BD Tutor, Jr.
More and more Japanese, mostly men, are tying the knot with foreigners. Over-all, 5% of all marriages recorded in Japan in 2005 were between a Japanese and a foreigner. But in Tokyo, such mixed unions are higher at 10% while in Osaka, it is 8%.
Surprisingly, Filipinas are the second most popular brides in 2005 at 10,429 after the Chinese, at 12,659. Considering that the Chinese are more than twice the Filipinos, consisting of 24% of the total foreign population while the Filipinos consist of only 10% of the foreign population in Japan, the Filipinas are still the No. 1 choice of bride on average by the Japanese male.
Needless to say, the number logged in 2005 is a steep increase from the average of 7,000 Filipinas marrying Japanese since the new millennium (it is estimated that only about 2% of recorded marriages between Japanese and Filipinos involve a Filipino groom). Every time a new regulation is put in place that affects the passage of entertainers to Japan, the number of marriages spike up. For example, before the Artist Record Book (ARB) was implemented in 1996, the number of Filipinas marrying Japanese shot up to 7,240 in 1994, which was the only time in that decade that the number breached 7000. The phenomenal increase in 2005 was likely because of the revision of the Immigration Law on March 15, 2005, which made it almost impossible for entertainers to enter Japan.
Because of such coincidences, many doubt if these are “love marriages.” With a divorce rate estimated to be at least 50%, which is several times more than that for the general population, there seems to be no reason to celebrate. In fact, it is believed that a number of Filipinas simply use marriage as a stepping stone for acquiring permanent residency, which is fast-tracked when the foreigner is “spouse or child of a Japanese national.” Since having a child is apparently considered by the Japanese government as proof of authenticity of the marriage, many Filipinas bear unwanted children who later become casualties of the broken union. There is also a substantial percentage of such marriages being only “paper marriages” o gizo kekkon, sometimes brokered for a fee, with the Filipina paying the Japanese a monthly maintenance fee.
The upside to increased intermarriages is that Japan’s graying population may be getting the boost it badly needs. Whereas households in which both spouses are Japanese have a birthrate of 1.33 in 2001, households in which one spouse is a foreigner have a birth rate of 2.9. It is no coincidence that Japan’s number of births rose in 2006 for the first time in six years, according to the report of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Foreigners may be Japan’s only hope of reversing the trend of a shrinking population. Moreover, Japanese men aged 20 to 50 outnumber Japanese women in the same age bracket by 2 million, increasing the pairless ranks. With the rising social trend of staying single in both sexes, marriage with foreigners may be the only key to unlock single households and revitalize this society’s reproductive drive.
(Written by the same author, portions of this article originally appeared in the January and February 2007 issues of Airmart Newsline.)