Press "Enter" to skip to content

Will Japan become a society of half-breeds?

Kaela Kimura
Fashion model Kaela Kimura
A rapid increase in the number of women in their 20s and 30s choosing foreign husbands may turn Japan into a land of half-breeds, or so says vernacular web news site J-Cast.

The site refers to Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare survey data that indicated that one baby out of every 30 is of mixed blood origin (konketsu no haafu). Moreover in the central wards of Tokyo, as well as in both Osaka and Nagoya, there is a high rate [of intermarriage] — one couple out of 10. According to an expert, over the past five years the number of [Japanese] women choosing Caucasian partners has increased more than tenfold. Is Japan, J-Cast wonders, on the verge of becoming a society where — the presence of — mixed-breeds is taken for granted?

J-Cast suggests taking a look at prominent figures in the world of sports and entertainment — Yu Darvish (baseball), Kaela Kimura (fashion model), and Eiji Wentz (actor), for example — to see just how many haafu are flourishing. They seem to conspicuously flaunt their differences, the news site adds.

J-Cast includes data to support its observations. According to the ministry, the number of infants born in 2006 with at least one foreign parent came to 3.2 percent, or one child out of 30. This means that about one child in every school class will be of either non-Japanese ancestry or part Japanese.

International marriages are increasing, the site says. The ministry noted that 6.6 percent of couples wed had at least one foreign partner, which makes one couple out of every 15. This is the highest level in the past 10 years. In the central wards of Tokyo and in Osaka and Nagoya, the rate [of intermarriage] has reached the high figure of one couple out of 10.

Mr. Yoshihiro Watanabe, vice director of the NPO International Marriage Association, revealed this surprising reality.

“There’s been an overwhelming increase in Japanese females in their 20s and 30s marrying European and American males. This has increased by more than tenfold over the previous five years.”

The reasons, according to Mr. Watanabe, are greater opportunities for women to go abroad for language studies, as well as the conspicuous entry of foreign-capitalized businesses from Europe and North America.

“There is data to the effect that about 90 percent of females who major in the humanities at university have experience studying abroad, and they have an extremely low threshold toward foreigners. Also, there is information that the women are attracted to elite [staff] employed by major insurance firms.”

J-Cast asks whether Japanese men are becoming less attractive to females. The article includes ministry data that reveals that today the most common nationalities of foreign fathers are (in order): South Korea, North Korea, China and Brazil.

“That may be the case now, but after a few more years, I suppose the ratio of Caucasians will increase,” says Mr. Watanabe. “I heard from Nozze and Zwei (matchmaking services) that many Japanese women are asking, ‘Don’t you have any foreigners?’ I suppose from now Caucasian males will keep on rising in the rankings,” he analyzes.

Mr. Watanabe noted that Japanese males continue their earlier trend toward marriage with Asian females.

“Just as before, there’s no change in the 40 to 60 age bracket. They don’t get along well with Japanese females, which has resulted in their turning towards foreign women. This began increasing from more than 10 years ago and there are said to be between 2,000 to 3,000 marriage brokers in Japan.”

The article says that according to the ministry, foreign mothers outnumber foreign fathers by 1.4-fold, and come from the following countries (in descending order of frequency): China, Philippines, South Korea and North Korea.

Mr. Watanabe says that Japanese males have lost their appeal.

“Young people with no money, such as freeters and NEETs, are increasing. That’s why [women] think that elite foreigners employed by foreign companies are so wonderful.”

It stands to reason however that not all marriages with foreigners are seen as good, J-Cast cautions.

Due to omissions in laws concerning marriage, many people seek advice on such matters as “we can’t get a visa.” Some couples or their children also suffer the stigma of discrimination. And cases of divorce due to cultural clashes are also increasing.

As a result of the increase in international marriages and the proliferation of haafu entertainers, it appears that the younger generation of Japanese will be increasingly more receptive to the haafu, the article says.

“Haafu primary schoolers who can speak two or three languages are envied,” says Watanabe. “It appears that people who can speak foreign languages are viewed as smart and popular.”

Source: “Nihon wa konketsu no haafu shakai ni? Oubeijin erabu 20~30-dai kyuzo (Will Japan become a society of mixed blood origin? Rapid increase in women in their 20s and 30s choosing caucasian partners)” (August 9, 2008).