Let’s get married? Let’s get married! Recent trends in Japan

It seems to me that there are two trends ongoing at the same time in Japan: Since the March disaster we can find an increase of people, who want to have more meaningful connections, when at the same time looking at the long-term data, more people do not to get married at all.
Based on a recent Nikkei Shimbun article the 2010 census by the Internal Affairs Ministry shows that 46.5% of men aged 30-34 are single. In contrast then in 1950, a mere 8% were unmarried, steadily increasing by 1980 to 20%. Japanese women are not different, when in the 1980’s just 9.1% of women aged 30-34 were unwed, but the figure has risen now to 33.3%. Amazingly all this shift has occurred in just 20 years. According to Nikkei Shimbun demographically, the average of the percentage of unmarried people aged 45-49 and 50-54 is known as the lifetime-unmarried rate. For men in 2010, it was up to 19.4%, compared to women the rate was 9.8%. This high rate does not reflect that people prefer to be alone. It seems that 90% of the single men and women want to marry (survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research), but the challenge seems to be in finding a suitable partner, or then marriage seems to risky due to unstable employment or income.
Since the March 11 disaster more Japanese are ready to take the big step. According to the Asahi Shimbun there is a sharp rise in wedding-related goods and services. In the months of March and April, sales of engagement rings were 40 percent higher than they were for the same period last year; with sales of wedding rings 25 percent higher. Personally I can only hope that everyone takes the selection for the right partner for life serious, because no one should get married simply because they otherwise feel lonely. A single Japanese woman in her 30s told the Asahi Shimbun that she realized she wanted a life partner after she spent six hours walking home to an empty apartment on the night of March 11.
For me it is still surprising to see how much the salary of the potential Japanese husband plays a role in the decision for a partner for live. In May the Cabinet Office released the results of a survey on marriage and income, which showed that only 9 percent of men in their 20s and 30s, who make less than JPY Mio 3 a year are married, while the percentage goes up to 26 percent for men in that age group who make between JPY Mio 3-4. The portion increases then again for men in their 30s (30 percent) or 20s (40 percent!), who make at least JPY Mio 6 a year. Personally I am shocked that according to Japan Times in most surveys of women who are looking to marry, JPY Mio 3 is considered the minimum desired for a potential partner. Since when is a matter of the heart related to the salary of the partner? I guess my approach to partnership is still too foreign: A partnership is build on trust, love and support for each other no matter what.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

One thought on “Let’s get married? Let’s get married! Recent trends in Japan

  1. I must get caught up with your posts before I leave for vacation again. I hope you are surviving the summer heat in Tokyo. Marriage, for me, choosing the right partner is not only that he has his financial health in order but that we have the same goals and aspirations, future goals, etc.

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