|By MICHIRU YOSHINO|
Special to The Japan Times
Chased by a busy schedule 24 hours a day, months and years pass until you suddenly notice that your encounters with the opposite sex are limited and you seldom have a chance of meeting a soul mate, let alone a spouse. Hiroko Ozawa, president of Destina Japan, noticed that many of her peers felt that way when she was studying in Manhattan.
Finding a business opportunity in such a condition, she established her company in 1996 in New York. What she specifically did was introduce Japanese women to American men on the premise of marriage.
"Not just any American guy, but those with a high level of education, good earning, and a fine personality, of course," points out Nick Naruse, chairman and CEO of Destina Japan.
The business prospered, and branch offices were soon set up in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, London and Tokyo. In Japan, another branch will be established in Osaka this April.
"Japanese women are very popular among the British and Americans for their exotic features, high education level, as well as for being reserved and humble. They also tend to have a well-balanced personality as a result of being brought up properly," says Naruse.
Destina's matchmaking service is unique and modern, and also humane.
In contrast to the numerous modern matchmaking companies that request the registering person to input his or her personal information via a PC, Destina first interviews and counsels each person for almost two hours to find out the true personality and qualities of that person.
"This is because if a person is sitting in front of a PC, he or she could get quite creative and may type in information that isn't always true. If the base information is incorrect, the procedure that follows wouldn't work, no matter how good the end system is," notes Naruse.
Furthermore, at Destina, the staff monitors the progress of each couple and offers advice, not only upon introduction, but also as they start building their relationship.
Such meticulous tracking has paid off in the form of Destina receiving no complaints from its registered members to date.
But is this modern matchmaking business really worthwhile?
Destina thinks so.
Bringing out the questionnaire survey results conducted on 1,000 unmarried men and women from late January to February this year, Naruse points out that as many as 44.6 percent of those interviewed would value the marriage with an ideal partner at 100 million yen or more.
What is more, 17.1 percent of the total valued such a marriage at over 10 billion yen.
"As long as there are so many people who value a good marriage highly, there is a need for our business," he says.
With its business expansion, Destina's registered members have come to include those in Britain, France, Germany and other European countries, as well as Hong Kong, China and Singapore, in addition to many in the United States and Japan.
All are generally internationally minded for having worked, lived or studied abroad. Another notable feature of Destina's members is that many are high-income earners who hold such important positions as executives, lawyers, doctors and international businessmen.
"Our business won't stop here, and we intend to expand our services into the bridal-related service area," Naruse said. "We also plan to open quite a few branches in the U.S., including one soon in Hawaii, followed by another in Chicago and Boston."
"We also have plans to set up a new branch in Sydney, Australia, too. But since our service is really custom-made to respond to the diverse needs and demands of each person, the acquisition of high-quality staff becomes crucial for our operations," Naruse said.
The Japan Times: March 7, 2005