Increasing international marriage in Japan

The number of international marriages in Japan continues to grow in recent years. Most of the cases are Japanese men marry South East Asian women particularly Chinese and Filipinas. Women of these two countries are thought most suitable to marry with for they are caring, friendly and hard working.

A characteristic of their marriage is that middle-aged Japanese men marry to Chinese or Filipinas in their 2os or 30s. These women are eager to marry Japanese men because they think Japanese are economically rich. Japanese men marry to them because they are worried about their old age having nobody to take care of them or, Japanese agricultural areas are now decreasing in population, so they cannot find their spouse in their local areas. Both sides are hoping to have a better life by marrying to each other.

However, their marriage usually ends with divorce. The first biggest cause is the lack of communication between husband and wife. Since foreign wife usually cannot speak good Japanese, couples cannot understand each other. Foreign wife gradually start to feel isolated both at home and outside home, so they wind up escaping from Japan to go back to their country.

Another cause is money trouble. Foreign wife come to Japan in search for a better wealthy life but after they got married, what they have found was Japanese husband were not rich enough to support them and actually they are having a hard time making ends meet. Even though they try to find jobs to make up for the deficits in their living expenses, it is still difficult for them to adapt themselves to work as institutions don’t provide proper job training for them.

Like this, foreign wives in Japan are under severe condition. As Japan is facing decreasing birthrate and aging population, international marriage will be inseparably related to the future of Japanese society. But still, Japanese systems for immigrants including marriage immigrants are very exclusive and not friendly. Japan should build up systems to support them by providing, for example, job training or language training to make it easy for them to adapt to Japanese society. Thinking of the future, immigrants will contribute a lot to Japanese economy in terms of their productivity and labor force, so fixing up immigrants friendly system will surely bring benefit to Japan in the long run.

by Eri Kobayashi


4 thoughts on “Increasing international marriage in Japan

  1. Hello, I read your blog post and it was really interesting!
    Some of the people close to me have married to someone with another nationality, including Japanese wife and foreign husband, which is the opposite case of what you have discussed about.

    Other than linguistic problems and money problems, things such as difference in culture, religion, say to educate their children, and so on, are also said to be the reasons for divorcing. Also, problem picked up recently is the difference in law among two countries; making the situation after divorce sophisticated.

    I agree to that Japan needs to built a support system for foreign immigrants ASAP.

  2. hi, Eri!
    I found the topic you chose interesting!
    I was also thinking of the increasing number of cross-cultural marriage in Japan.
    Like you mentioned in the article, resulting divorce is now a very big problem when it comes to international marriage. Of course, divorce hurts both of husband and wife in one way or other, but concern is that there are possibilities that Japanese husband tend to take more advantages or to end up in more profitable situation with the comparison to their foreign wife, I think. This power structure all goes same in Korea where I studied before. In Korea, there have been a huge increase in international marriage between Korean husband and South East Asian wife. Compared to the Japanese immigration policies, Korean government are more willing to take more active actions for immigrant wives, like language school for foreigners, welfare center for immigrant women or some other supports by using their tax. However, it is also true that these immigrated wives are very often subordinated to their husbands or been struggled from domestic violence.
    So I strongly believe that if Japan will allow more international marriage in the near future, all they have to do first is to set up variety types of supports for them.

    If you are interested in international marriage in Korea,
    there articles would help you!

    Timothy Lim(2010), “Rethinking Belongingness in Korea: Transnational Migration, ‘Migrant Marriage’ and the Politics of Multiculturalism”, Pacific Affairs, Vol.83

    So-mang Yang (2009), “The Korean Way to Multiculturalism?”, Yonsei International Affairs, Vol 1, Issue 2

    Andrew Kim(2010), “Increasing Ethnic Diversity in South Korea: An Introductory Essay, Korea Observer, Vol.41, No.4

    金 賢美「韓国における多文化主義と文化的市民権–結婚移住女性を中心に (特集 グローバル化するメディア社会と文化的市民権) 平田 由紀江訳」(『学術の動向』、2011年、第16巻、第1巻)

  3. Firstly, I just thought that it is kind of sad to get married for money or improvement of their life. It is pity because if you cannot communicate or spend everyday together without having love toward the other, your life would be very boring and stressful. Of course, if they have already built up their relationship and know each other very well, it is good to get married. Therefore, I kind of have a hesitating feeling toward the reality that international marriage in Japan is increasing due to those reasons.

  4. reference
    結婚移民シンポジウム(10/16)配布資料 「ケアの担い手としての結婚移民」 安里和晃
    handout distributed at symposium for marriage immigrants

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