 10,000 Yen, (about £70 or $90), and although she earns a decent salary she has to make savings elsewhere to afford it. But when she remembers how unhappy her daughter once was, she thinks it is money well spent.

    Takashi also sees a difference in Megumi, from the quiet, hesitant girl that he first met.

    "Gradually she became happier and more confident," he says. "I used to meet her with Asako, the three of us together, but one day she said, 'I want to go out with my father, just the two of us,' so I took her out and she held my hand for the first time."

    Over the last 10 years, Takashi's character Yamada has grown very close to Megumi, now a young adult. He's become a part of the family. He even tells Megumi that he loves her, in the way that any father might - but, of course, he doesn't really.

    How does he justify this act of deception?

    "Switching personalities and identities is very important in this job," he says. "But I'm human, and so, of course, it would be a lie if I said I don't feel any emotional conflict saying, 'I love you,' to that child. But this is a business, I have to do it, and I have to keep reminding myself of that."

    Asako also understands that some might disagree with her choices.

    "I know what I'm doing is drastic," she says. "But I really, really wanted to save my daughter."

    To complicate matters, she has also become very attached to the fictional character she is paying Takashi to portray.

    "When the three of us are together, I feel at peace," she says.

    "We talk, we laugh and we are very kind to each other. He's been in our lives for such a long time now, I would like to marry him and become a real family."

    But Asako has had to face the bittersweet reality that she is in love with someone who isn't real and who cannot love her back.

    "I have told him [how I feel], but he told me to my face that he's with us because it's his job. It's very complicated," she says.

    "I'm very aware that he's only with us because we're paying him.

    "I sort of fantasise about our relationship, that maybe we can be a real family, but the relationship as it is actually helps me emotionally and mentally as well. It keeps me stable."

    In fact, Asako has no plans to end the arrangement with Takashi and says she would like to carry on hiring him to play Megumi's dad indefinitely - even if that means sinking deeper and deeper into a world of fantasy and deception.

    "The ideal situation is that she continues to think of him as her father," she says. "So when she gets married I'd like him to be at her wedding ceremony, and when she has her own child, I'd like him to act as a grandfather as well. The worst case scenario is that my daughter finds out."

    And if Megumi's real father were to ever turn up?

    That's not a possibility that Asako has ever really considered. As she hasn't had any contact with him since their divorce she feels it is unlikely - but if he did walk through the door one day, she thinks Megumi would choose Yamada over her real dad, because they have such a good "father-daughter" relationship. He is the ideal father, just as Asako hoped he would be.

    Takashi is also aware that the lie could continue to grow.

    "This is one of the big issues of renting a family," he says. "Megumi could get married in the future and then her husband would think I'm her father. If she then has her own child that means she'd believe I'm the grandfather of her child, and the stakes get bigger and bigger."

    And he has thought about how Megumi might feel if she finds out - though the plotlines he envisages might strike many as highly optimistic.

    "In the best case scenario, I'd like to think that she might thank me for taking care of her - that is 80% of my imagination," he says.

    "The other 20% thinks that she would be devastated. She might say, 'Why did you come clean? Why couldn't you just keep lying to me until the end?'

    "I think I've been a big support in her life... Maybe asking her to thank me is a bit excessive, but at least I'd like her to recognise our service."

    Many might also find it hard to understand why Asako has chosen to do something which could be so distressing for her daughter, if she discovers the truth. Yet she stands by her decision.

    "I know some people think it's foolish to pay money to lie to my own daughter and to have a pretend father, but I was desperate," she says.

    "Anyone can understand that horrible feeling of desperation, to see your child so hurt."

    She says she does worry about the potential impact on Megumi, but tries not to think about it.

    And she thinks this kind of thing happens more than you might imagine.

    "My situation isn't unique. I'm sure there are loads more surrogate fathers and mothers out there."

     
  2. LiasTZ

    LiasTZ TZT Veteran

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    Nothing in the land of used school girl panty vending machines and tentacle sex surprises me any more..
     
  3. Utumno

    Utumno Administrator Staff Member

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    God damn, that's crazy.

    I mean assuming best case scenario, the fake dad is able to keep playing the role with no issues for the rest of his life... he will croak someday. The daughter will want to be at the funeral, and that shit just isn't going to work out. I guess they could make up some story like he fell into a wood chipper or some shit lol
     
  4. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    It's an oversimplification obviously, but this really does seem to me to boil down primarily to wide-spread repression.

    Basically even if everyone agrees your situation sucks and it's other people's fault (your kid getting bullied because you're single, say), they'll still look down on you for airing your dirty laundry/selfishly making the community uncomfortable for the sake of your own personal redress if you try to do anything about it.

    so instead of cultural initiatives like after school specials and guest speakers at schools to combat bullying (which, yeah, are of questionable effectiveness anyway, I suppose) you get absentee-parent rental agencies.
     
  5. Utumno

    Utumno Administrator Staff Member

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    I kinda get what you mean when saying "repression" but it seems to go a bit beyond that - like social pressures to conform are so strong that a kid gets ostracized for something that is absolutely not her fault, that's just plain dickheaded and wrong. I guess it reminds me of making fun of someone who is mentally disabled or gay, but even in those cases you can understand why people are being awful pieces of shit because they are unable to avoid their own discomfort of seeing someone behaving very differently. But not having a dad? That's not even detectable from observing a person. What the shit, Japan.
     
  6. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    many japanese shows/anime have a setup that has to do with acting like you're in a relationship or someone's family member

    I feel like this has more to do with the conservative culture and how other people would view things in a negative light (fatherless) rather than be more beneficial for the child (they have someone filling the roll but it's only to appease the public audience)
     
  7. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    At the school I worked at in Japan a girl was raped and photos of topless and covered in semen were sent all around the school, and literally nothing happened to the kid. Turns out the father *of the girl* wanted it covered up. So every teacher knew, and all the students knew because the pictures were floating around, but it was still "covered up," to "spare the girl." It's possible there was some back-alley justice, like the father of the kid beat his ass, or maybe even let the other father beat the kid's ass, but on the level there was literally nothing. I was told this candidly by my supervisor. He obviously wasn't happy with the situation, but was also totally resigned to it, as was the mood with everyone. I honestly thought it was some kind of fucked up joke at first because the emotional tenor was so totally out of whack.

    I think if I'd've known which kid it was I might've literally murdered him in the halls, but there was nothing I could do to make any positive difference in the situation, as it was.
     
  8. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    yeah, face is a big deal

    different in asia depending where you are, but always serious

    Honor killings in the muslim world (permanent stain has to be removed), and weird inward oppression for the far east (blemish that will be avoided/forgotten)
     
  9. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    Yeah but it's not like picking on kids with divorced parents wasn't fairly common even as recently as when I was in elementary school? That's certainly not unique to Japan--what's different is that here we had a whole cultural epoch dedicated to normalizing single-parent households while in Japan it's hush hush because it's uncouth to talk about it
     
  10. Utumno

    Utumno Administrator Staff Member

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    god damn, fuck that place.

    great country to visit but i don't know if i could deal with being around that shit (like you said, there would be endless temptation to beat the shit out of someone or somehow take revenge for someone else and make a big spectacle)
     
  11. Sear

    Sear TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    So this will either end horribly & permanently damage a child forever, or have a positive impact on their life (via the lie going to the grave with the mother/actor).

    In any event, I don't agree with the parent's willingness to subject their child to that risk.

    I don't feel like that behavior is exclusive to Japan tho. Kids are fucking vicious to eachother before they know any better (and even after they do).

    There was an adopted kid who got it bad at my school. I got off light with my eye condition but it was still worse than getting physically beaten. And I'm pretty sure the fat kid who had to jog his last lap solo in PE while the entire class guffawed at him will come kill us all someday.
     
  12. Agrul

    Agrul TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    yah cant imagine that ever happening here

    USA USA USA
     
  13. Sear

    Sear TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    also that actor might as well take it a step further and get some hidden cameras & product placement in there for a reality TV show

    if ur gonna do something, do it well

     
  14. Sear

    Sear TZT Neckbeard Lord

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  15. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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  16. Agrul

    Agrul TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    high-level administrator in organization has no idea what he's doing?!!
     
  17. Agrul

    Agrul TZT Neckbeard Lord

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  18. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    https://soranews24.com/2019/02/11/a...yo-by-revolutionary-alliance-of-unpopular-men

    Anti-Valentine’s Day protest march held in Tokyo by Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men【Vid】


    [​IMG]

    Shibuya demonstration also attracts one woman in call to “Crush romantic capitalism!”


    February 14 falls on a Thursday this year, and so Japan’s Kakumeiteki Himote Domei organization decided it would be best to plan their annual Valentine’s Day event for the Saturday before. However, last Saturday saw a sudden cold snap bring freezing cold to the Tokyo area, with snow flurries part of the forecast as well, which was bad news for the group, since its gathering was being held outdoors.

    Nevertheless, Kakumeiteki Himote Domei braved the cold as members showed up for the 12th annual Valentine’s event. That might have you thinking they’re true romantics, but actually it’s just the opposite, as Kakumeiteki Himote Domei translates to Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men.


    Beginning with a rally at a park in Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood, Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men leader Takayuki Akimoto greeted those in attendance, and took a moment to praise the group’s continued efforts to bring down “romantic capitalism.” Speaking about the recent rise in Japan of people buying Valentine’s Day chocolate for themselves or friends, he boasted that this social dynamic was “unmistakably” the result of the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men’s decade-plus of public protests undermining the tradition of giving chocolates to your sweetheart on February 14.

    ▼ The statement was met with a moderately loud cheer from the eight other people in attendance.

    [​IMG]

    With the participants suitably pumped up, they began their protest march, complete with police escort, thought the streets of Shibuya. “Crush Valentine’s Day!” shouted Akimoto into his megaphone, with the other marchers, who included one woman, repeating. “Crush romantic capitalism!” he continued. “Don’t by controlled by the conspiracies of the candy makers!”

    ▼ The outside temperature during the march was zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit)

    [​IMG]

    If Akimoto’s voice sounds familiar, you might remember him from another of the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men regularly activities: it’s annual protest march against Christmas Eve, the most important date night of the year in Japan. However, in 2018 the group was unable to get a permit from the park in which it wanted to hold its rally, and had to settle for an indoor anti-Christmas Eve date symposium instead.

    The alliance also often holds a protest against White Day, observed on March 14, when Japanese men are supposed to give thank-you gifts to women who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day. However, no White Day protest was held in 2018, making last week’s Valentine’s Day gathering the group’s first march in a full year.

    ▼ The Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men Valentine’s protest march crossing the world-famous Shibuya Scramble intersection

    [​IMG]

    While there was definitely a certain tongue-in-cheek attitude from some of the marchers (the two men holding the banner Akimoto marches under can be seen chuckling a few times), the alliance actually does make a few poignant points as well. “Don’t judge a person’s worth by how many people they receive Valentine’s Day chocolate from!” commanded Akimoto, along with “It’s wrong to make fun of unpopular people!”

    ▼ The group was silent on the debate on obligation chocolate, which has been a sore spot between foreign chocolatier Godiva and the makers of popular domestic candy Black Thunder.

    [​IMG]

    It’s a little hard to tell how serious the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men wants to be taken. On the one hand, the expressions on the faces of some of the march’s participants seem to suggest even they think the whole thing is a little silly, but Akimoto himself speaks with such conviction that he’s either a true believer or extremely committed to his comedy performance. Either way, dateless or not, the march’s participants seemed to enjoy each other’s companionship, and at least their march was less disruptive than certain other gatherings in Shibuya.
     
  19. Red

    Red TZT Neckbeard

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    Fucking hate valentine's day. But my M'lady loves it the most out of every holiday.
     
  20. Utumno

    Utumno Administrator Staff Member

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    Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular Men

    I mean that really does sound like just an /r/incels meeting right?

    That said, fuck Valentines day. They got that part right lol