Japanese intermarriages

By year and nationality of spouses, 1955-2010

Three percent of Japanese are marrying non-Japanese

By William Wetherall

First posted 16 March 2006
Last updated 15 September 2010


With a few exceptions, marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese have been permitted throughout Japanese history. Generally the non-Japanese spouse has been treated as a Japanese spouse would be treated in terms of customary and statutory family laws.

During much of the Tokugawa period, relationships between Japanese and non-Japanese may have been tolerated in ports where non-Japanese were allowed to disembark, but formal marriage -- requiring recording in a Japanese family register -- was not generally allowed. However, marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese have been legally permitted since 1873.

Trends

The following table shows statistics on marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese since 1955.

Intermarriage rates

The "Percent marriages with non-Japanese" column shows that, during the past half century, the percentage of marriages in Japan, involving a Japanese with a non-Japanese, has increased from something less than one-half percent to nearly six percent in half a century.

Outmarriage rates

The "Percent Japanese marrying non-Japanese" column shows, among Japanese who are marrying today, nearly three percent are marrying foreigners. While foreigners constitute about 1.6 percent of the population of Japan, the large percentage of recent migrants are younger and single, hence the greater probability that more than 1.6 percent of all marriages in Japan will be between Japanese and non-Japanese.

Sex ratios

The "Percent marrying non-Japanese" and "Ratio of men/women marrying non-Japanese" columns (the last three columns) show that, until 1974, there were more marriages between Japanese women and non-Japanese men than vice versa. Whereas fifty years only about one Japanese man married out for every three or so Japanese women who married out, today nearly five times as many Japanese men as Japanese women are marrying out.

Foreign brides

The impact of the "foreign bride" industry, which introduces foreign women to Japanese men for purposes of marriage, begins to be seen during the 1980s. The number of Japanese who were marrying foreigners other than Koreans, Chinese, and Americans increased so much that, by 1992, vital statistics also began to tally intermarriages between Japanese and Filipino, Thai, Brazilian, Peruvian, and British nationals.


Marriages in Japan by nationality, 1955-2004
Between Japanese, and between Japanese and others
(Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, American, British, Brazilian, Peruvian, and Other)
Compiled, computed, and designed by William Wetherall, March 2006
Totals @ Both Japanese One Japanese and one non-Japanese @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ Out-marriage rates @ @ @
All other nationalities Kankoku/Chosen Chugoku Philippines Thailand USA United Kingdom Brazil Peru Other nationalities Ratios of Japanese marrying non-Japanese Ratio of
Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages Marriages to all Japanese who marry in Japan Japanese
Total Total Total Total Japanese Japanese Total Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Japanese Japanese Total Percent Percent Percent Percent men/
marriages spouses marriages spouses man woman marriages spouses Total man woman marriages man woman marriages man woman marriages man woman marriages man woman marriages man woman marriages man woman marriages man woman marriages man woman marriages marriages Japanese marrying marrying women
both/one one/both both both non-Jpns non-Jpns one not one not Japanese Korean Korean Japanese Chinese Chinese Japanese Filipino Filipino Japanese Thai Thai Japanese American American Japanese British British Japanese Brazilian Brazilian Japanese Peruvian Peruvian Japanese other other Japanese with marrying non-Jpns non-Jpns marrying
Year Japanese Japanese Japanese Japanese woman man Japanese Japanese spouses woman man Korean woman man Chinese woman man Filipino woman man Thai woman man American woman man British woman man Brazilian woman man Peruvian woman man other non-Jpns non-Jpns woman man non-Jpns Year
a 2a b 2b c d e=c+d 2e f=2b+e g h i=g+h j k l=j+k m m o=m+n p q r=p+q s t u=s+t v w x=v+w y z aa=y+z bb cc dd=bb+cc ee ff gg=ee+ff 100*e/a 100*e/f 100*c/e 100*d/e c/d
1955 714,861 1,429,722 94 242 336 1955
1956 715,934 1,431,868 134 340 474 1956
1957 773,362 1,546,724 168 407 575 1957
1958 826,902 1,653,804 211 465 676 1958
1959 847,135 1,694,270 280 805 1,085 1959
1960 866,115 1,732,230 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 310 862 1,172 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 1960
1961 890,158 1,780,316 396 745 1,141 1961
1962 928,341 1,856,682 514 807 1,321 1962
1963 937,516 1,875,032 571 830 1,401 1963
1964 963,130 1,926,260 673 1,027 1,700 1964
1965 954,852 1,909,704 950,696 1,901,392 1,067 3,089 4,156 8,312 1,905,548 843 1,128 1,971 121 158 279 64 1,592 1,656 39 211 250 0.44 0.22 25.7 74.3 0.3 1965
1966 940,120 1,880,240 936,144 1,872,288 1,056 2,920 3,976 7,952 1,876,264 846 1,108 1,954 115 166 281 43 1,433 1,476 52 213 265 0.42 0.21 26.6 73.4 0.4 1966
1967 953,096 1,906,192 948,611 1,897,222 1,348 3,137 4,485 8,970 1,901,707 1,097 1,157 2,254 139 175 314 53 1,555 1,608 59 250 309 0.47 0.24 30.1 69.9 0.4 1967
1968 956,312 1,912,624 951,528 1,903,056 1,460 3,324 4,784 9,568 1,907,840 1,124 1,258 2,382 176 208 384 53 1,600 1,653 107 258 365 0.50 0.25 30.5 69.5 0.4 1968
1969 984,142 1,968,284 979,063 1,958,126 1,719 3,360 5,079 10,158 1,963,205 1,284 1,168 2,452 206 194 400 80 1,734 1,814 149 264 413 0.52 0.26 33.8 66.2 0.5 1969
1970 1,029,405 2,058,810 1,023,859 2,047,718 2,108 3,438 5,546 11,092 2,053,264 1,536 1,386 2,922 280 195 475 @ @ @ @ @ @ 75 1,571 1,646 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 217 286 503 0.54 0.27 38.0 62.0 0.6 1970
1971 1,091,229 2,182,458 1,085,639 2,171,278 2,350 3,240 5,590 11,180 2,176,868 1,696 1,533 3,229 325 194 519 97 1,252 1,349 232 261 493 0.51 0.26 42.0 58.0 0.7 1971
1972 1,099,984 2,199,968 1,093,988 2,187,976 2,674 3,322 5,996 11,992 2,193,972 1,785 1,707 3,492 445 237 682 102 1,010 1,112 342 368 710 0.55 0.27 44.6 55.4 0.8 1972
1973 1,071,923 2,143,846 1,065,730 2,131,460 2,849 3,344 6,193 12,386 2,137,653 1,902 1,674 3,576 410 238 648 122 1,024 1,146 415 408 823 0.58 0.29 46.0 54.0 0.9 1973
1974 1,000,455 2,000,910 994,096 1,988,192 3,177 3,182 6,359 12,718 1,994,551 2,047 1,743 3,790 477 229 706 142 790 932 511 420 931 0.64 0.32 50.0 50.0 1.0 1974
1975 941,628 1,883,256 935,583 1,871,166 3,222 2,823 6,045 12,090 1,877,211 1,994 1,554 3,548 574 243 817 152 631 783 502 395 897 0.64 0.32 53.3 46.7 1.1 1975
1976 871,543 1,743,086 865,221 1,730,442 3,647 2,855 6,502 13,004 1,736,944 2,049 1,564 3,613 646 229 875 163 604 767 609 458 1,067 0.75 0.37 56.1 43.9 1.3 1976
1977 821,029 1,642,058 814,958 1,629,916 3,501 2,570 6,071 12,142 1,635,987 1,990 1,390 3,380 635 197 832 196 539 735 680 444 1,124 0.74 0.37 57.7 42.3 1.4 1977
1978 793,257 1,586,514 786,977 1,573,954 3,620 2,660 6,280 12,560 1,580,234 2,110 1,500 3,610 655 198 853 172 601 773 683 361 1,044 0.79 0.40 57.6 42.4 1.4 1978
1979 788,505 1,577,010 781,774 1,563,548 3,921 2,810 6,731 13,462 1,570,279 2,224 1,597 3,821 751 189 940 183 598 781 763 426 1,189 0.85 0.43 58.3 41.7 1.4 1979
1980 774,702 1,549,404 767,441 1,534,882 4,386 2,875 7,261 14,522 1,542,143 2,458 1,651 4,109 912 194 1,106 @ @ @ @ @ @ 178 625 803 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 838 405 1,243 0.94 0.47 60.4 39.6 1.5 1980
1981 776,531 1,553,062 768,774 1,537,548 4,813 2,944 7,757 15,514 1,545,305 2,585 1,638 4,223 1,032 235 1,267 219 630 849 977 441 1,418 1.00 0.50 62.0 38.0 1.6 1981
1982 781,252 1,562,504 772,296 1,544,592 5,697 3,259 8,956 17,912 1,553,548 2,903 1,809 4,712 1,345 285 1,630 225 665 890 1,224 500 1,724 1.15 0.58 63.6 36.4 1.7 1982
1983 762,552 1,525,104 752,101 1,504,202 7,000 3,451 10,451 20,902 1,514,653 3,391 1,901 5,292 1,864 296 2,160 269 734 1,003 1,476 520 1,996 1.37 0.69 67.0 33.0 2.0 1983
1984 739,991 1,479,982 729,483 1,458,966 6,828 3,680 10,508 21,016 1,469,474 3,209 2,021 5,230 1,704 300 2,004 234 751 985 1,681 608 2,289 1.42 0.72 65.0 35.0 1.9 1984
1985 735,850 1,471,700 723,669 1,447,338 7,738 4,443 12,181 24,362 1,459,519 3,622 2,525 6,147 1,766 380 2,146 254 876 1,130 2,096 662 2,758 1.66 0.83 63.5 36.5 1.7 1985
1986 710,962 1,421,924 698,433 1,396,866 8,255 4,274 12,529 25,058 1,409,395 3,515 2,330 5,845 1,841 349 2,190 218 896 1,114 2,681 699 3,380 1.76 0.89 65.9 34.1 1.9 1986
1987 696,173 1,392,346 681,589 1,363,178 10,176 4,408 14,584 29,168 1,377,762 4,405 2,365 6,770 1,977 432 2,409 235 947 1,182 3,559 664 4,223 2.09 1.06 69.8 30.2 2.3 1987
1988 707,716 1,415,432 690,844 1,381,688 12,267 4,605 16,872 33,744 1,398,560 5,063 2,535 7,598 2,234 431 2,665 234 888 1,122 4,736 751 5,487 2.38 1.21 72.7 27.3 2.7 1988
1989 708,316 1,416,632 685,473 1,370,946 17,800 5,043 22,843 45,686 1,393,789 7,685 2,589 10,274 3,291 614 3,905 211 946 1,157 6,613 894 7,507 3.22 1.64 77.9 22.1 3.5 1989
1990 722,138 1,444,276 696,512 1,393,024 20,026 5,600 25,626 51,252 1,418,650 8,940 2,721 11,661 3,614 708 4,322 @ @ @ @ @ @ 260 1,091 1,351 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 7,212 1,080 8,292 3.55 1.81 78.1 21.9 3.6 1990
1991 742,264 1,484,528 717,105 1,434,210 19,096 6,063 25,159 50,318 1,459,369 6,969 2,666 9,635 3,871 789 4,660 243 1,292 1,535 8,013 1,316 9,329 3.39 1.72 75.9 24.1 3.1 1991
1992 754,441 1,508,882 728,579 1,457,158 19,423 6,439 25,862 51,724 1,483,020 5,537 2,804 8,341 4,638 777 5,415 5,771 54 5,825 1,585 13 1,598 248 1,350 1,598 99 168 267 645 152 797 138 56 194 762 1,065 1,827 3.43 1.74 75.1 24.9 3.0 1992
1993 792,658 1,585,316 766,001 1,532,002 20,092 6,565 26,657 53,314 1,558,659 5,068 2,762 7,830 4,691 766 5,457 6,394 58 6,452 1,926 22 1,948 244 1,381 1,625 89 220 309 625 146 771 166 81 247 889 1,129 2,018 3.36 1.71 75.4 24.6 3.1 1993
1994 782,738 1,565,476 756,926 1,513,852 19,126 6,596 25,722 51,444 1,539,574 4,851 2,686 7,537 4,587 695 5,282 5,999 46 6,045 1,836 17 1,853 241 1,445 1,686 90 190 280 590 147 737 146 74 220 876 1,296 2,172 3.29 1.67 74.4 25.6 2.9 1994
1995 791,888 1,583,776 764,161 1,528,322 20,787 6,940 27,727 55,454 1,556,049 4,521 2,842 7,363 5,174 769 5,943 7,188 52 7,240 1,915 19 1,934 198 1,303 1,501 82 213 295 579 162 741 140 66 206 990 1,514 2,504 3.50 1.78 75.0 25.0 3.0 1995
1996 795,080 1,590,160 766,708 1,533,416 21,162 7,210 28,372 56,744 1,561,788 4,461 2,800 7,261 6,264 773 7,037 6,645 56 6,701 1,760 25 1,785 241 1,357 1,598 88 234 322 551 199 750 130 58 188 1,022 1,708 2,730 3.57 1.82 74.6 25.4 2.9 1996
1997 775,651 1,551,302 747,400 1,494,800 20,902 7,349 28,251 56,502 1,523,051 4,504 2,674 7,178 6,630 834 7,464 6,035 61 6,096 1,688 31 1,719 184 1,374 1,558 90 225 315 488 233 721 156 99 255 1,127 1,818 2,945 3.64 1.85 74.0 26.0 2.8 1997
1998 784,595 1,569,190 754,959 1,509,918 22,159 7,477 29,636 59,272 1,539,554 5,143 2,635 7,778 7,036 787 7,823 6,111 81 6,192 1,699 38 1,737 215 1,299 1,514 65 240 305 417 204 621 138 122 260 1,335 2,071 3,406 3.78 1.92 74.8 25.2 3.0 1998
1999 762,028 1,524,056 730,128 1,460,256 24,272 7,628 31,900 63,800 1,492,156 5,798 2,499 8,297 7,810 836 8,646 6,414 101 6,515 2,024 64 2,088 198 1,318 1,516 81 228 309 333 222 555 128 123 251 1,486 2,237 3,723 4.19 2.14 76.1 23.9 3.2 1999
2000 798,138 1,596,276 761,875 1,523,750 28,326 7,937 36,263 72,526 1,560,013 6,214 2,509 8,723 9,884 878 10,762 7,519 109 7,628 2,137 67 2,204 202 1,483 1,685 76 249 325 357 279 636 145 124 269 1,792 2,239 4,031 4.54 2.32 78.1 21.9 3.6 2000
2001 799,999 1,599,998 760,272 1,520,544 31,972 7,755 39,727 79,454 1,560,271 6,188 2,477 8,665 13,936 793 14,729 7,160 83 7,243 1,840 55 1,895 175 1,416 1,591 93 267 360 347 243 590 142 135 277 2,091 2,286 4,377 4.97 2.55 80.5 19.5 4.1 2001
2002 757,331 1,514,662 721,452 1,442,904 27,957 7,922 35,879 71,758 1,478,783 5,353 2,379 7,732 10,750 814 11,564 7,630 104 7,734 1,536 45 1,581 163 1,488 1,651 85 317 402 284 231 515 126 137 263 2,030 2,407 4,437 4.74 2.43 77.9 22.1 3.5 2002
2003 740,191 1,480,382 704,152 1,408,304 27,881 8,158 36,039 72,078 1,444,343 5,318 2,235 7,553 10,242 890 11,132 7,794 117 7,911 1,445 62 1,507 156 1,529 1,685 65 334 399 295 265 560 139 125 264 2,427 2,601 5,028 4.87 2.50 77.4 22.6 3.4 2003
2004 720,417 1,440,834 680,906 1,361,812 30,907 8,604 39,511 79,022 1,401,323 5,730 2,293 8,023 11,915 1,104 13,019 8,397 120 8,517 1,640 75 1,715 179 1,500 1,679 64 339 403 256 268 524 137 122 259 2,589 2,783 5,372 5.48 2.82 78.2 21.8 3.6 2004
Notes Until 1991, the nationality breakdown included only Japan, Kankoku/Chosen [Korea], Chugoku [China], USA, and Others.
Since 1992, the nationality breakdown has also included the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Peru, and the United Kingdom.
Sources Primary figures from various Ministry of Health and Welfare / Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare publications and web databases.
Many of the sub-totals and totals, and all of the percents and ratios, have been computed by William Wetherall.