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Pandemic wedding plunge adds to Japan demographic woes

19 Comments
By Kiyoshi Takenaka

The number of marriages in Japan tumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the health ministry said, likely adding to the wealthy nation's low birth rate and ageing population problems.

Japan last year saw 537,583 marriages, a 12.7% fall from a year earlier - the biggest percentage drop since a 15.1% tumble in 1950, when a post-World War Two marriage boom began to fizzle out, the ministry said.

Unlike in some Western countries, in Japan only a few out of every 100 babies are born out of wedlock, suggesting a stronger correlation between the number of marriages and the number of babies born.

Some couples postponed their weddings to wait until large gatherings like wedding receptions can be held again, while others hit by economic difficulties in the pandemic must have given up on marriage altogether, said Takumi Fujinami of the Japan Research Institute.

"Chances are high that the decline in marriages in 2020 will weigh down the number of child births for a certain period from this year onward," Fujinami said.

"I hear many women have lost jobs during the pandemic, but not much social security is there for these people, or for young people in general and those who are newly married. It's about time, I think, to think hard about these issues."

The number of babies born every year in Japan nearly halved over the 40 years to 2019, leading former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call the phenomenon a "national crisis".

A declining birth rate and the longevity of the elderly have made the country the world's most aged society, with 35.9 million people - 28% of the population - aged 65 or above.

Daily COVID-19 cases in Japan have been in decline in recent weeks after peaking in early January, although Tokyo and nine other prefectures are still under a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded about 426,000 infections and 7,549 related deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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At least we can see that people truly are adhering to social distancing.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Unlike in some Western countries, in Japan only a few out of every 100 babies are born out of wedlock, suggesting a stronger correlation between the number of marriages and the number of babies born.

Paying lip service to the "dekichata" marriages here! And it's no wonder why the divorce rate is also so high, as many of these marriages end up in failure, all because someone wasnt smart enough to use birth control.

Also not noted, is the number of abortions related to this as well.

This is a very misleading statement that glosses over numerous other problems.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I got married a week before the pandemic was officially announced in Japan. CoronaMarriage.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Marriage is great in theory but a lot of us know the reality.

Less marriages = less divorced people and broken homes!

The population issues will not be solved because people have realized that happiness does NOT mean you have to get married.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Unlike in some Western countries, in Japan only a few out of every 100 babies are born out of wedlock, suggesting a stronger correlation between the number of marriages and the number of babies born.

Paying lip service to the "dekichata" marriages here! And it's no wonder why the divorce rate is also so high, as many of these marriages end up in failure, all because someone wasnt smart enough to use birth control.

Also not noted, is the number of abortions related to this as well.

or the young mothers who kill their babies and dump them or others who just plain abandon them.

This is a very misleading statement that glosses over numerous other problems.

Well said!

Unfortunately, there are many contributors who take below the belt jabs at the west when they are forced to address a problem Japan has. It's really childish

3 ( +5 / -2 )

There will never be an uptick in births now, it's all downhill unfortunately. Young Japanese just haven't got a baby boom in them, not tough like the post war generation. The financial burden of supporting all those old people now and in the coming decades will surely finish off Japan.

Better get building androids quick Japan, there's no other solution.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Dear Japan,

The future belongs to those who show up for it, just remember that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Marriage, especially in Japan, is just a legal procedure and a bureaucratic mess, and that’s all. Proof of that is that people will declare a marriage with documents they have to pay for at City Hall, and IF they have a celebration of the marriage it could be months later. They do it at fake churches and hotel lobbies. What’s more likely here is the hotels that rent the partitioned lobbies are worried about the drop in income. Can still love and have a family without the legal procedures that turn it into a farce.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

My anecdotal observation is that there is a minority who marry and then have 2-4 children and they are the only ones with big families. The majority either never marry, or marry and have the obligatory 1 or maybe 2 children. I think if you want to increase the number of children you have to listen to that minority who want many children and help them out with land or housing loans, etc.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Capitalists are terrified of a natural population decline. Japan is so crowded, having a smaller population would be a good thing for Japan, and especially China.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

How about SPEEDING UP the process of vaccination to re-open & reinvigorate the economy by this summer. Which would allow not just the Wedding Industry to proliferate, but all other aspects of the economy. As for demographics: a decrease in population is All To The Good. It reduces the need and pressures on natural resources. It allows for a lower cost of living in terms of housing, which would require an adjustment from behemoth corporate entities. As for the fable about supporting pensioners and other social services: the Yen is a fiat currency and allows an ability to fund such thru central banking entities. In short, the cash can be printed and distributed thru various financial & banking mechanisms without causing harm to the overall economy. the other element, that particular demographic of elders will eventually dissolve over a fairly short period of time as their numbers are concentrated and limited over a very specific time span. One of the most pressing problems is over-population, it is one of the primary causes of environmental degradation and ecocide. Less people, more opportunity.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

My town of 4,500 odd people shrinks by 10 or 15 people every month.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Is it stil allowed to say that my wife and I are stil very happily married after 16 years ? May i ?

we made that decision out off love and we are as happy as on day one with each other. We live in Japan but we are both Belgian so it is not a convenience marriage. I read so many negative comments here on marriage

And we have decided we do not want children but we want to enjoy our lives. That is ,I think, also an important reason for many couples. Children are not a must for a happy marriage.

I am happy to support ,through taxes ,other couples. It is called respect and solidarity. Frankly , I think the world should reduce the current numbers of humans by half to make it better and liveable for all creatures.

Japan , by 2050( much earlier then statistics say) will have 80 million people and each of them will be much better off.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The number of marriages in Japan tumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the health ministry said, likely adding to the wealthy nation's low birth rate and ageing population problems.

Hey look.

A "no duh" moment (less wedding ceremonies in 2020,) a typo (no E in aging) and a scapegoat accusation (covid is adding to the nation's low birth rate, which has NOTHING to do with a terrible LDP) all in the same paragraph.

Talk about a triple threat today!!! Alliteration!!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Robert: Big praises and logical. If you did happen to have kids, their would have been a much larger chance that you would have gotten divorced.

I had three children in my first marriage. It sure was work. One of my daughters got married in the ward office last fall. Having a big party in June. I am not going as I feel this virus will still be with us. Promised to use zoom, and she said very cool and putting up a big screen.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

In my opinion, I think marriages worldwide most likely have nosedived in 2020 because of this pandemic and might continue to do so since people who are not financially stable won't decide to get hitched, let alone raise a kid. This is not a Japan-only problem. From what I can see (and this might already be obvious to those who read news a lot), countries that are highly-developed and have high income generally have a lower birth rate than less-developed and financially not so well-off states. But the Japan-specific problem is that the current system does not allow the population to live and would rather work them to the bone and pay them scantily while expecting them to have the resources to raise a family.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This story confuses two similar-sounding but actually different things, getting married and having a wedding.

The headline is about "weddings", but the stat in the first line is about "marriages". In Japan, getting married is "nyuseki suru", the legal act. Having a wedding is "(kekkon) shiki wo suru/ageru".

For couple formation and I guess the likelihood of future births, it doesn't actually matter if you get married with or without a wedding ceremony. However, weddings in Japan are a major form of economic activity and pay a lot of people's bills, the fake priests included. The events sector as a whole has been massively hit by Covid, probably more than restaurants and accommodation who are getting all that GoTo taxpayer cash.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Most couples can't afford even a simple wedding, so why bother. living together is a much happier life style with NO ropes around the neck and NO open checks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am not going as I feel this virus will still be with us. Promised to use zoom, and she said very cool and putting up a big screen.

Aren't you the guy who goes traveling all over Japan? The real reason is that you don't want to attend. In any case you did your duty making 3 kids.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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