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