TOKYO -- A record 17.3% of men and 14.6% of women aged between 18 and 34 said they have no intention to marry, a Japan-wide survey has shown.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research released the results of the 2021 Annual Population and Social Security Surveys on Sept. 9, which indicated that increasingly more people in Japan are either not getting married or not inclined to tie the knot -- one of the reasons for the country's low birth rate.
The population and social security surveys are in principle carried out every five years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest edition was postponed by one year and conducted in 2021. The nationwide research targeted 14,011 unmarried men and women and 9,401 married couples. The valid response rate stood at 55.9% among singles and 72.7% of married couples.
Asked about inclinations for marriage, 17.3% of single men and 14.6% of single women said they have no intention to ever get married -- both the highest figures since the questionnaire began in 1982. In contrast, in the inaugural survey only 2.3% of single men and 4.1% of single women said they would not get married. The figures have shown an upward trend since 2002.
In 1982, 95.9% of single men and 94.2% of single women answered that they intended to marry one day, while in 2021, 81.4% of men and 84.3% of women said the same -- a record low.
When asked about "an ideal lifestyle for women," a record 39.4% of single men and 34% of single women said it would be "balancing between their career and raising children." The percentage of single men who wanted their spouse to be a stay-at-home wife has dropped significantly, standing at 6.8% in 2021.
Asked about requirements men and women sought in their potential spouses, 48.2% of men named "financial capabilities," up 6.3 points from the previous survey, while 70.2% of women placed emphasis on their partner's house chore and child care skills and their stance on such domestic work -- a whopping 12.5-point increase from the previous survey.
For married couples, an ideal average number of children was 2.25, down 0.07 from the previous survey, while they actually planned to have an average 2.01 children, the same as in the previous poll. Asked why their planned number of children was lower than their ideal number, the most common answer provided by 52.6% was "child care and education expenses are too high."
Shigeki Matsuda, a sociology professor on low fertility at Chukyo University in Aichi Prefecture, said Japan's declining birth rate is largely affected by people not getting married. He commented, "The Japanese government has been working to increase the birth rate by trying to help those who wish to get married or have children fulfill their aspirations. But if the number of people who don't want marriage continues to increase, the government will be forced to review its existing policies, and it could lead to a further decline in fertility."
(Japanese original by Takashi Kokaji, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)