Japan’s ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare have released their 2006 report on marriage statistics in Japan. While the headlines are reporting that now 25% of marriages are 2nd marriages (or 2nd and thereafter), I saw some more interesting highlights:
- The number of marriages continues to fall, from 720,000 in 2004 to around 714,000 in 2005. This is down from a peak of 941,000 in 1975.
- Divorces were down to 260,000 from a peak in 2002.
- The average marriage age continues to rise (Men: 31, Women: 29)
- The ratio of international marriages to total marriages jumped once again from 5% in 2004 to 6% in 2005.
- Japanese men and women who marry outside their nationality continue to marry a distinctly different set of foreigners. In 1995, most internationally marrying Japanese men (35%) took Filipina brides, while a quarter of them married Chinese women. In 2005, the tables were turned, with only 30% marrying Filipinas and 35% marrying Chinese.
- As for the international women, 18% of them (the 2nd largest group) marry American men, a statistic that has remained stable since 1995. However, the largest group in 1995 at 41% (Koreans, including Japanese-born “zainichi”) shrunk to 24% and was supplanted by 2005 by “Other countries” at 32.7%. What to make of this striking diversification? Perhaps there is a larger group of women marrying both Commonwealth-born native English speakers (other than the UK which makes the list at 4%) as well as the many African/Iranian/Turkish/Indian etc immigrants who are making their way to Japan. Or perhaps it is simply an indication of the “diaspora” of Japanese women that the Western media has reported. No explanation is given in the report, unfortunately, nor was there a breakdown of what these mysterious “other countries” might be (other countries that made the list were China, Peru, Brazil, the Philippines, and Thailand).
- Also, the ratio of Japanese men marrying foreign women:Japanese women marrying foreign men has increased from about 3:1 in 1995 to 4:1 in 2005, evidence that may speak of an even more noticeable “diaspora” effect among men. Nevertheless, the growing number of international marriages could indeed be caused by the palpable divide between the sexes.
- Marriages tend to peak during months in which members of the imperial family get married, as well as in months that share the same number as the year (example: Feb 2002 =2/02). Cute.
I was looking for a statistic comparable to the famous “2/3 of all US marriages end in divorce,” but I couldn’t find anything like that. Ah well, chew on that for a while!
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11 thoughts on “Ministry of Health releases marriage stats”
I thought I remembered seeing an online charting tool that we could use in situations like this. These numbers would pop out with a graph or two.
Is the falling number of marriages a product of the aging society, or something else?
The explanation i hear the most is the rising age of first marriages. The young population is shrinking as well, but I don’t think the shrinkage is significant enough to put as much of a damper on the absolute number of marriages.
The drop in divorces is misleaing: plenty of unhappy women were waiting for this year, when housewives who divorce will be eligible to receive a portion of their working husband’s pension.
Do you really think there’s going to be a sudden spike in divorce numbers or do you think it’s more likely that we’ll see a gradual increase over time with the pension split being but one of many factors?
Sudden spike and gradual increase. Lots of divorces that should have happened in 2005 and 2006 will occur in 2007 because of the change in the law, and as more and more women realize they have the financial and economic freedom to lose their husband, they will.
I think Curzon’s right here. Plenty of women have supposedly been holding off for this new law to take effect. We’ll probably see lines at city offices once the law takes effect…though I wonder how fault works into this whole game and whether this might be a boon for the private detective business…
“Perhaps there is a larger group of women marrying both Commonwealth-born native English speakers (other than the UK which makes the list at 4%).”
I’m Canadian and I married a Japanese woman in 2005. Funny to see a Japan statistic that I am a part of….
As for the coming “jukunen rikon” boom – there was a significant feature on it in Bungei Shunju a few months ago that supports Curzon’s interpretation.
Of course, “divorce” is a formalistic device anyway. Many Japanese couples separate but never bother to divorce, and separations are not recorded so there’s no way to count them.
Conversely, how many Japanese couples “live together in sin”? Is that recorded?
Here is a very good reason for couples to divorce instead of just separate.
Separation ends less than half of spouse abuse: poll
I imagine its a lot harder to get police protection from a guy you are still married to, even if in name only.
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