An increasing number of lonely people in Japan are willing to pay a high price to spend some time in the company of other people. So, they rent a friend. In other words, they hire a random actor, sometimes for just a day, to spend time together.
There are at least 10 companies — twice as many as eight years ago — that designed special services for lonely people or for people who choose to avoid the responsibility that real friendships and relationships bring.
Client Partners, one of the leading companies, Client Partners, charges about Y2,980 ($28) per hour, though the first hour costs double, including transport costs, the international press reports. The company receives dozens of requests every month.
“These are people who lack self-confidence and are particularly sensitive to other people’s judgement,” said one company official.
Although the sizes of the problem can not be exactly measured, loneliness is threatening more and more in Japan.
“Fewer and fewer students participate in the activities organised by the clubs and societies,” says Sohei Ide, from Osaka University, an expert on issues relating to isolation and author of an investigation about student’s social attendance and participation.
“If they fail to make contacts during their early days on campus, they will remain permanently isolated.”