Marriage and Divorce Rates of (Mainly) Japanese Men to Foreigners

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I thought I would share some of the statistics on marriage and divorce here in Japan that I found from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. I love statistics and have added some charts to help you understand the state of marriages between Japanese men and foreigners here in Japan.

In 2015, 635,156 Japanese people got married; 20,976  of those marriages were of Japanese to foreigners: a measly 3 percent. Now, if you’re like me, you were surprised to see that Japanese guys marry more foreigners than Japanese women. Let’s find out why.

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Marriage to American women only makes up 1.3% of the total foreign marriage rate of Japanese men to foreigners, but Japanese women and American men are a staggering 18% of all foreign marriages! I think it’s safe to say that the American military presence here definitely plays a big part in this statistic. Since these marriages are predominately of non-Asian origin, they stand out more and thus, the stereotype that Japanese women marry foreigners more often than Japanese men.

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Japanese men, on the other hand, overwhelmingly choose Asian women to marry. Chinese (5,730), Filipinas (3,070), and Koreans (2,268) are the top 3. Japanese women also married a high number of Asians with Koreans (1,566) and Chinese (748) being the most common, but even including Filipinos to the mixture, these 3 only add up to 40% of the total of foreign marriages. Japanese men chose from these 3 groups for foreign marriage 75% of the time! Japanese men really do marry more foreigners than Japanese women, you just haven’t noticed yet because their mainly from Asia.

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Now on to the divorce numbers. Of the 13,675 foreign divorces filed in Japan in 2015, a whopping 76% of them involved Japanese men! This really hits home the image of the long-suffering Japanese wife and could be why Japanese guys get a bad rap.

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The good news for Japanese men is that American women only account for 0.6% of the total of foreign divorces. While many people have the image of the “overpowering” American woman in their heads, these numbers here beg to differ. Thinking positively, there are way more Japanese men marrying American women than divorcing them. If it was really that bad, divorce would outpace marriage, right? In fact, these rates don’t look that much different from the overall divorce rate in Japan of 1 in 3.*

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So… In conclusion, keep up the good fight, ladies! It’s not easy being married to a Japanese guy and living in Japan, but the effort is worth it! I wish you all the best!!!


Sources:

I got my information for this post from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare from this Japanese excel file: 人口動態統計年報 主要統計表(最新データ、年次推移)はこちらから

There is more information in English at the link below but it’s a pain to download every excel file and is way too detailed for my liking. I couldn’t find the same excel chart in English, so if you do happen to find it, please let me know, so I can add it to the post.

English version: Lists of Vital Statistics for 2015

Japanese version: 人口動態調査

Note:

*Calculating the divorce rate is difficult, because the people who got married in 2015 are not the same people who are divorcing in 2015. Therefore, you technically “can’t” divide the number of people getting married by the number of people divorcing, because they are not the same people. To get 100% accuracy, you would have to measure the same people throughout a period of time.  That’s why you should always check to see how the numbers are calculated that make up the divorce rate. This site explains it well: Divorce Rate: It’s Not as High as You Think.

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