Online Dating in Japan

In Japan, usually a society quick to adopt new social technologies, online dating has been tainted nearly from its introduction by allegations of teenage prostitution through the services.

"In a practice euphemistically known as enjo kosai, or 'compensated dating,'the victims offer sexual services in exchange for money or gifts. ... 'Awaiting messages from high school girls short of pocket money,'wrote a male visitor to a dating site."

(Batty and McCurry 2004)

Police claim this practice leads to criminal assaults, mostly against teenage girls. According to Japanese police, nearly 800 crimes in the first half of 2002 were related to online dating (Sydney Morning Herald 2002). Teenagers' access to online dating services is made easier by the proliferation of Internet-capable mobile phones.

On the other hand, the Lovegety, a small, inexpensive wireless device that alerted its owner when another romantically compatible Lovegety owner was nearby, was briefly quite popular in Japan and made news around the world as the first device of its kind (Iwatani 1998). The Lovegety never developed a sufficiently dense user base to make Lovegety encounters common, however.

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