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Japanese women, not men, buy the Valentine’s Day sweets

    In this Feb. 14, 2012 file photo, women look at heart-shaped boxes containing Valentine's Day chocolates on sale at a store in Tokyo.

TOKYO » Perusing the Valentine’s Day chocolate selection during my lunch break made me stand out in the crowd in Tokyo: I was the only male in the Godiva store.

In Japan, women buy chocolates for men on Valentine’s Day, not vice versa. And not just for their boyfriend or partner, but also for co-workers, friends of both sexes and even themselves these days. It’s a big business: the Godiva store had shelves of specially boxed assortments rising to its high ceiling, while competing chocolate makers went head-to-head at temporary counters set up at a commuter rail station.

Two female co-workers brightened our office Friday by handing out chocolates to everyone else: a handful of Hershey kisses from one, a minibag of M&Ms from the other.

Women get their just "desserts" one month later. Marketers have created "White Day" on March 14, when men are supposed to reciprocate with gifts for women.

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