Japanese celebrity’s girlfriend-in-space competition receives backlash

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Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, 44, sparked backlash from women in Japan and around the world on Thursday, after he received 20,000 applications for the opportunity to travel to space as his girlfriend.

Maezawa will be the first private passenger on Elon Musk’s SpaceX and has launched a search for a partner to accompany him on the journey.

On his website, Maezawa lists his criteria for applicants: single women over 20 years old, a “bright personality,” interested in going to space, enjoy life to the fullest, and must be someone who wishes for world peace.

Al Arabiya English asked Kana Yamamoto, a woman from Japan, if she planned on applying. She said “Do I have to be his girlfriend? In that case, no. Or just a female friend partner and he pays everything? Then I'm in.”

The application process is set to close on January 17 with “matchmaking dates” set to begin mid-February. To find his perfect partner Maezawa launched a “love diagnostic test” according to his website. However, the questions included in Maezawa’s application process have provoked a mixed response.

One question asked “If Maezawa farted in front of you what would you say?”

Yamamoto said her response to the question would be to “find the best onomatopoeia for his sounds.”

One Twitter user reacted saying, “In the name of the One who, through engineering & sorcery, allows this moonshot love story to happen, I bless you, brother Yusaku. I'll pray that the Simulator guides your perfect match to you and you to her. Thank you restoring His faith in humanity.”

The competition also sparked negative feedback about the nature of relationships in the modern day.

“This is dumb and sad. If you want to find love, attempting to purchase it with a trip to the moon is definitely not the way to go. If you want a qualified female astronaut, I suspect none will be interested in being an escort on a trip like this,” wrote one user on Twitter.

Another woman in Japan, Tamara Ishida, told Al Arabiya English she didn’t intend on applying either.

“I did read an article about it but I don’t think I’ll be applying. I’m a bit scared of the prospect of going to space and I don’t like the idea of being in the public eye,” Ishida said.

While no one Al Arabiya English spoke to intends to court Maezawa, thousands have applied so far.

On his website, Maezawa wrote “I'm sure I've been able to acquire my share of money, social status, and fame along the way. But now I'm restarting my life. I'm 44 now. As feelings of loneliness and emptiness slowly begin to surge upon me, there's one thing that I think about: Continuing to love one woman.”

While going to space or finding love may not be in the cards for those Al Arabiya English spoke to, Ishida remains hopeful about love.

“I believe that you can love someone truly, but I don’t believe it’s written in the stars or anything,” said Ishida.

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