Corona-induced wedding cancellations lead to heavy charges, premarital split-ups


Around 1990, some couples who embarked on overseas honeymoons learned that for all intents and purposes they were so incompatible that upon their return to Japan they went their separate ways at the airport.

This phenomenon spawned the "Narita rikon" (Narita divorce). During the early years of the Heisei period the term became widely popularized and later an eponymous trendy drama series on the Fuji TV network in 1997.

Now Yukan Fuji (Apr 2) has spotted the makings of a somewhat similar situation. Weddings in Japan are often held in the springtime. Due to the effects of the coronavirus this year, however, more couples are not only calling off their receptions, in response to the call for social distancing; some are actually calling off their marriages altogether. Hence the new term, "Corona rikon."

The symptoms are aggravated by cancellation fees in the millions of yen, and even lawsuits.

One couple booked a venue to be held the end of March at one of Tokyo's most prestigious hotels. Confronted with the storm of information on social media about the dangers of the coronavirus, the couple sat down and discussed whether they should postpone the happy event, or completely call it off.

"The bride said she 'wanted to put on a wedding gown and hold the ceremony as initially planned,'" a wedding organizer related. "But the groom argued that he would want to invite his boss and co-workers. If they were to become infected it would be a disaster. 'So let's postpone it,' he urged her.

"The two of them got so emotional it lapsed into a screaming match right in front of me and my staff," he said.

Around the middle of March, the hotel was informed by the groom that the couple was at loggerheads, and that he saw no recourse but to call off the event.

At this one hotel alone, no fewer than 60 wedding banquets are said to have been cancelled during the month of March alone.

"It would be a misunderstanding for people to think all the weddings this season have been cancelled; actually about two-thirds were held according to the original plan," a spokesperson for the Japan Bridal Institutional Association told Yukan Fuji.

At a banquet held on March 20, the father of the groom gave his thoughts. "Since marriage is the forming of a bond, timing is important. We don't know when the pandemic will be over, so it was difficult to set a new date. We decided to hold it even if only the family and a few close friends come. At it turned out, all of the friends on both sides came, and it turned out to be a joyous occasion."

Unfortunately it's been less than joyous for hotels such as the one mentioned above. In some cases they were able to charge families between 50,000 to 100,000 yen, for actual expenditures. But the cancellation fee for the deluxe wedding planned by that particular couple came to 5 million yen. (The family paid it.)

At another hotel in the city, cancellation charges for ordered flowers and wedding cake, and remuneration for the master of ceremonies and photographer, printing of invitations, etc, typically ranged from between 300,000 to 1 million yen.

Actually insurance is available when contracting wedding events, which covers cancellation due to sickness of a partner or pregnancy of the bride, as well as for reasons of "disaster." Would the insurance cover a pandemic?

"I suppose there will be some lawsuits contesting this," said attorney Akitomi Nakajima, adding "The families are likely to plead that the hotels and organizers cannot provide evidence that the amount of losses was so high as they're demanding, and petition the court to for a settlement with a reduced size of the claims."

© Japan Today

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I read somewhere once that the higher the wedding cost the higher the risk of divorce.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This pandemic is quickly showing everyone who has good sense and who does not.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Just adds weight to the theory that the problem with marriage is not that it's too easy to get out of, rather that it's just too easy to get into.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Weddings and other ceremonies should be banned during the pandemic. Too many people spending too long in close contact in one place. Not to mentioning those that have travelled to get there.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Yes, U are correct.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I guess this shows each fiancé's true colors. If they are going to quibbling over money and are not willing to ride the storm of coronavirus out, then they're really not meant to be together and shouldn't marry.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! You mean to tell me that because they can’t have their wedding as scheduled and wait a few months, that they decide to get divorced? Really? So much for true love! Why Japanese people, Why?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

since 1981, why would you extrapolate one couple ino “Japanese people” as a whole?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Hotels or venues charging cancellation fees is paramount to profiteering. They should out each and every one of these companies.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Narita Rikon" was a media invention, like the "Yelllow Cab" scandal was - both from the same time frame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We cancelled our trip to Rome for this spring, and lost thousands of dollars as a consequence. Fortunately, my wife has not mentioned divorce (just joking. She doesn't blame me at all.) Better to lose money than one's lives, and besides, we are lucky to be able to lose that money. As Tey Dela Cruz mentioned, I do wish that our hotel did not have a no refund policy. The American hotel gave us back our money, but the monastery in Rome so far has not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We had to cancel our trip to the US this March. Depressing as I haven't seen my friends and family for a few years and even then it was for a funeral. Was really looking forward to that. Thankfully they refunded the ticket prices and extended the use of our sky coin.

On a more selfish note, kinda glad this years wedding season is coming to nil. Maybe we'll do something fun with the few hundred-thousand yen in savings lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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