Japan Today



'Vintage year divorce' hits older couples


The so-called “vintage year divorce” has been increasing in Japan. According to a government survey, the number of divorce cases among couples after more than 20 years of marriage exceeds 40,000 every year, which is six times higher than 30 years ago.

Veteran actor Shingo Yamashiro, 69, is one of them. Yamashiro, who debuted in 1957 and has long been known as a playboy, appeared in regular TV programs and films until 1999, when he dropped out of sight. That was about the time his wife Hiromi Hanazono, 67, divorced him. Shortly after, he was hospitalized.

A women's magazine reported recently that Yamashiro has been in a nursing home with 24-hour care, which amazes showbiz insiders now.

“I think the divorce hit him hardest," said a friend of Hanazono. "His wife had been patient with his playboy antics for a long time.” Even their daughter, actress Yuka Minami, told a magazine in 2006, “I don't wanna call him (Yamashiro) 'father.' He is a liar, selfish and senseless.”

Yamashiro lived together with his family for a while after the divorce but soon separated. A neighbor says, “I saw him last year walking alone in a restless way and his eyes had that glassy look. He was choosing TV dinners at a supermarket for a long time. I hesitated to speak to him.”

One showbiz insider says Yamashiro directed films in 2003 and 2004. But they were commercially unsuccessful, which made it difficult for him to come back into the showbiz mainstream.

While Yamashiro is now in a difficult situation, Hanazono seems fulfilled. She currently lives in a gorgeous house in Meguro with the daughter. Her friend says, “Yamashiro gave Hanazono and his daughter almost all of his property as part of the settlement. Hanazono looks 50 although she is almost 70. I think she is now enjoying her life.”

Divorce counselor Mio Kayama has some advice for older couples. “Being with a partner for more than 20 years, everybody more or less has some complaints against each other. Without any outlet for stress, wives take 'action'. The majority of husbands underestimate their wives and tend to think they have been 'feeding' them. But husbands must be understanding about their wives all the time through daily communication. They just need to say 'thank you' to them, which is a beginning of such communication.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

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The revised "Nenkin" regulations have made this a simpler process for Japanese wives.

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Only 2 of these paragraphs are not about some celebrity I've never heard of. Put this kind of article in the entertainment section please.

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Why do I not feel sorry for this guy?

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Womanizing, infidelity and concubinism (I coined this, sorry) has been part of the culture for a very long time and subsequently been condoned, but times are changing now, for the better.

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Husbands/men everywhere always underestimate their wives/women - taking them for granted. How many relationships I had to end w/a great guy all because after a while he started getting this idea that he had a good thing to stay that he could have meaningless flings on the side and when he was not feeling at his best he could always crawl back to that one woman who loves him. But sorry men, it appears 20 years seems to be the limit for some - in my case, 20 minutes.

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melissamt: Sounds like you just date jerks, and that's your problem.

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I suspect that those who divorce after 20 years should have done so much sooner. A marriage in which philandering is rampant is not a marriage that will last. Neither is one in which communication is one-way or non-existent. I suspect that the greater problem is lack of communication brought on by inattentiveness to the state of the marriage and excused by long work hours, exclusive devotion to children, etc.

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Everyone always blames the man for everything that goes wrong. Maybe after 500 nights in a row of "Not tonight" men eventually just get lonely. Men are men! She appears to be enjoying his money I see.

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Old wives, pity old codgers. Philandering was programmed into them. Cosset them when they return battered by gold-diggers if they never left you destitute.

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