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8 years into 'konkatsu' boom, lifelong single population continues to grow

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Now here’s an anomaly: eight years into a “marriage activity” boom, marriage itself, minus the “activity,” is so torpid that within 20 years, Shukan Toyo Keizai (May 14) fears, one man in three will, like it or not, end up single for life.

“Marriage activity” is a severely literal translation that fails to capture the trendy ring of “konkatsu.” Most young adults want to marry, as poll after poll shows. Their parents want them to marry – they want grandchildren. The government wants them to marry – it wants children as a buttress against population decline and economic stagnation. Thus "konkatsu." This includes match-making parties, match-making sightseeing trips, match-making websites – an abundance of them. Some of these “activities” are organized by private companies, others by local governments. You’d think after eight years – the “boom” dates back to 2008 – there’d be a spike in marriages, with a corresponding rise in the sluggish birth rate. It’s not happening, Toyo Keizai reports.

The magazine enlists two experts to discuss why. Sagami Women’s University professor Toko Shirakawa, who advises the government on demographic issues, says marriage flounders because it has failed to keep up with changing times. Getting married used to be easy, she explains. Competing lifestyles had no status, and everybody in your life, it seems – your parents, your community, your employer, helped pave the way. The word “gokon” was unknown, but the activity it describes went on – feverishly – beneath society’s surface, not a “boom” because it was simply taken for granted.

Parents and relatives arranged traditional match-making parties known as “miai.” Bosses pushed and prodded – the “company marriage” became second nature. “There was nothing like this anywhere else in the developed world,” says Shirakawa – and well into the 1990s, “97% of Japanese got married.”

The economic collapse of that decade is one of two key changes. The other is the Internet revolution.

A result of the latter, says Shirakawa, is the development of the sort of mentality that places an order and demands satisfaction: “When your fridge breaks down, you go to an auction site and find a fridge that suits your price range and the dimensions of your kitchen.” A marriage site can be much the same. You input your specifications, “and maybe you get 1,000 hits – but you can’t check them all!” It tends to be overwhelming rather than encouraging.

Takanori Fujita, founder of the anti-poverty NPO Hot Plus, makes the chilling observation that, economic realities being what they are, “marriage and having children have become luxury indulgences.” Average young adults can’t afford them – or at least feel they can’t. “Those who do marry,” Fujita says, “are people who, in economic terms, are still living in the old Japan – public servants and full-time employees of big corporations.” But the public service can only absorb so many, and as for full-time employment, some 40% of the work force in the “new Japan” must now settle for generally underpaid part-time status.

The key, says Fujita, is policies that raise people’s disposable income. “In France,” he says, “there’s an abundance of public housing; a young couple can rent an apartment for the equivalent of 10,000 yen a month. In Japan, public housing constitutes only 5% of the housing stock. A young person earning 150,000 yen a month can end up paying half that on rent.” The alternative is to live with parents, as some 80 % of low-income people do, at the risk, in worst cases, of slipping into a sort of eternal childhood.

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The alternative is to live with parents, as some 80 % of low-income people do, at the risk, in worst cases, of slipping into a sort of eternal childhood.

Eternal childhood? There is plenty of blame to pass around for this one, and it starts at home. If parents would be teaching their off-spring how to be independent rather than dependent odds are this would not happen.

I know plenty of young adults down here that are busting their arses off to get out of the house, not because they dont care about their parents, rather it's the opposite, they feel they owe it to their parents to be independent. Sadly they are few and far between.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Marriage activity minus a decent wage =Non active Mariage. Double the minimum wage Greenberg

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The economic reason is the main one. When they compare the expectations of women at these konkatsu events with respect to salary of their potential partners with what the people who are available as potential partners make it excludes the majority of them.

This is not just unrealistic expectations on their part though, they generally want soneone who just makes enough to support a family, which is reasonable. The fact that the economy produces so few jobs that pay that much is what is unreasonable.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

“In France,” he says, ....

There are 196 recognized countries in the world. If you cherry pick your data you can almost certainly find one where the grass is greener than in Japan. A quick Google search produces results that make it clear that French social housing is not the utopia this quote suggests.

http://www.citymetric.com/politics/france-housing-policies-are-creating-vast-numbers-empty-cities-799

Further, French social housing is often remote from jobs and some projects are essentially immigrant ghettos. French social housing has been cited as a contributory factor in the 2005 riots in France.

http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/finding-housing-policy-solutions-shared-challenges-across-atlantic

Doesn't look like a good model for Japan.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

There is plenty of blame to pass around for this one, and it starts at home. If parents would be teaching their off-spring how to be independent rather than dependent odds are this would not happen.

Agree, and it's not only youngsters. Some of the bubble era babes are living in la-la land, thinking that they have all the time in the world. They talk dreamily of the the day they meet someone, get married, and start a family, and I'm thinking "girl, you're nearly 50 and still living with your parents, you'll be arranging their funerals before your own wedding."

10 ( +13 / -3 )

"Doesn't look like a good model for Japan."

You should tell that to Mr. Fujita, the Japanese man quoted in the above article who speaks positively about the French model.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Living at home with parents seems, at least according to this article, a matter pf economic necessity and not prolonging childhood.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

When the match matching activities are going through such formal sessions like konkatsu, expectations from the female side go higher that could hardly meet the real status of male participants. The unofficial demand of the marriage seeking Japanese ladies are 7million yen almost double than national average. They don't even like the concept of husband coming home from work early(before 9pm) which they react like "Iya da" means "no way!". There might be some exceptions but majority are like the above, proving the growing number of forever alones.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Since about half the population is female, can we also assume that roughly 1 in 3 women will also remain unmarried? I can't see white men marrying most of those unmarried women.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Maybe the women want and demand more from a potential partner than they can give in return themselves. Perhaps they should take a good look at themselves in the mirror. Perhaps they shouldnt assess the virtues of a potential partner by income, education or status alone. All those things women put on their potential partner shopping list as boxes to be checked off.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

You should tell that to Mr. Fujita, the Japanese man quoted in the above article who speaks positively about the French model.

I will if the opportunity arises. I would be most surprised if he has any knowledge of French social housing other than what he claims is the monthly rent. It is a long standing pattern in advocacy writing in Japan to pull foreign examples out of context to bolster your point. This pattern goes back to at least the mid-18th century, probably earlier. I have examples of Japanese media praising British social programs that subsequently turned out to be ineffective and scandal ridden.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

One of the big problems is the Pretty Princess Syndrome that many of the women have here. Well into their late 30s they sit and dream of their wedding day. They will look like a Disney princess and all their friends will envy them. Day after day they sit and blab about this.

I have owned my business here for about 15 years. A few of the office gals were about 20 when they started and now about 35 they sit in their little circle to this day out doing each other talking about their Pretty Princess Day. They have the requirements that their husband will earn 7 to 10 Million Yen per year. They will shop at all the boutiques and vacation in the Mediterranean or Guam. Their kids will have a nanny.

They blab on and on and yet after 15 years they are no closer to their wedding day than they were before. Why? The focus is one day, not the marriage. They really think they have the only thing to offer a man - a uterus. Forget the fact they have zero personality. They at 35 already look well into their 40s. They live at home and have no experience of the world outside of Miyazaki. All the single men at work have and do avoid these gals to this day. In fact the joke among my managers is that a punishment will be to marry one of them if an underling messes up bad enough.

Take these gals and multiply them and there is the biggest problem. Many women here have huge expectations and zero to offer in return. Many of the men that go these match making shindigs come away with just that. These babes think they are princesses and in reality aren't even the stable girl. It's all about them and zero thought in reality what a MARRIAGE is.

25 ( +26 / -1 )

There are a lot factors to consider. A few being work life balance, society pressures on men and women, and an education system that is very stressful.

People in Japan work between 12-16 hours a day. There aren't very good labor laws here and employers take advantage of that. Managers will often ask staff to work overtime, this is a daily occurrence and employees can't simply opt out. They can get fired for it. Life for employees is unbalanced and unpredictable. Not good for dating or having a family.

If women could stay at there jobs after they have children, the pressure would lessened for men. However, that isn't always the case. For most want-to-be-mothers, it is important to find a man with a stable income, because once a women becomes pregnant, she pressured by society, family and her company to quit her job. Day cares are hard to find and even harder to get into. A lot of married women become housewives and that isn't what all women want.

Lastly, the education system in Japan is very hard. It is also very costly, cram schools, club activities, and University are almost all paid for by the the parents. University might be both student and parent paying. Students are tested in a daily basis, for Japanese children life is not easy. All of the testing and studying is to prepare them for the big college entrance test at the end. It determines their whole future. A Japanese education is very comprehensive and the standards are very high, even in the public schools. Students are expected to be excellent in all areas. My students only get one day off a week and most of the time they study or do homework. They also have hours of club activities and cram school. Some of my students spend a lot of time with their families, others don't know them all that well. It really depends on the family. Educating a child is expensive and the cost and stress may keep people from having children.

When thinking about the pressure on everyone to be the perfect all the time, it's no wonder people are simply staying home and adopting pets instead. So long as things stay the same, that's how life is going to be.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

KabukiloverMAY. 15, 2016 - 10:11AM JST Living at home with parents seems, at least according to this article, a matter pf economic necessity and not prolonging childhood.

Absolutely true, but that's not compatible with a narrative that lets us feel superior by just declaring people who don't do what we think they should do to be morally inferior. So let's ignore it.

Back to the article...

A result of the latter, says Shirakawa, is the development of the sort of mentality that places an order and demands satisfaction: “When your fridge breaks down, you go to an auction site and find a fridge that suits your price range and the dimensions of your kitchen.” A marriage site can be much the same. You input your specifications, “and maybe you get 1,000 hits – but you can’t check them all!” It tends to be overwhelming rather than encouraging.

This sounds suspiciously like blaming unmarried people for having too many options. This implies the best way to make them get what they want is to take away some of their options, a conclusion far too chilling to let stand if the hypothesis has no supporting evidence.

I'm sure loads of people who have never once read a psychology journal in their lives can find a TED Talk or a psycho-pop article in some newspaper or magazine that says decisions are harder when people have more choices, but before we declare a reductionist solution to a problem as complex as how humans in a society choose to pair bond we probably should at least test the hypothesis with something more substantial that the opinion of some random professor at some random university*.

*Upon further research, it appears that miss Shirakawa is more of a journalist than a researcher. She's a visiting lecturer of some kind but I can't find evidence of any study on her part.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

We have an expression in the UK " all work and no play makes jack a very dull boy" i think that says it all really. you have got to strike work and pleasure balance to much of one the other one won't work and visa versa.

9 ( +9 / -1 )

Blair, My partner is (Japanese) and we were talking about marriage, She ask me if we were to marry how long would it be before we start a family ? I replied when you are ready and you will be the one working not me. I have retired now. She told me about Parents that want grandchildren as soon has their son or daughter marry. I told her it not their decision when we have a family it your not mine or my parents or you Parents, It your decision. Plus I told her that grandparents are not to buy present for our children. They can invest money into their education. I will have a fund set up for them. She ask why. I told her favouritism is why. I don,t want them out doing each other to win the child attention. I can see why Japanese young people won,t marry

-4 ( +5 / -8 )

I told her it not their decision when we have a family it your not mine or my parents or you Parents, It your decision.

That's the western way of thinking. The Eastern way of thinking is that a marriage is a joining of two families, and the parents do have a say in that.

Plus I told her that grandparents are not to buy present for our children.

That's not fair to the grandparents (who will want to buy presents for their grandchild like any normal grandparent), your child (who will miss out on one of the pleasures of life - getting treated well by their grandparents), and your wife (who is stuck between parents who want to act like normal grandparents, and a husband who is being unreasonable).

4 ( +6 / -3 )

I think she makes good points, but there are other factors as well. Many Japanese still follow the custom where when the oldest son gets married, it is a kind of obligation where the new daughter in law must move in with him and his parents. Plenty of TV dramas about this. So that mother in law then punishes the new daughter in law, because she went through the same exact thing. Who wants that life. Some Japanese men dont want another mother (as that is what a Japanese wife can become) controlling their finances etc. Women like their money and dont want the nuclear family. I think its a social change, pushing back against the traditions.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Any number of reasons but here is one.

Just got back from a family event in Japan. 2 of wife's unmarried 40-something cousins were there. Well educated, from wealthy family with good jobs, however neither particularly attractive. I'm guessing their expectations of what a potential marriage partner should be were unrealistic.

Face it, a late 20s, early 30s Japanese male with a good job, reasonably good looking and not too bad a personality can basically take his pick. These girls needed to marry down or not at all, they took the not at all option.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Strangerland is right. The kekkon shiki in Japan is more of a ritual, not like the West where there lots of religion and joy intertwined into the ceremony. In Japan, there will be a fake church, with a fake minister, usually some eikawa teacher doing a side hustle. The two families are like a show of force or showing their flag, who pays the most and are the most flamboyant. Lots of speeches and course menus and money to be handed out. I find them to be very excruciating to sit through, like any Japanese event. Its almost like its a shigoto, and everybody has to gambaru. Sometimes trying to understand Japanese can be very difficult.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Its almost like its a shigoto, and everybody has to gambaru.

This might explain the demand for so-called 'solo weddings,' in which the bride marries ... herself. Yes, it's a thing.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-30574801

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Why not. If he can marry a cartoon character she should be able to marry herself

I dread being invited to any Japanese event kekkon soshiki any kind of "kai" Its an exercise in misery

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One of the big problems is the Pretty Princess Syndrome that many of the women have here. Well into their late 30s they sit and dream of their wedding day. They will look like a Disney princess and all their friends will envy them. Day after day they sit and blab about this.

I have many friends like this! Many women in their 20s still hang around in their circle, go on vacations and working holidays in hopes to meet gaijin, and have high expectations! They don't have the motivation to find a great job because they know they will probably become housewives, but the salaryman's income doesn't compare to what it used to be. Raising a family takes two incomes, but not only do women now have much motivation, careers and jobs are very limited. Big companies don't want to hire women with the expectation that they will leave soon to have babies. Anyway, that's a whole different problem. I was just so surprised that many of my friends cosplay at Disneyland, take purikura, go to Guam and Hawaii, etc. all in their little "circle". Even when they find a guy and go on dates, the circle will talk "yabai!" "dame dame!" Even if I tell them to give the guy a chance, t's so frustrating to hear them talk about guys like "he's from XX college. He's in XX company"

6 ( +8 / -2 )

“there’s an abundance of public housing; a young couple can rent an apartment for the equivalent of 10,000 yen a month

I don't think "public housing" in Japan is that cheap. Maybe 100,000 Yen a month or less.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@kyushubill

The focus is one day, not the marriage. They really think they have the only thing to offer a man - a uterus. Forget the fact they have zero personality. They at 35 already look well into their 40s. They live at home and have no experience of the world outside of Miyazaki.

Wow. This really hit home, as my ex-fiance was just like this. Wanting to get married for the sake of getting married, and not wanting to work once the day had passed. Sengyoshufu for life - even with a college degree. This is a lifelong aspiration for many women here, which is a serious worry.

But that aside, the real problem is work-life balance - as many others have mentioned. When your only social circle week in, week out consists of workmates, what hope is there? It's just such a waste, really. All work & no play. For what?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Public housing in Japan isn't that costly to be an excuse for not marrying. ”Danchi” in Japan can be found in fairly reasonable prices. Having unrealistic expectation is the problem to blame.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Strangerland ; You know nothing and assume a lot. I am 56 and my partner is 27. Her parent are younger then me. So being the oldest and having been successful with my first family my decisions are respected. I had already have a family,a western family and my daughter demands the same that I and the other grandparents abstain from present given. I said nothing of giving of treats like picking them up from school and having quality time with them. Like taking them to the movies or having a fun weekend with them. If her Parents want to celebrate their birthdays or Christmas they can give to their education fund. Her Japanese Parent are prepared to give the oldest son the Japanese tradition that come with the eldest son and that their right. But in doing so they have for gone any control over their daughter lineage or of our family. If they for gone the tradion of the eldest son to the eldest then I might respect their request more highly. But I don,t and they know where they stand with me and that with no control our family. I suggest you do the same if your partner is Japanese or the marriage will hard to maintain with your western thinking and their,s eastern ways

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This includes match-making parties, match-making sightseeing trips

Really? A real guy should go out & try to encounter a woman of his type openly / freely. The japanese are friiggn' lagging behind the modern world on this issue.

The government wants them to marry – it wants children as a buttress against population decline and economic stagnation.

The gov should stop making so expensive for japanese to have kids.

lifelong single population continues to grow

Heh. So will SDF recruitment. The future workforce. What say you now SEALD's? Anti-USA bases. Anti-Trumpers?

-8 ( +2 / -9 )

Many women here have huge expectations and zero to offer in return.

They are realistic, they have zero expectations in a marriage (unless the guy is significantly richer). So zero to return is totally fair.

Maybe the women want and demand more from a potential partner than they can give in return themselves.

That would be 100% the 'fault' of the women. The men are so great ? The men offer them what ? Money, OK, but only for the 20% that have some, so these are taken. The others ? You can't say they'll be a pleasant company. Not even an unpleasant one. Being back at midnight and leaving at 6, sleeping in front of a TV all day on weekend (telling the wife to go out shopping so he doesn't need to talk to her). They'll bring them a weekly bucket of dirty laundry, empty plates and bentos to refill. In other countries, couples spend time together, they have meals together, they share household/family tasks, they share hobbies and holidays. In Japan, work and social life out of the house take all the time. Both gender tend to have all leisures separately. What's the point of a marriage ?

If women could stay at there jobs after they have children, the pressure would lessened for men.

All the contrary. That's the system of most women staying idle at home in the 60's to 80's that have destroyed balanced family life and couples in Japan. Men have taken the habit of working more (as a sole income and because money was everything in those years), taken the habit of being less involved (as she had exclusivity on her house and her kids). They have created to different cultures separated by gender (Mrs at the ikebana,shopping, eikaiwa , Mr at the izakaya, golf, snack), that resulted in sexless marriages, spouses that are mere strangers, people who can't remember having no relation with their father. And even that unsatisfactory organisation is no longer possible with the economy now.

Some Japanese men dont want another mother

So far, among those I've known, 99% of the Japanese men that wanted to marry and wouldn't find... they were all looking for another mother. (The 1% were pimps). They have never seen any other type of male-female relation than mother/son and hostess/patron.

Many Japanese still follow the custom where when the oldest son gets married,

That's totally a thing of the past in Kansai, that came out of fashion in the 30's in cities, in the 50's in suburbs. Now, the few remaining 3 generations housholds are voluntary familly arrangements (they get along well, they take a house designed with 2 flats, that's covenient for baby-sitting/granny-sitting) and that's now usually the parents with the youngest daughter.

I don,t want them out doing each other to win the child attention.

Oh, you need exclusivity ? Forget children. Take a dog , you can get it trained to eat only food from your hand.

In France,” he says, “there’s an abundance of public housing; a young couple can rent an apartment for the equivalent of 10,000 yen a month.

Where that tale comes from ? We have the hugest housing crisis over. Note that the marriage rate is very low in France, anyway.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

"You should tell that to Mr. Fujita, the Japanese man quoted in the above article who speaks positively about the French model.

I will if the opportunity arises."

Bullfighter, if you have a Facebook account, here's your opportunity to fight the bull directly rather than uploading comments on an anonymous forum. Fujita has a Facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/takanori.fujita.5. This is definitely his FB account since it mentions Hot Plus, the NPO he founded.

Since you are so certain that you are right on this matter (regarding low-cost housing in France as a model for Japan to study or emulate) and Fujita is wrong, you should let him know why that is the case.

0 ( +0 / -1 )

Living at home with parents seems, at least according to this article, a matter pf economic necessity and not prolonging childhood.

That may be true is some cases, but I have seen plenty of women from families who had some means, and yet they still lived at home (and some men I know also) and even though they have decent jobs and would be able to afford a place on their own, they choose not to but stay at home. They would rather spend a month's rent on going on vacations or eating out or buying very expensive consumer items and not durable goods.

One thing I have also noticed was that there were some women who are pretty much working and bound by family obligations to take care of a parent, and thus limit their chances of getting married. I have known a few of these, who put the family obligation of taking care of a parent(s) and not dating while other siblings have done so. As a result, one family member is left out of the possibility of getting married and having their own kids, for the sake of taking care of the parents.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I know many guys that just can't compete with the expectations that Japanese women have. However, a man seeking female company in Japan has a wide choice of venues therefore the pressure to compete for a marriage partner is mitigated somewhat. The outcome is that there will be a lot of graying single ladies out there living out their solitary lives....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I read this article and I was reminded of the "Japanese Cheating" article that popped up here a few days ago:

http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/heres-what-japanese-men-and-women-think-about-cheating

This is only one factor out of many, but no wonder young Japanese people are concerned about marriage... There's no commitment. There's no loyalty. And honestly, probably not a whole lot of love, either - that's very rare, and, very sad.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Uninspiring jobs, useless wages, barely any maternity leave if you had children anyway, a culture of anti-mixing of genders for even mundane conversations. And to top it off, relying on a generation that doesn't care for change. Read all about it! Expectations do not meet reality!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It sounds like the actual expected salary for prospective husbands differs by region as opposed to being a set figure nationwide. However regardless of the region, it is invariably unrealistic for the majority of single, i.e., available, men out there. 4 million yen in Aomori, 6 million yen in Tokyo etc. 7 million in Miyazaki is Disney-level Cinderella.

Since the majority of men cannot afford to keep a housewife, the logical thing to do would be stop subsidizing the men who can. Take away the free pension and healthcare from most dependent women. At the same time, bring in stronger laws, not recommendations, or policies, or guidelines, actual laws about sexual discrimination in the workplace. Bring in laws against constructed dismissal too, to stop sexual discrimination conducted in the form of "power harrassment" . Support married women who work because they are the new normality. Change the system away from one where the winners are the lucky few women who can marry a high earner and never have to work for more than pocket money. The free healthcare and pension for married dependent women means that one who earns 150,000 a month is barely better off than one who earns 100,000, and an employer who uses two of them part time gets away without making the contributions an employer who uses one full time would pay. The losers are married women who work full time and the people enlightened enough to employ them on that basis. The system is perverse.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'd say a big part is economic. If you want to have a kid in central Tokyo you have to be on $200k+ a year. Seeing as so many Japanese women don't work or have limited career options, this is very difficult to achieve unless moving an hour outside the city to the slums

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Take away the free pension and healthcare from most dependent women.

Yes! Lazy bon-bon munchers are killing this country, and the sooner we all acknowledge it, the better.

Support married women who work because they are the new normality. Change the system away from one where the winners are the lucky few women who can marry a high earner and never have to work for more than pocket money.

This, absolutely. Japan would change in a day if measures like these were implemented.

The system is perverse.

It certainly is, and I for one am sick of being forced to support it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The elephant in the room: The ones not getting married are just not that good looking.

Average or below-average looking Japanese women should just go abroad and meet men there. There are lots of desperate men who think J women are exotic and more feminine than their western counterparts.

As for Japanese men - SE Asia?

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

policies that raise people’s disposable income.

In other words, policies that boost economic growth and result in investment and thus lots of sustainable new, good jobs.

JMHO, but rather than focus so much time on trying to find someone to get married with, I think people should use their free time to do things that they personally enjoy. And if one of those things happens to be an activity that involves opportunities to meet other people, then you're not unlikely to find someone with similar interests, and end up get married.

Easier said that done, but a better economy and higher living standards might make this a more realistic option for more people.

If you want to have a kid in central Tokyo you have to be on $200k+ a year.

Central Tokyo is expensive. Live outside central Tokyo (doesn't have to be an hour outside) and it's not AS expensive. (Personally I don't see much attraction for people wanting to raise a family in the central city... There's better places for kids and adults on the outside, but depends what you are into I guess.)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The example used is France with so called public housing is a factor to reduce the cost of living of young couples? Always the socialist nonsense to solve problems. Japan, USA, France anywhere, how about reducing government taxes and regulation which is what causes the cost of living to be too high, then perhaps young couples can afford to be married with kids.

Though part of the problem is whatever marriage was, it needs to evolve into something which fits in the 21st century, a time when potential partners number in the 1000s across the world and life can be fulfilled without marriage

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The elephant in the room: The ones not getting married are just not that good looking.

I don't see this being the case. Men and women in Japan both seem to place way greater emphasis on factors unrelated to appearance in determining their marriage partner (as opposed to what they value in someone they are having a fling with, in which looks are way more important).

I think in fact the opposite is more likely the case. Attractive people may overestimate their value and set their standards too high, thus making it much more difficult to get married since they exclude more potential partners from consideration. Less attractive people might be less inclined to do that and thus, ironically, might have an easier time finding a partner since they have a wider selection of candidates they consider acceptable to choose from. Anecdotally most of the married couples I have known here have generally been average to below average in the looks department, really attractive married couples seem to be the exception, so I think this is more likely the case.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some of the comments here are flat out depressing.

We're in the middle of a demographic crisis in Japan. We desperately need more children but women who choose to stay home and raise a family are vilified and called lazy bums (see comments). We also need more women in the workplace, but if working women choose to take maternity leave or request the tiniest bit of flexibility from their companies so that they can care for their children and work they're equally vilified and labeled selfish, and pushed out of the workplace. Women seriously can't win in this country.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The vast majority of men do not earn enough to keep a housewife. If that is the goal, such men cannot get married and start a family. Women do not want them. That's what this story is about.

Housewives are free to make whatever choices they want. The tax system should simply not give them benefits it does not give other (less well off) parents who work full time. The tax system should also not reward companies for employing women in part time positions only. It creates a culture where women aim low and are rewarded for doing so.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Casual relations are ok.Marriage is a headache and God damn boring.I dont see what they are talking about as a problem.Young generation -as i can see and experienced-do not have same visions about marriage as old ones,i do agree with them.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

who the heck needs marriage when there is tindre?!!! swipe right fellas,,,

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Bullfighter, if you have a Facebook account, here's your opportunity to fight the bull directly rather than uploading comments on an anonymous forum.

Thanks. I'll check it out. I don't like false claims whether they come from gaijin or Japanese. Some of the NPO/NGO in Japan make really absurd claims.

Lastly, the education system in Japan is very hard. It is also very costly, cram schools, club activities, and University are almost all paid for by the the parents. University might be both student and parent paying. Students are tested in a daily basis, for Japanese children life is not easy. All of the testing and studying is to prepare them for the big college entrance test at the end. It determines their whole future. ..... Educating a child is expensive and the cost and stress may keep people from having children.

This is a class thing, not a Japanese thing. Similar behavior can be found among Korean, Chinese, Indian, and even American elites. Even where your description is somewhat in accord with reality, it is not a reality for all that many Japanese children. My kids in Japanese public schools have not had daily testing unless you count marking homework as testing. Half of all high school graduates do not go on to college and thus are not concerned about entrance exams. Of those who do go on to college, at least half get into college without taking a serious exam. Only a small number of colleges in Japan have really tough entrance requirements. Most private universities are close to being open door.

You are correct about cost of education being a factor in not having children. There are surveys asking married couples why they don't have more children. The number one answer is cost. Within cost the number one factor is cost of education. But, this is only a partial answer. Germany and Japan have the same fertility rate of 1.4 but Germany has essentially free education through college so it is clear that other factors are at work.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Its not mainly economical reasons-though its important-but the way how men and women see family or family life differed totally.Divorce rate getting very high,many,prefer to live as a single,and enjoy life-mainly males-away from headache of family and marriage.I have lots of young guys living in this way,never bothered.Classifying the problem as an economic one is not in any way the main reason.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

We desperately need more children but women who choose to stay home and raise a family are vilified and called lazy bums (see comments).

The majority of housewives in Japan do not have children living at home. The majority of mothers in Japan do not need to take several decades out to raise their 1.41 children.

This is a class thing, not a Japanese thing.

The majority of Japanese people regard themselves as middle class. So no, it can hardly be a class thing.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

With starting salaries of 2500000-3500000 yen/year, no wonder they stay home. Rent would take up literally all your wages if you lived in Tokyo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From the contents of his post it seems kyushubill has hired females to be "office gals" and males to be "managers". And therein is perhaps part of the problem of the way they've turned out.

I know a lot of unmarried Japanese women in their 30s to 50s. But they are not sitting around waiting for their princess wedding day. They are busy getting along in their jobs as teachers at all levels, civil servants for local municipalities, artists, farmers, musicians, doctors, nurses, small business owners, cafe or coffee shop owners or managers, and more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sometimes trying to understand Japanese can be very difficult. my wife's Japanese and even she has trouble understanding the Japanese mentality at times

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You see J women pushing baby carriages and meeting in the park, its all shigoto. Everything has rules and obligations. Riding the ebikes with babies, doing the daily commute to the market. Husband is suited up, on his way back home late with the kyuryo, all to be managed by Okusan. He breaks the monotony with drinks, perhaps an affair? I think this paradigm scares allot of the more attractive J women. So they stay single, act all prissy and live in a fantasy world and have created this new J woman alternative. Its not much better than the old paradigm but its better than stay home mom.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nothing new here. It's all about a mismatch between expectations and reality. The women are holding out for guys that earn 500,000 a month so they can drop out and stay home. The pool of men earning that is small to start with and mostly married. If you're a drop dead gorgeous gal you may be able to snaffle a banker, if not, sit back down and keep dreaming. The men? Oh, they're happy enough with their take out meals and phone order girlfriends. Most are priced out and can't be bothered with a thirty-something OL anyway.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yubaru said:

If parents would be teaching their off-spring how to be independent rather than dependent odds are this would not happen.

And how is that working out for western countries like the US, where divorce rates, struggling single parents, child abuse, rape, road rage, violent crime are sky high and accepted as a fact of life?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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