Single and Japanese: agency sets sights on British salarymen

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The Independent Online

Suck in the beer belly, put away the ale and crisps and ditch the jeans and T-shirt; Oriental women want you. A successful dating agency called Destina Japan has opened an office in the UK in an attempt to pair off unmarried Japanese women with their male counterparts in Britain. But be warned: you'll need a fat wallet.

Suck in the beer belly, put away the ale and crisps and ditch the jeans and T-shirt; Oriental women want you. A successful dating agency called Destina Japan has opened an office in the UK in an attempt to pair off unmarried Japanese women with their male counterparts in Britain. But be warned: you'll need a fat wallet.

Destina, founded by Hiroko Ozawa in 1996, already has offices on both coasts of the US, but a company spokesman said they had had "a lot of requests" from female customers for Brits. He said: "Some Japanese women don't like US men. British men are seen as more gentle and caring and the culture is nice.

"American men are rather arrogant, and British men seem to suit many Japanese women." The transcontinental matchmaking service comes in response to slumping marriage rates on both sides of the world. The number of Japanese women aged 30-34 staying single has almost doubled over the past decade, sparking a fertility crisis and a boom in publications for single women. One book, Howl of the Loser Dogs, has sold more than 300,000 copies. "Women these days aren't going to marry just anybody," said its author Junko Sakai. Meanwhile, a study revealed last week that there are 1.65 million single British men in their thirties.

Destina hopes to persuade the marriage-shy in both countries to sign up for expensive matchmaking packages, which start in Japan with a standard plan of up to 10 "introductions" for 380,000 yen, (£1,931) to an exclusive diamond plan, clocking in at a cool 15 million yen (£76,228). "That's for VIP males abroad, such as executives and entrepreneurs," said the spokesman. The company's English website says: "Increasingly, even more attractive Japanese women are registering our service every day" following a spate of media stories.

Media interest in Britain has boosted inquiries to more than 100 a day, according to Destina's CEO, Naokuni Naruse. But while he says the company screens candidates for "personality, way of thinking, career, family background and future dreams," it seems the most important criterion for a successful match is old-fashioned loot. An indication that the company may not be looking for factory workers is its UK address: St James's Square.

"We've had a lot of inquiries from executives and business people," says Mr Naruse, who expects the service to take off, thanks to the good image Japanese women have of British men. "The typical income level is £50,000 to £60,000 at a minimum, and it is mostly over £100,000 to £200,000." Have you entertained less wealthy people? "We had one or two working-class people in the US. But to be honest it makes the matchmaking process difficult. Sometimes our female members don't want to be match-made to a person whose occupation is bad. But if he is nice-looking and has a nice personality, and plans going to school in the future, we will accept these clients."

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