The Two Faces of Japan: Adultery

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Ah Japan, the country that puts family above all else. We have heard the stories of long-suffering wives who sacrifice all, children who care for their parents into old age, and ancestors who are always remembered and revered. But is this still true today?

Unfortunately, modernization has played its cruel stack of cards in Japan too. Divorce is at an all time high, children abandon their parents in the name of fun, and ancestors have been kicked to the curb in favor of me, me, me. But all this would make Japan look bad, so these truths don’t often make it into the international news scene. Thankfully, today we have the internet, so the truth can’t stay hidden for long.

On the surface, the family is still strongly emphasized by the Japanese government and efforts to protect the family unit can be seen by the recent ruling from 2015 that married men and women must have the same last name. It is also interesting to note that in Japan there is no “marriage certificate” as we would know it in the U.S. Instead, all Japanese people are required to record new marriages, births, and deaths on the “family register.” The word “family” in Japan always includes grandma and grandpa in the mix and many families today consult with each other before making big decisions. Looking from the outside in, it would seem like Japanese people care a whole lot about family.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. One of the great killers of family in Japan today is adultery. Many Japanese like to blame the breakdown of the family on the Western World, which does have some truth to it, but let’s put a spin on it that many Japanese don’t like to think about: the long history of adultery in Japan. It is a widely recognized fact that adultery among Japanese males has been around since ages past. If you sit down and talk with the older generation in Japan they will tell you the horror stories of fathers who left the family for a mistress or dads who just couldn’t give up the massage parlors and snack bars. In the past, Japanese women were willing to excuse this behavior in the name of keeping the family together, but thanks to Western values, this is often no longer the case; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean women have gotten more moral.

While the reason given for most divorces in Japan is “differences in personality,” infidelity is still listed consistently as one of the top reasons people choose to leave their spouse. Alarmingly, it is one of the main reasons Japanese men choose to file for divorce, which shows that adultery is now becoming more common among women as well. In the past, Japan was able to hold the family together because women were willing to sacrifice all. Now, even women are willing to break up in the name of a slice of the passion pie.

To see just how far Japan has fallen, look no further than the success of Ashley Madison, an online affair website:

The nation that prides itself on conformity and proper appearances reached a million users in eight and a half months, the fastest pace among any of the 37 countries where the adultery site operates.

(Fox News, 2014)

The veil has been lifted and Japan can no longer hide the fact that the family unit is in grave danger. If Japanese society is to survive to the next generation they will need to not just emphasize the family in word, but also in deed. Especially since women, in the name of “equality,” are no longer willing to keep the family together, Japan would do well to repent of its evil ways soon before it’s too late.


This is the second in a multi-part series of a closer look at the dark side of Japan. To see the top page of this series click here.

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