• Kyodo


Proving there is no age limit to marriage or romance, a growing number of Japanese in their late 40s and early 50s are taking their first shot — or even second or more — at tying the knot.

Driven by a desire for a romantic relationship, regardless of age, many people who lived through the asset-inflated bubble economy before it imploded in early 1990s are seen as wanting to enjoy the present despite today’s global economic uncertainties. And they’re turning to marriage as a way to do so.

At a time when the marriage overall is declining, the rise of people saying their nuptials at age 40 or older is being viewed as a developing trend, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

According to the institute, the number of men between 50 and 54 who tied the knot for the first time in 2015 was 4.7 times higher than in 1990 at 2,950. The ratio for women meanwhile doubled to 1,169.

Men in the same age bracket who embarked on their second marriage meanwhile totaled 7,710, or 1.6 times higher than in 1990, while women seeking second marriages more than doubled to 6,222.

Hiroyuki (not his real name), holds a management-level position at a major firm in the Kanto region. He said he got married for the first time when he was 49.

Hiroyuki, now 51, said he was so busy with work during weekends that he had no time to meet women outside of work. Also, given his senior position, he was hesitant to seek marriage partners in his office until he realized he was hitting the age of 50.

His colleague suggested that he register with a marriage consultancy. He was looking for a young woman at first but eventually hit it off with Keiko (also a pseudonym), who is 51 and on her first marriage as well. Hiroyuki said he felt at ease with her and was drawn to her fun-loving personality.

Abandoning his initial requirements, he decided to settle down with Keiko, who initially wanted to balance work with family. But she later quit her job to live with him.

He now comes home early and mingles more with his neighbors. Having a child may be difficult for the couple, but that means he doesn’t have to worry about the addedexpense of raising a child.

The couple said they enjoy their hobbies, travel and spending time together. For them, marriage came at just the right time.

“If we were young, we would have been putting all our efforts into simply making a living. We are glad we married at this age.”

Marriage consultation centers not only attract first-timers, but divorced people who want to give it another shot once their children become independent. Men are mostly looking for a new life after retirement, while women are seeking financial support.

In May, Nozze, a Tokyo-based center providing information about marriage, sponsored a matchmaking event in Yokohama near the capital in May.

Among the attendees was a 54-year-old woman, who had divorced her husband five years ago over his violent tendencies.

“At one point, I just did not want to be married anymore, but now I want someone with whom I can confide in,” she said.

Another participant, a 57-year-old man and three-time divorcee, said, “Marriage is good,” and added that he hopes to financially support his potential partner.

Megumi Ushikubo, a marketing writer, draws attention to the fact that over-50s comprise the bubble generation.

“This generation grew up watching television dramas about romance and thus have a strong mindset that romance is the most wonderful thing in the world,” Ushikubo said.

She said that people who experienced the go-go days of the bubble believe that if they work hard, they should be rewarded, and also had “unfounded confidence that even if times are hard now, things will get better.”

Noting that marriage has changed over the years, Rika Kayama, a psychiatrist said, “It is no longer about giving one’s life to another person, but rather being an emotional support or adding spice to one’s life.”

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