Seen This?

Japan's Rent-A-Friend

Embarrassed about your lack of best man, spouse, or boss? Do what some Japanese do: hire a professional stand-in. The Guardian reports that in Japan, the rent-a-buddy service sector is growing. Over the past eight years, the number of agencies providing parents for engagement parties, mourners at funerals, and, in this economy, phantom bosses has doubled to 10 with Office Agent, the best-known company, employing 1,000 people. The popularity of such services underscores a Japanese cultural aversion to publicizing personal difficulties. The rentable people aren't pricey either. One company charges the modest fee of $161 to show up at a wedding party, and extra if the fake friend is required to speechify or sing karaoke.