In a 2ch thread reacting to news of a high-end speed-dating bar catering to older “marriage hunting” women and men (this year’s manufactured social phenomenon), commenters have excoriated a 39-year-old single female flight attendant (an apparent lookalike of former Takarazuka Revue actress Yuki Amami) for her quote, “I am no longer in a position to be choosy. My conditions are that [my future husband] does not smoke, can communicate, and makes at least 10 million yen per year.”
Such high standards reminded me of a recent episode of NPR’s This American Life, in which the hosts discussed just how limited dating options can be once you start getting choosy. I suggest you give it a listen, but suffice to say the prospects for Boston-area chemistry grad students were whittled down to the dozens, if I recall correctly.
So what about this woman’s scenario? Does she stand a chance? Let’s try whittling down the population of Tokyo until we find out how many men would pass muster:
- Population of Tokyo: 12.79 million people (also see Stat Bureau)
- Number male: 6.354 million (49.6%)
- In Amami’s age bracket (25-49): 2.536 million (more generous than 2ch would allow for – see below)
- College grads: 1,038,492 (assuming college grads are more likely to have communication skills than non-grads. The number was reached by estimating from the facts that 45.5% of high school students moved on to four-year universities in 2006, of which around 90% eventually get their degree (OECD Fact Sheet PDF))
- Salary of at least 10 million yen: 103,849 (10%: Though 7.5% of men in the private sector earned at least 10 million yen per year as of 2006 nationwide, I will be generous and say 10% given the age and education group’s above-average earnings and the probably higher wages of the Tokyo area) (PDF page 18)
- Single: 51,924 (about half?)
- Non-smokers: 31,414 (39.5% of Japanese men smoke)
- Attractive to her: 6,282 (1 in 5? This assumes that even if she can’t be choosy, she will still remain superficial enough to avoid lazy eyes, missing teeth, limps, moth ball smell, etc.).
Then what if you divide by between 3 and 5 for other possible dealbreakers, such as religion, politics, sense of humor, blood type, and all that? Not exactly raining men! And this exercise doesn’t even address the issue of her age, which was the biggest bone of contention among the 2-channel posters (specifically, many found the entire premise farcical – a woman entering middle age is delusional enough to think well-off men would consider her marriage material, to the point that 10 million a year becomes the bare minimum, and she thinks they will show up at a speed-dating bar in Roppongi).
While this is a rough guess and the general bias toward richer and more educated people in Tokyo would no doubt push the number somewhat higher (and she is lucky to be in Tokyo and not comparatively tiny Boston), it is still kind of sobering to see how closely this woman’s search for love (or at least stability) in Tokyo resembles the quest to find the missing Dragonballs.