Japanese census statistics reveal it is now “impossible” for any Japanese over 35 to get married, with as few as 2% managing to net a spouse in the 5 years from 35 to 40, and fewer still for those who are even older.
Japanese government census data presents some alarming findings – for example, in 2005 the proportion of unmarried men aged 35-39 was 30.9%, but the same census conducted 5 years later on men aged 40-44 showed 27.9% were unmarried, suggesting a mere 3% managed to marry in the intervening period.
A similar pattern emerged for women, unsurprisingly considering the pariah status accorded to such “old hags” – only 2% of women in the same age groups managed to marry.
The situation is even worse for Japanese in their forties: only 0.4% of men and 0.5% of women over 40 managed to marry during the period, a tiny 0.1% of the total population of men and women.
It seems no exaggeration to say that Japanese over 35 have almost no chance of getting married.
The government apparently has no idea about the causes of this trend, whilst academia and western observers rarely manage to go beyond a simplistic caricature of Japanese society as an oppressive patriarchy in which women’s only escape from marriage slavery is to stay single.
Opinions from within Japan’s lucrative marriage industry are more varied – one such “marriage consultant” holds forth:
“The fact that people are much more forgiving of people staying single in this day and age is a big factor.
Most of the unmarried over-35s are people who prioritised their hobbies or careers over romance when in their twenties.
A great many of them have limited experience dating, and they tend to look for partners with much higher specs than their own – for men, young and cute women, for women, hot guys with high incomes.
The conclusion we can draw is that they don’t understand their own value on the marriage market.”
Particularly for men, having a below average income is thought to be especially damaging to marriage prospects.
For those men seeking partners from “konkatsu” parties and traditional marriage interviews, as these involve trying to find a wife from a group of strangers, the importance of a man’s “spec” (income, looks, career, etc.) is only increased.
A combination of being over 35 and having a below average income is said to be particularly deadly to a man’s chances.
The marriage consultant is brutal about the prospects of venerable over-35s:
“Thinking you will eventually find a partner is now just an illusion. As the data shows, once you are over 35 marriage is even harder than getting into an elite university. It’s not very romantic, but its just akin to hunting for a job.”
In the face of such barriers, many Japanese seem to have simply given up on both marriage and sex. Nonetheless, 86% of Japanese still profess a desire to marry.
Online, there is not much doubt where most of the leftover 25% can be found:
“What was that? Did anyone mention love at all?”
“There used to be something called ‘love,’ but now everyone is happy living alone.”
“What horrible statistics…”
“These stats mirror the increase in women’s average age of marriage. There’s no such difference for men. It’s quite clear that the cause is women deciding not to marry.”
“Is there any hope for an unemployed 31-year-old virgin like me?”
“It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise a child. Your wife detoriates as the years pass. And you kid could end up a criminal or whatever…”
“If you’re that pessimistic even being a bachelor is going to be miserable.”
“I can see unmarried women over 35 being in difficulty, as all that’s left is the ugly ones and the ones who have totally unrealistic expectations. But men? If you’re not fat or bald you won’t have a problem, I guarantee it.”
“I’m a 47-year-old singleton banker. Can I wed?”
“I think that depends on your income.”
“To think I’ll never marry, despite getting two chocos on Valentine’s Day in middle school.”