Namely, it is faced with the collapsing number of marriages, only 514,000 in 2021, which is the lowest annual figure since the end of World War II in 1945 and a steep decline from the one million weddings celebrated in 1970.
These are the figures highlighted by the most recent statistics released by the Japanese Ministry of Health, which attributes the causes to the worldwide pandemic crisis caused by COVID-19, but also to the economic and financial instability of Japan where some costs, such as those of housing and child-rearing, are reaching sky-high levels.
However, there is also an aspect that can be described as cultural, given that among Japanese 30-year-olds, one in four strongly states that they do not wish to get married, that they prefer to remain single, enjoy their time and availability, meet friends, go to the movies or play video games.
This data was also recently released by the Cabinet Office, according to which 25.4% of women and 26.5% of men in the indicated age group say they do not want to marry. Among those in their 20s, just over 19% of men and 14% of women have no plans to do so, but in this case the figure appears less unusual given the young age of the respondents.
Apparently, men and women gave different reasons for not wanting marriage. If the former claim that they do not desire marriage in order to enjoy personal freedoms, but also out of concern that they will not be able to financially support the family, for women the issue is even more decisively shifted to the cultural level.
Young Japanese women do not marry, they say, because they have fulfilling careers and do not accept the burdens of the traditional housewife, such as household chores, raising children and caring for elderly parents, who by the way are often, as custom dictates, the husband’s parents.
The Cabinet report concludes with the statement that “[…] the idea behind the Japanese family has changed and marriage is no longer seen as a safety net to ensure a stable life.”
Aya Fujii, a psychologist who provides mental health support in a government employment assistance program in Tokyo, said, “I see that many young people now love manga comics and anime shows. They prefer this to meeting and talking to real people in real life … Characters in manga and anime don’t argue or respond, and that, simply, is easier for many people.”
“I think many young people today lack social skills,” she added, “and that this is made worse because many families having only one child now, meaning that this child is growing up without interacting or developing the social skills he or she will need in later stages of life.”
Very few marriages, very few new births, an aging population with the highest life expectancy in the world. Fujii believes that population will not stop shrinking in the near future: “Eventually, Japanese people in their 20s and 30s, who are unable to communicate with people of the opposite sex, will find it more difficult to find partners and the national pattern of population decline will continue,” she concluded.