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Now, One Out of 20 Marriages are Mixed!

According to the statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, there were 36,039 international marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese in 2003. This is about 5 percent of the 740,191 couples who married in Japan, which means an an average of one out of 20 marriages were mixed. It was one out of 22 in 2000. International couples in Japan have thus increased.

Among international couples, foreign husbands and Japanese wives make up about 20 percent. Looking at the statistics by nationality. Koreans were involved in 2,235 marriages, followed by Americans in 1,529 marriages, Chinese in 890, British in 334 and Brazilians in 265 marriages respectively. Foreign wives and Japanese husbands make up about 80 percent, led by Chinese in 10,242 marriages followed by Filipino in 7,794 marriages, Koreans in 5,318, Thai in 1,445 and Brazilians in 296.

It should be pointed out that there is an imbalanced structure in Japan's population between men and women looking for marriage which can be a reason for the increase in international marriages. At present, men aged between 20 to 50 number about 10 million and the women in this age group about 8 million. There are approximately 2 million men aged 35 to 50. If they want to have children, their target will generally be women between 30 to 35 years old. However, the women in this range number about one million. That shows that one out of two men in their late 30's and 40's faces difficulties finding a partner if they only target Japanese women.

On the other hand, women between 30 to 35 years old have a tendency to seek men of similar ages. Furthermore, women seeking men under their age are increasing. In addition, the number of parents who are not pushing their daughters to marry are also increasing. According to a survey carried out by OMMG, a marriage matching service company, 71 percent of the parents who live with single daughters aged between 25 and 39 years old answered, "It is all right that my daughter does not marry until she finds a good man." In Japan, people have a culture to allow parasite singles. The biggest factor in this increase in international marriages is that men in their late 30's and 40's will find it more difficult to get married.

Men want "downward" partners while women want "upward" partners
There are two prominent features about Japanese international marriages. One is that the majority of partners are from neighboring countries including Korea, China and Philippines. This is due to geographical and historical relations. The reason Brazil is outstanding in numbers is due to the fact that many Japanese-Brazilians are working in Japan. Another feature is that foreign wife and Japanese husband partnerships make up the majority of mixed marriages at 80 percent. In the case of foreign husbands, excluding neighboring countries, American husbands are most common. This may be due to the good Japan-US relations after the war and the fact that there are many American military bases in Japan.

The tendency of international marriages is that, not only in Japan but also internationally, men want downward partners while women want upward partners. This means men want women whose educational background, income and height are less than theirs. Women are just the opposite. In Japan in the late 80's the jargon "San-ko" (three heights) became popular. This jargon refers to the educational background, income and height of men. It was a marriage condition for many Japanese women.

Statistics prove that men with low incomes and women with high incomes are highly likely to be unmarried. However, Japanese me with low incomes are still rich for those who live in developing countries and the situation will meet their conditions. Among foreigners Japanese women generally want to marry Western men.

How about the divorce rate among international couples? According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2003, while the divorce rate among Japanese couples was 38 percent, for international couples, it was 42 percent, a little higher. In the case of foreign husbands, 39 percent and in the case of foreign wives, 43 percent.

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