Life is short. Have an affair.
So says the slogan Ashley Madison, the infamous social media for adultery, which has 1.8 million unique users.
It started in Canada in 2001 and now has finally come to Japan.
It works by users purchasing credits, which they can use to send mails to potential partners, so in some ways on the surface is not dissimilar to regular dating sites. But this is totally up-front that the people using the site are cheating on their real partners.
Women can join for free (yay!) and there is a translation tool if you’re interested in looking for a foreign “friend”.
Japanese men in particular really like adultery and their wives are, arguably, more accepting and willing to forgive than perhaps western counterparts.
We might go so far as to say that adultery is more common in Japan — but from visits to fuzoku brothels to relieve the stress of a sex-less marriage (perhaps as many as 50% of marriages!), and also genuine affairs, such as with hostesses or younger women from the office.
Remember, Japan is the place where Fujitsu developed an “infidelity phone” — a handset which can hide missed calls and text messages from numbers designated as “private”. All in the name of security, the makers insist, but it is the ideal phone for discreet adulterers.
Though it already exists in 27 countries, Japan is the first Asian venture for AM, so it’s a bit of an experiment. We’re not sure if this kind of streamlined, slick SNS is what men or women want here when they are going to have an affair, but the first four days netted Ashley Madison 75,000 local members (joining 19 million around the world — anonymous, natch) and 230,000 visits.
People frequently use so-called “encounter” (deai-kei) sites here, but their reputation has increasingly suffered in recent years due to high-profile cases of fraud and arrests. Ashley Madison might be slick but at least it won’t rip you off.
AM has targeted 100,000 members in the first month, and 1.2 million in the first year.
“This might be bigger here than in America,” says Noel Biderman, the CEO of the company behind Ashley Madison. “We totally underestimated the desire here.”