MONEY can’t buy me love, those great philosophers, The Beatles, once said — but Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa begs to differ.

Maezawa, a 44-year-old fashion mogul, will be the first private passenger on Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has already fired up huge social media buzz with a US $9 million giveaway to his followers that secured his position as Japan’s foremost Twitter celebrity.

Streaming service AbemaTV said his search for a “life partner” to join him on his moon voyage had already generated more than 20,000 applications.

The show’s application site now includes a “love diagnostic test” where potential entrants can test their compatibility with the entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business, Zozo Inc, to SoftBank Group Corp last year.

Multiple-choice questions include “If you rode in a private jet where would you go?” and “If Maezawa farted in front of you what would you say?”, with users presented with a photo of the billionaire varying from happy to sad depending on their score.

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AbemaTV, backed by online ad agency CyberAgent and broadcaster TV Asahi, is one of Japan’s foremost proponents of the reality dating show.

Securing Maezawa for “Full Moon Lovers” is a coup for the service, which aims to generate social media traffic and is targeting younger viewers who are turning off TV.

Current and upcoming AbemaTV shows include one in which Japanese-speaking female contestants are paired with foreign men who don’t speak their language and another in which women go on dates with “princes” several years their junior.

Japanese broadcasters have been slow to offer streaming even as ad spending shifts online, worried about upsetting their regional TV networks by offering nationwide streaming services.

Public broadcaster NHK, which had been legally constrained from offering such services, will begin streaming in April following rule changes last year.

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The reality dating format got a boost in Japan with the success of hit show Terrace House, which was developed by broadcaster Fuji Holdings before being picked up by Netflix, building an international fan base through its relaxed tone and mild-mannered contestants.

Those who want to join him in space must meet these application conditions:

They must be single women aged 20 or over, have a bright personality and always be positive, must be interested in going into space and able to participate in the preparation for it, want to enjoy life to the fullest and, wait for it . . . be someone who wishes for world peace.

The final decision will be made towards the end of March.

So, by our calculations, each of the 20,000-plus applicants might be able to see their potential life partner in an interview lasting maybe 10 seconds?

Good luck, ladies. 


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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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