I sat there in the cafe, drinking my too-foamy latte. The beans had been burnt, no surprise there. I added honey to override the crap taste. It was raining, as it was prone to do this time of year.
The chill of the early November Autumn was working its way into the air. Just before, I had tucked into the Uni Qlo on the floor below to pick up an outer layer. I did this more so in the off chance that I would need to lose it quickly later, than I needed additional sniffle gear from the cool air. It was bright green, this outer layer. Xevious stitched into the back. Good ol’ retro. And if I was wearing it, someone looking for me would be looking for a bright green jogging jacket.
Shinjuku was a constant ant farm of urban activity. Getting there by bus at 5:00 am was about the only way you would ever see the place dead. Truly a wonder of nature, watching the busiest train station on Earth turn from ghost town into…well, the busiest train station in Earth.
Japan’s first Krispie Kreme was just across the tracks, and even after a couple of years to settle in, there was still a wait just to get a damn donut. So, I opted for this smaller cafe. I had brought my own food with me this time around, as I would only be here for the day. Sammiches; PB&J.
Conveniently, there was a traditional Japanese martial arts demonstration going on not too far from where I was sitting, at the Meiji Shrine. Fantastic thing to watch, if not complete overkill after a solid 8 hours of watching people hit each other with sticks, throw metal spikes at boards, or try and cut rolled up tatami mats.
I checked my keitai (cell, or mobile, phone) for the time, popped the right earbud out of my ear, and slid it into my chest pocket. What I came to Tokyo for had just rounded the corner. This seat gave me a great view of the pedestrian thoroughfare.
I waited for him to get closer, then stood and waved at him. The fact that I noticed him long before he noticed me was laughable, but no real surprise. He was early, which was commendable, but not earlier than I. I greeted him as he came in, asked him what he’d like to drink, and complimented him on his English. (Consider that the breach.)
As far as Kenji was concerned I was just a guy who was interested in Japanese culture, and this topic was something I couldn’t really read about anywhere. We knew some people who knew some people, and I gained an introduction. He had family up in my neck of the woods and had spent some time up there as a kid. We joked about Onsen Country, and country girls. (Consider that the bang.)
What followed was my introduction into the “Wakaresaseya.” And my personal perspective on the lengths to which the Japanese would go to maintain their facade–while manipulating what lies beneath–was staggeringly altered. I was *very* familiar with the East Asian tendency to completely avoid direct confrontation if at all possible, but this shit got red pill/blue pill real fucking fast. Just another dark alley down an already dark and twisted lane.
Wakaresaseya translates roughly–and I do mean roughly–as ‘breaker upper person’. “Kenji,” here, was one of these. He had once specialized in befriending, and then seducing into extra-marital activity, married women. By the time of this meeting, he was essentially a handler for other Waks. He ran a dozen or so Waks, mostly young women. Now these younger Joes and Janes did what he used to do: Incriminate motherfuckers.
Here’s an example: The wife of a successful businessman does not want to be married anymore. She can’t just show up to court and tell the judge she doesn’t want to be married anymore. Well, she can, but she ain’t getting a damn thing from her husband once the deal is sealed. Or unsealed, I guess. So, she has to have a “reason” for wanting a divorce. Infidelity is a good one. So, she needs her husband to be unfaithful…whether he actually is, or not. This is where cats like Kenji, and his crew, come in.
The really interesting thing about Waks (and there are many slightly different variations of them) is that they operate on both sides of the omote/ura line to affect perception, and, thus, reality. Pretty romantically philosophical way to put that, but it is nonetheless completely accurate. Wak-work is social engineering, but privatized, operationalized, and amplified. And their M.O. very specifically has them running cross-border ops–but the border here is one of [exploitable] social perception, not of political hegemony.
Kenji and his company work mainly with marriages, and ending them. However, there are other Wak variants that specialize in ending business relationships. Still others that work on “mending” relationships by ending extra-marital ones. And still others that operate specifically to “fill in” certain socio-familial roles for clients who may be in need of a “father” or “husband” or whatever, for some social transaction. The tangled webs…
We’ll keep it closer to the companies that operate more along the lines of the one Kenji worked for. They have either cloak & dagger names that include shit like “Shadow” or “Secret,” or they lean toward sterile names that include words like “Solutions” or “Systems.” They all advertise, but Kenji insisted that most of his company’s clients were word of mouth. And at the time of this interview, the majority of these companies tended to serve–or at least have more–female clientele.
It’s also not exactly a unanimous thing that these “operatives” (this is a misnomer, but is still what they call themselves, and are called by others), and the companies that run them, work specifically to incriminate a target through operational prowess. There are times when the Wak company simply investigates a target and finds that they are already involved in illicit amorosity. In fact, in all of the companies I have observed there is an investigative element that goes to work before the operational “breaking up” shit occurs. And very seldom are the investigative-types the same folks as the operative-types. This 2-Shop/3-Shop or INT/OPS stuff may seem familiar to some of you.
The investigators are usually reasonably trained professionals. And although they can get into some gumshoe shit on occasion, they usually end up just running the same gauntlet that any everyday stalker would run. The operational Joes and Janes are–as you can imagine–cut from some different cloth. And by that, I mean they basically need to be hot. The Joes need to look like they are in a Korean soap opera, and the Janes need to look like they are in a J-Pop girl band. This is, of course, a gross generalization…but it nonetheless fits, generally.
My main man Kenji got hired on-site at a bar. He was sitting next to a couple who were obviously into each other. A 20-something dude, and an “older woman.” In fact, Kenji mentioned that this woman turned out to be a textbook target, in his experience.
“Yeah, man. Most of my targets were cougars,” he laughed. “Do you still call them that? Sexy older ladies.” I affirmed his question, and added that it may not be a great idea to ever call one that in her presence. He laughed.
He went on with his story of how he got hired. He said that as soon as the older woman left the bar, the younger man pulled out his keitai and called someone. After his short convo, he hung up. Kenji said he just sat there staring at the guy for a second, and the guy started laughing. After a couple more drinks, and some explaining, Kenji was asked if he wanted to come in to talk to this guy’s company. So he did. That was 5 years prior to my meeting with Kenji that day in Shinjuku.
At the time Kenji was hired, there were about a dozen of these companies that specialized in breaking people up. Most were either in the Kanto (Tokyo) area, or the Kansai (Osaka/Kobe) area. By the time of this sit-down with Kenji, there were many more. And many more varieties. They were all pretty low-profile enterprises until February of 2010, when one of the Kenji-variety Waks got sentenced to 17 years for murder.
In this case, a man was looking for grounds for divorce. He approached a Wakaresaseya company. The company assigned one of their operatives. The operative then tracked and seduced the target. At some point, he let his feelings get in the way of his job, and he “fell in love” with his target. When the relationship went sour and the woman tried to end it, the Wak strangled her.
Real boy-meets-girl scenario. The media blew up with articles about this type of Wak. Most articles were just chopped versions of one or two original articles. Shortly thereafter, it all dropped off the radar again.
The ura/omote line exists in all facets of Japanese life. I will harp on this, because understanding that fact is the cornerstone for any real understanding of Japanese life, society, and culture. Certainly it gets more tenuous in some aspects than in others. So, when you’ve got people like this jumping all over that line to incriminate and influence someone, you no doubt have a shit ton of possibilities for exploitation. And with *zero* countermeasures afoot, targets of opportunity are as numerous as swingin’ dicks.
Why is this at all relevant? I’m glad you asked. Operationalized sexuality is not only a socially acceptable means to achieve objectives in Asia (and elsewhere, of course), it’s a politically driven doctrine going back thousands of years.
Weaponized ass is actually the first section of Chapter Six, in the Chinese political masterpiece, The 36 Stratagems. That section is titled, The Honeypot. And falls in the chapter titled, Desperate Stratagems.
There have been a bag full of allegations in recent years regarding this strategy being used against foreign companies competing in (and with) China on the bullet train project(s) there. The Chinese Communist Party is known by foreign CI agencies to use this strategy regularly against political, military, industrial, tech, etc., etc., etc., players in and out of China. In late 2011, British and French security services were issuing warnings to travelers, specifically business-oriented travelers.
With recent advances in Chinese global policy, cyber warfare, and overt regional expansionism, it would be wise to keep in mind all the avenues of approach they deem accessible and appropriate. I guess that now includes popping up, uninvited, in a sub in the middle of a fucking USN exercise. Never saw that comin’. But I guess that’s why they call it “unrestricted” warfare.
Modern East Asia brings with it its own unique brand of challenges. This type of conflict resolution and warfare is not the least of these. And sexpionage in Asia ranges from politically sanctioned cloak & dagger agents to a multi-million dollar fucking industry. Um…literally.
So, my hours-long Q&A with Kenji culminated in me getting the names and contact info of a few of his operatives, and the name and contact info of his immediate supervisor. He even managed to pull up a few pictures on his keitai, so I could clock some mugs. (Consider that the clear.)
Kenji and I said our goodbyes. I thanked him for his time, and told him to look me up if he was ever back in my ‘hood. He said he had some stuff to attend to, and that he was sorry he had to leave. We shook hands and bowed, and he turned and dropped into the bustling pedestrian flow. I turned and made my egress back into the station itself, stuffing my sweet green Xevious jacket into my backpack as I went. I had nine hours to kill in Tokyo. And with a handful of names, numbers, faces and locations…much mischief to manage.
(Main Image: Erica Shimizu Courtesy of Albert Normandin)