Hello! Thank you for reading my article!
Many of you will be aware that the birthrate is falling and the population is aging in Japan. The number of elderly people is increasing and the number of young people to support them is decreasing, which means that the burden on young people in the future will also increase. In Japan, it is still rare to have children without getting married, and one of the reasons for the declining birth rate is that fewer and fewer Japanese are getting married. I, as a Japanese, would like to think about the reasons why fewer Japanese are getting married.
1. Couple’s culture is not seen as important
One of the things that surprised me when I moved to the UK from Japan in 2019 was the couple’s culture. I attended my husband's company's Christmas party as a plus one. At the venue, employees enjoyed welcome drinks and appetizer finger foods with their sweethearts or spouses, and seats were assigned at the table so that the two could sit next to each other. This is a sight rarely seen in Japan. In Japan, many companies have a year-end party, but you don't take your girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse to this party.
It is also socially unacceptable to flirt with your girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse. It's private and people will look at you funny if you go out of your way to show them. You don’t see many couples or things specifically for couples, and whilst of course some people think "I envy couples" or "I am so disappointed that I don't have a girlfriend", but I think it is rare. Also, in Japan, parent-child relationships and work are sometimes more important than the relationship between a couple.
2. They can enjoy living alone
It's a bit similar to the first point, but in Japan couples don't often do things together or in a group. There are plenty of things to do in Japan that you can enjoy on your own. Restaurants, hotels, and ryokan (Japanese inns) offer many 'hitorisama plans (good offers for one person)'. Various food manufacturers produce seasonings and ingredients for one person. Living on one's own is all too natural.
Although rents in Tokyo and other cities are high, I feel they are not as high as in London or New York. Many Japanese people don't interfere too much with others, or conversely, don't want others to interfere with them, so I think many people would rather live alone than share a room. Therefore, I think there are less and less options to have a girlfriend/boyfriend and live together even if you need to in order to be able to pay rent.
3. Work environment and financial concerns
Japan is famous for its long working hours. Some people work long hours and don't get paid enough for it, and others find it difficult to take holidays at work because of their “diligent” nature. Also because they are so busy, they have less time to devote to their personal lives.
For the younger generation, there is also the financial uncertainty of the future. It's getting increasingly difficult to have and raise children in Japan, and it's understandable that more and more people would rather not get married and live on their own instead of taking that risk.
That's all. In your country, is marriage still part of the traditional culture? Or is marriage no longer as commonplace as it used to be? I hope that this article will help you to find out a little more about Japan!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Yuzu
Claudia Smaletz from East Coast on June 13, 2021:
Interesting article, I did not know this. I became interested in Japan because of their printmaking history.