Tokyo: A large proportion of men and women in Japan say they do not intend to marry, trend experts have warned will undermine efforts to address the country’s population crisis. The National Institute of Population and Social Security, a government-affiliated body in Tokyo said the results of its 2021 survey, published this month, would add to concerns about the low birth rate.
The survey says, 17.3% of men and 14.6% of women aged between 18 and 34 said they have no intention of ever tying the knot, the highest figure since the questionnaire was first conducted in 1982. In that survey, taken just before the rise of the bubble economy in the mid-1980s, just 2.3% of men and 4.1% of women said they would never marry.
The decline in marriages will affect Japan’s birth rate as it faces depopulation and a shrinking workforce and economy, including a growing desire among young working women to enjoy the freedoms that come with being single and having a career. Experts said, government should make it easier for women to return to work after having children and to address Japan’s notoriously long working hours. Asked what constituted an “ideal” lifestyle for women, almost 40% of surveyed single men and 34% of single women cited the ability to balance a career with raising children. In a sign of shifting attitudes towards gender roles, less than 7% of men said they would like their future spouse to stay at home to look after the family.
Shigeki Matsuda, a sociology professor at Chukyo University in central Japan, said the declining marriage trend would adversely affect the birth rate. Government data released in May showed that Japan’s population fell by a record 644,000 last year – the 11th consecutive year of decline.