These arranged encounters are the modern version of the miai. They date back to the 17th century and were reserved for the nobility and families of military lineage. The aim was to seal alliances in the interests of the families, in order to gain economic and political advantages. This custom is, after all, universal, particularly in the upper echelons of society, where marital unions are an issue on which the stature of the families concerned depends. It is perhaps less so in contemporary times, where love marriages have gained ground in so-called 'modern' countries. In Japan, arranged marriages have also been growing among the working classes since the nineteenth century, accounting for seventy per cent of marriages at the beginning of the previous century. Nowadays, miai (which literally means "to look at each other") are at the origin of less than one in ten weddings, but they are just as codified as they used to be. First of all, a booklet containing a photo and a brief introduction is drawn up. An intermediary, paid or unpaid, searches his or her entourage for a suitable candidate. If there is no such person, the booklet is produced with their agreement and offered to the requesting family. If both parties are interested, a meeting is arranged. The parents may be present, but not necessarily. If the potential couple find that they are a good match, they begin dating, wondering whether their compatibility can be pursued through an official union. This is how a relationship can begin, with marriage as its ultimate goal. There is even an expression dedicated to this and used when two lovers, even if they know each other in ways other than miai, wish to start a lasting relationship. Marriage is a real concern for the Japanese, for whom it is an inescapable institution for every individual. Women must marry before they are twenty-five, men before they are thirty, otherwise they could suffer a reputation for being irresponsible. This mentality is still so entrenched today that there is a neologism, kon-katsu, literally "activity to get married".