Japan Data

International Marriages in Japan Decline from 2006 Peak


International marriages peaked in 2006, but have declined considerably since then. Especially prominent is the massive drop in unions between Japanese husbands and Filipina wives.

According to a demographic survey released by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, in 2016 Japan had 21,180 international marriages. In total 620,531 couples tied the knot across the country during the year, meaning that one in every 29 marriages was between a Japanese national and a foreign citizen.

The ministry began compiling data on international marriages back in 1965. The year saw only 4,156 cases of nuptials between Japanese and non-Japanese citizens, meaning just one out of 230 unions was an international marriage. From that point, the annual total rose steadily, hitting the 10,000 mark in 1983, 20,000 in 1989, 30,000 in 1999, and 40,000 in 2005. However, it peaked at 44,701 in 2006 and has declined considerably since, falling below 40,000 in 2008 and below 30,000 in 2011. The proportion of international unions has also nearly halved from its high point of 6.11% in 2006 to 3.4% in 2016, although the last few years have seen a slight increase.

Among the factors seen as contributing to the drop in the number of international marriages, revisions to immigration laws enacted in 2005 cracked down on women entering the country on entertainer visas to work in hostess clubs. The government has also tightened up on fake marriages contracted with the aim of obtaining Japanese citizenship. Two of the most prominent pairings have seen significant declines in the number of unions recorded over the past decade. Nuptials between Japanese husbands and Filipina wives plummeted by 72% from 12,150 cases in 2006 to 3,370 in 2016, while those between Japanese husbands and Chinese wives fell by more than half from 12,131 to 5,526.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Japanese table tennis star Fukuhara Ai (right) with her Taiwanese husband Chiang Hung-chieh, also a table tennis player, on February 5, 2017. © Jiji.)

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