While COVID-19 has caused a dip in the number of divorces filed in Japan last year, overall divorce rates have been rising.
There are a multitude of reasons why people divorce, whether due to infidelity, safety, or other socioeconomic issues. But a survey done by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare in 2018 has ranked prefectures by their divorce rates and challenged preconceptions of the nation’s divorce statistics.
The top five prefectures with the highest divorce rates are:
Kochi (46.15 percent)
Okinawa (45.87 percent)
Wakayama (44.54 percent)
Miyazaki (43.82 percent)
- Hokkaido (43.51 percent)
At first glance, there are a few overlapping factors with the prefectures on this list. All five prefectures are considered relatively rural, and the top four especially have a handful of similar traits, such as being located in southern Japan, having a warmer climate, and having a smaller population.
But why does Kochi specifically have the highest divorce rate?
With a population of roughly 750,000, Kochi is no major hub, though the prefecture has plenty of cultural-historical clout as the birthplace of yosakoi, a festive form of traditional Japanese dance.
Unsurprisingly, a variety of theories have been thrown around already concerning Kochi’s not-so-lucky spot. One common perspective focuses on Kochi’s population. After all, a smaller population means a smaller dating pool. It’s harder to be picky when your options are more limited, and less opportunity to meet folks could mean more snap decisions when it comes to dating, and ultimately, marriage.
The idea that population affects the divorce rate is also reflected in the prefecture with the lowest divorce rate: Tokyo. With a divorce rate of 27.45% and a population of 9.2 million, now the question is what factors contribute to Tokyo’s unexpected ranking?
Opposite to Kochi’s situation, many believe Tokyo’s high population count as the reason why the divorce rate is low. With a larger dating pool, folks can be more picky, and no doubt with more options comes the opportunity to carefully select one’s marriage partner.
Another potential factor is also the high cost of living. It’s always easier to maintain a household with two rather than one income source, and Tokyo isn’t exactly the cheapest place to live. Some folks, especially women, may be more hesitant to divorce as they have a higher risk of financial instability.
Applying for a divorce isn’t expensive, but it’s the consolation money, the cash you’re obligated to fork over to your partner in Japan for starting the divorce, that makes the wallet cry.
Source: Toyo Keizai Online via Livedoor News
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