Intermarriage and children

Japanese born to parents of different nationalities

Two percent have one Japanese and one foreign parent

By William Wetherall

First drafted 16 March 2006
First posted 10 September 2010
Last updated 15 September 2010


Annual vital statistics cross-tabulate births registered in Japan in numerous ways. There are different sets of data for children born in Japan as Japanese, children born in Japan as aliens, and children born overseas as Japanese.

The figures shown here are for children born in Japan, who are registered as Japanese, by the nationalities of their parents -- both Japanese, or one Japanese and the other non-Japanese. These are strictly civil statuses based on legal affiliation.

The so-called "legitimacy" of a child -- i.e., wether it's mother is legally married -- is not an issue. All children registered as Japanese are included. Presumably the "Other" category includes also the few cases in which a child has been registered as Japanese because both it its parents are stateless, or because neither of its parents are known.

The figures exclude late registrations -- i.e., children whose births in Japan in a given year registered too late to be included in the counts for that year. Such figures, like those for foreigners in Japan, and for Japanese overseas, are tabulated and reported in separate tables. The figures also, of course, exclude unregistered children, who do not yet legally exist.

More Japanese children with foreign mothers

The variations in percents and ratios by nationality of the foreign parent reflect patterns of intermarriage, which in turn reflect the composition and other characteristics of the alien population in Japan and its relationship with the Japanese population.

Ratio of foreign mothers to foreign fathers

In the first (general) table, the ratio of Japanese children with foreign mothers to those with foreign fathers, climbed to a peak in 1995 or so, since when it has been falling. Still, throughout the period shown, a child with one Japanese and one foreign parent is more likely to have a foreign mother.

This, being a global ratio, does not reflect the trends of any particular mix of nationality. The breakdowns on marriages by nationality mixture (see Japanese intermarriages) show that the peaks in the numbers of marriages between Japanese and various nationals are somewhat scattered. The ratio is, of course, skewed by nationality mixtures with larger numbers.

Ratio of foreign fathers to foreign mothers

The inverse ratio -- i.e., the ratio of Japanese children with foreign fathers to those with foreign mothers -- has been computed for each tabulated nationality in the last table.

Three extremes are evident in ratios for Japanese children with a Korean, Filipino, or American parent.

Japanese children with a Korean parent

Since 1987, the ratio of Japanese children with Korean mothers to those with Korean fathers has gradually moved from slightly under 1.0 to slighly over 1.0 -- which cannot be accurately interpreted without analyzing other factors. In principle, the ratio would be about 1.0 -- if the Korean and Japanese populations have the same gender and age distributions, the same likelihoods of intermarriage, and the same fertility rates -- and if such variables have been fairly stable over a period of years.

However, this is a good example of why global ratios, which reflect complex conditions, cannot be taken at face value. The intermarriage figures for Koreans in Japan (see Korean intermarriages) clearly show that the ratio of Korean men to Korean women marrying Japanese fell from the 2.5 level in the mid 1950s, through the 1.0 level by the end of the 1960s, and to the 0.5 level by the late 1980s when the figures shown here begin, and have since fluxuated slightly below this level.

The explanation of the gap between the two ratios -- roughly 0.5 for the ratio of Korean men to Korean women marrying Japanese, and roughly 1.0 (instead of 0.5 or so) for the ratio of children with Korean fathers to those with Korean mothers married to Japanese -- probably lies in different fertility rates. Apart from physiological factors, fertility rates will involve mainly attitudes toward marriage and family. These attitudes may reflect differences in the nature of the coupling -- whether between Korean natives of Japan, or between migrant Koreans and Japanese.

Japanese children with a Filipino or Thai parent

Since 1987, the ratio of Japanese children with Filipino fathers to those with Filipino mothers has climbed from over 0.01 to more than 0.04 -- meaning the odds that such a child will have a Filipino father. The equivalent father/mother ratio has run from under 100 to less than 25 -- meaning, inversely, the odds that the child will have a Filipino mother.

While the Filipino population in Japan includes older and even native components, it is more clearly composed of recent migrants, predominately women who have come with the explit purpose of marrying a Japanese man. The Philippines has, in fact, been a major source of foreign brides for rural Japanese men, and not such marriages have been arranged, if not legally established, in advance of the woman's coming to Japan.

Note that the lower father/mother ratio (higher mother/father ratio) for Thais has also fallen during the same period and for the essentially same reason. The international bride market seems to have peaked for Thai women in 2000 and for Filipino women in 2006.

Japanese children with a Chinese parent

The ratios for Japanese children with a Chinese parent also suggest greater likelihoods of having a Chinese mother. They, like ratios for Japanese Children with a Korean parent, have been fairly stable over the past two decades, but at a level hovering around 0.3 for the father/mother ratio and 3.3 for the inverse mother/father ratio.

The 3.3 mother/father ratio stands against a roughly 10-times greater number marriages between Chinese women and Japanese men than between Chinese men and Japanese women -- unlike Korean-Japanese marriages, which are about the same either way.

I suspect that significantly more Chinese wives of Japanese men are naturalizing soon after their marriage, hence their children would be registered as born to a Japanese mother and father.

Japanese children with a Brazilian or Peruvian parent

The ratios for Japanese children with a Brazilian or Peruvian parent have shifted from the odds of having a foreign mother to the odds of having a foreign father. The Brazilian figures have to be understood against the conspicuous reversal, during the same period, of higher numbers of Brazilian women marrying Japanese, to slightly higher numbers of Brazilian men marrying Japanese.

Interestingly, the Peruvian ratios show a slightly greater tendency than the Brazilian ratios for the father to be a foreigner. Again, this difference is a superficial artifact of the conspiracy of underlying dynamics that would have to be examined through other data.

Japanese children with an American parent

Of interest here is the extremely low ratio of Japanese children with American mothers to those with American fathers -- meaning a very high ratio of American fathers to American mothers of Japanese children. These ratios are most likely a fairly direct reflection of the much greater numbers of marriages between American men and Japanese women.

However -- whereas there has been a roughly 7-fold greater number of American men marrying Japanese women than American women marrying Japanese men, about 14-times as many Japanese are born with American fathers than with American mothers. Again -- as with above comparisons of these two ratios -- the ratios cannot be directly compared, as they are not of the same statistical quality -- i.e., they are based on different populations.

Non-Japanese children born in Japan

There are, of course, alien children born in Japan to parents of the same or different foreign nationalities. These children number RESUME REVISE WITH RESPECT TO OVERSEAS REMARKS

Japanese children born overseas

Forthcoming.

Japanese children born in Japan
By nationalities of parents, 1987-2010
Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, American, British, Brazilian, Peruvian, and Other
Compiled, computed, and designed by William Wetherall
Number of Japanese children born in Japan Percent of Japanese children born in Japan Ratio
Total Total Total Japanese Japanese Total Total Total Japanese Japanese Japanese
Both/One Both One father mother Both/One Both One father mother children
parents parents parent Foreign Foreign parents parents parent Foreign Foreign For moth/
Japanese Japanese Japanese mother father Japanese Japanese Japanese mother father For fath
t = b+o bj oj = jf+jm jf jm 100 t/t 100 bj/t 100 oj/t 100 jf/oj 100 jm/oj jf/jm
1987 1,346,658 1,336,636 10,022 5,538 4,484 100.0 99.26 0.74 55.26 44.74 1.24 1987
1988 1988
1989 1989
1990 1,221,585 1,207,899 13,686 8,695 4,991 100.0 98.88 1.12 63.53 36.47 1.74 1990
1991 1991
1992 1992
1993 1993
1994 1,238,328 1,217,952 20,376 13,414 6,962 100.0 98.35 1.65 65.83 34.17 1.93 1994
1995 1,187,064 1,166,810 20,254 13,371 6,883 100.0 98.29 1.71 66.02 33.98 1.94 1995
1996 1,206,555 1,185,491 21,064 13,752 7,312 100.0 98.25 1.75 65.29 34.71 1.88 1996
1997 1,191,665 1,170,140 21,525 13,580 7,945 100.0 98.19 1.81 63.09 36.91 1.71 1997
1998 1,203,147 1,181,126 22,021 13,635 8,386 100.0 98.17 1.83 61.92 38.08 1.63 1998
1999 1,177,669 1,156,205 21,464 13,004 8,460 100.0 98.18 1.82 60.59 39.41 1.54 1999
2000 1,190,547 1,168,210 22,337 13,396 8,941 100.0 98.12 1.88 59.97 40.03 1.50 2000
2001 1,170,662 1,148,486 22,176 13,177 8,999 100.0 98.11 1.89 59.42 40.58 1.46 2001
2002 1,153,855 1,131,604 22,251 13,294 8,957 100.0 98.07 1.93 59.75 40.25 1.48 2002
2003 1,123,610 1,102,088 21,522 12,690 8,832 100.0 98.08 1.92 58.96 41.04 1.44 2003
2004 1,110,721 1,088,548 22,173 13,198 8,975 100.0 98.00 2.00 59.52 40.48 1.47 2004
2005 1,062,530 1,040,657 21,873 12,872 9,001 100.0 97.94 2.06 58.85 41.15 1.43 2005
2006 1,092,674 1,069,211 23,463 14,040 9,423 100.0 97.85 2.15 59.84 40.16 1.49 2006
2007 1,089,818 1,065,641 24,177 14,474 9,703 100.0 97.78 2.22 59.87 40.13 1.49 2007
2008 1,091,156 1,067,200 23,956 13,782 10,174 100.0 97.80 2.20 57.53 42.47 1.35 2008
2009 1,070,035 1,047,524 22,511 12,707 9,804 100.0 97.90 2.10 56.45 43.55 1.30 2009
2010 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 2010
Sources Compiled from Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare printed and web versions of annual vital statistics reports.
Notes Number of children whose mothers are Japanese include those born out of wedlock under Japanese law.
Nationality breakdowns for Philippines, Thailand, United Kingdom, Brazil, and Peru begin from 1992.
Figures for parents who are nationals of these countries included in "Other" through 1991.
All percents, and totals and ratios for foreign nationality parents, are my computations.
Total Number of Japanese children with Japanese parent and foreign parent @ @ @
One @ Nationality of foreign parent of child of Japanese parent @ @ @
parent @ Kankoku @ Philip- @ @ United @ @ @
Japanese Total Chosen Chugoku pines Thailand USA Kingdom Brazil Peru Other
@
1987 10,022 5,889 1,090 - - 829 - - - 2,214 1987
1988 @ 1988
1989 @ 1989
1990 13,686 6,232 1,639 - - 990 - - - 4,825 1990
1991 @ 1991
1992 @ 1992
1993 @ 1993
1994 20,376 7,385 2,873 5,422 782 1,393 238 506 134 1,643 1994
1995 20,254 6,800 2,960 5,571 873 1,349 238 536 181 1,746 1995
1996 21,064 6,968 3,054 5,639 861 1,414 291 604 173 2,060 1996
1997 21,525 6,909 3,439 5,303 911 1,518 268 637 195 2,345 1997
1998 22,021 6,918 3,556 5,263 910 1,521 277 679 199 2,698 1998
1999 21,464 6,687 3,619 4,783 885 1,511 304 599 256 2,820 1999
2000 22,337 6,772 3,953 4,856 813 1,522 307 702 220 3,192 2000
2001 22,176 6,641 3,876 4,724 807 1,544 351 633 257 3,343 2001
2002 22,251 6,318 4,199 4,682 752 1,583 335 606 254 3,522 2002
2003 21,522 5,876 3,966 4,439 710 1,626 384 594 233 3,694 2003
2004 22,173 5,540 4,383 4,701 656 1,690 357 652 265 3,929 2004
2005 21,873 5,187 4,430 4,572 598 1,669 387 562 249 4,219 2005
2006 23,463 5,273 4,874 5,143 587 1,765 413 590 240 4,578 2006
2007 24,177 5,209 5,411 5,295 612 1,774 404 657 239 4,576 2007
2008 23,956 4,993 5,424 4,789 537 1,903 520 651 242 4,897 2008
2009 22,511 4,828 5,329 3,983 509 1,756 465 609 221 4,811 2009
2010 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 2010
Japanese Number of Japanese children with Japanese father and foreign mother @ @ @
father @ Nationality of foreign mother of child of Japanese father @ @ @
Foreign @ Kankoku @ Philip- @ @ United @ @ @
mother Total Chosen Chugoku pines Thailand USA Kingdom Brazil Peru Other
@
1987 5,538 2,850 803 - - 188 - - - 1,697 1987
1988 @ 1988
1989 @ 1989
1990 8,695 3,184 1,264 - - 161 - - - 4,086 1990
1991 @ 1991
1992 @ 1992
1993 @ 1993
1994 13,414 3,736 2,222 5,351 748 212 61 381 84 619 1994
1995 13,371 3,519 2,244 5,488 851 178 55 406 105 525 1995
1996 13,752 3,550 2,376 5,551 827 202 87 439 109 611 1996
1997 13,580 3,440 2,667 5,203 859 165 56 430 111 649 1997
1998 13,635 3,389 2,734 5,137 852 165 73 429 106 750 1998
1999 13,004 3,208 2,850 4,645 836 150 59 358 116 782 1999
2000 13,396 3,345 3,040 4,705 736 142 51 397 85 895 2000
2001 13,177 3,204 3,056 4,586 742 142 55 339 112 941 2001
2002 13,294 3,141 3,338 4,539 670 132 62 309 109 994 2002
2003 12,690 2,911 3,133 4,309 638 146 66 289 96 1,102 2003
2004 13,198 2,749 3,510 4,558 579 131 50 290 105 1,226 2004
2005 12,872 2,583 3,478 4,441 509 122 47 217 92 1,383 2005
2006 14,040 2,593 3,925 4,998 512 130 51 256 99 1,476 2006
2007 14,474 2,530 4,271 5,140 507 141 53 268 98 1,466 2007
2008 13,782 2,439 4,203 4,623 446 124 62 249 84 1,552 2008
2009 12,707 2,285 4,209 3,815 427 116 45 235 93 1,482 2009
2010 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 2010
Japanese Number of Japanese children with Japanese mother and foreign father @ @ @
mother @ Nationality of foreign father of child of Japanese mother @ @ @
Foreign @ Kankoku @ Philip- @ @ United @ @ @
father Total Chosen Chugoku pines Thailand USA Kingdom Brazil Peru Other
@
1987 4,484 3,039 287 - - 641 - - - 517 1987
1988 @ 1988
1989 @ 1989
1990 4,991 3,048 375 - - 829 - - - 739 1990
1991 @ 1991
1992 @ 1992
1993 @ 1993
1994 6,962 3,649 651 71 34 1,181 177 125 50 1,024 1994
1995 6,883 3,281 716 83 22 1,171 183 130 76 1,221 1995
1996 7,312 3,418 678 88 34 1,212 204 165 64 1,449 1996
1997 7,945 3,469 772 100 52 1,353 212 207 84 1,696 1997
1998 8,386 3,529 822 126 58 1,356 204 250 93 1,948 1998
1999 8,460 3,479 769 138 49 1,361 245 241 140 2,038 1999
2000 8,941 3,427 913 151 77 1,380 256 305 135 2,297 2000
2001 8,999 3,437 820 138 65 1,402 296 294 145 2,402 2001
2002 8,957 3,177 861 143 82 1,451 273 297 145 2,528 2002
2003 8,832 2,965 833 130 72 1,480 318 305 137 2,592 2003
2004 8,975 2,791 873 143 77 1,559 307 362 160 2,703 2004
2005 9,001 2,604 952 131 89 1,547 340 345 157 2,836 2005
2006 9,423 2,680 949 145 75 1,635 362 334 141 3,102 2006
2007 9,703 2,679 1,140 155 105 1,633 351 389 141 3,110 2007
2008 10,174 2,554 1,221 166 91 1,779 458 402 158 3,345 2008
2009 9,804 2,543 1,120 168 82 1,640 420 374 128 3,329 2009
2010 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 2010
Total Percent of Japanese children with Japanese parent and foreign parent @ @ @
One @ Nationality of foreign parent of child of Japanese parent @ @ @
parent @ Kankoku @ Philip- @ @ United @ @ @
Japanese Total Chosen Chugoku pines Thailand USA Kingdom Brazil Peru Other
@
1987 100.0 58.8 10.9 - - 8.3 - - - 22.1 1987
1988 @ 1988
1989 @ 1989
1990 100.0 45.5 12.0 - - 7.2 - - - 35.3 1990
1991 @ 1991
1992 @ 1992
1993 @ 1993
1994 100.0 36.2 14.1 26.6 3.8 6.8 1.2 2.5 0.7 8.1 1994
1995 100.0 33.6 14.6 27.5 4.3 6.7 1.2 2.6 0.9 8.6 1995
1996 100.0 33.1 14.5 26.8 4.1 6.7 1.4 2.9 0.8 9.8 1996
1997 100.0 32.1 16.0 24.6 4.2 7.1 1.2 3.0 0.9 10.9 1997
1998 100.0 31.4 16.1 23.9 4.1 6.9 1.3 3.1 0.9 12.3 1998
1999 100.0 31.2 16.9 22.3 4.1 7.0 1.4 2.8 1.2 13.1 1999
2000 100.0 30.3 17.7 21.7 3.6 6.8 1.4 3.1 1.0 14.3 2000
2001 100.0 29.9 17.5 21.3 3.6 7.0 1.6 2.9 1.2 15.1 2001
2002 100.0 28.4 18.9 21.0 3.4 7.1 1.5 2.7 1.1 15.8 2002
2003 100.0 27.3 18.4 20.6 3.3 7.6 1.8 2.8 1.1 17.2 2003
2004 100.0 25.0 19.8 21.2 3.0 7.6 1.6 2.9 1.2 17.7 2004
2005 100.0 23.7 20.3 20.9 2.7 7.6 1.8 2.6 1.1 19.3 2005
2006 100.0 22.5 20.8 21.9 2.5 7.5 1.8 2.5 1.0 19.5 2006
2007 100.0 21.5 22.4 21.9 2.5 7.3 1.7 2.7 1.0 18.9 2007
2008 100.0 20.8 22.6 20.0 2.2 7.9 2.2 2.7 1.0 20.4 2008
2009 100.0 21.4 23.7 17.7 2.3 7.8 2.1 2.7 1.0 21.4 2009
2010 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 2010
Total Ratio of Japanese children with foreign mother to those with foreign father @ @
One @ Nationality of foreign parent of child of Japanese parent @ @ @
parent @ Kankoku @ Philip- @ @ United @ @ @
Japanese Total Chosen Chugoku pines Thailand USA Kingdom Brazil Peru Other
@
1987 1.24 0.94 2.8 - - 0.29 - - - 3.28 1987
1988 @ 1988
1989 @ 1989
1990 1.74 1.04 3.4 - - 0.19 - - - 5.53 1990
1991 @ 1991
1992 @ 1992
1993 @ 1993
1994 1.93 1.02 3.4 75.4 22.0 0.18 0.34 3.05 1.68 0.60 1994
1995 1.94 1.07 3.1 66.1 38.7 0.15 0.30 3.12 1.38 0.43 1995
1996 1.88 1.04 3.5 63.1 24.3 0.17 0.43 2.66 1.70 0.42 1996
1997 1.71 0.99 3.5 52.0 16.5 0.12 0.26 2.08 1.32 0.38 1997
1998 1.63 0.96 3.3 40.8 14.7 0.12 0.36 1.72 1.14 0.39 1998
1999 1.54 0.92 3.7 33.7 17.1 0.11 0.24 1.49 0.83 0.38 1999
2000 1.50 0.98 3.3 31.2 9.6 0.10 0.20 1.30 0.63 0.39 2000
2001 1.46 0.93 3.7 33.2 11.4 0.10 0.19 1.15 0.77 0.39 2001
2002 1.48 0.99 3.9 31.7 8.2 0.09 0.23 1.04 0.75 0.39 2002
2003 1.44 0.98 3.8 33.1 8.9 0.10 0.21 0.95 0.70 0.43 2003
2004 1.47 0.98 4.0 31.9 7.5 0.08 0.16 0.80 0.66 0.45 2004
2005 1.43 0.99 3.7 33.9 5.7 0.08 0.14 0.63 0.59 0.49 2005
2006 1.49 0.97 4.1 34.5 6.8 0.08 0.14 0.77 0.70 0.48 2006
2007 1.49 0.94 3.7 33.2 4.8 0.09 0.15 0.69 0.70 0.47 2007
2008 1.35 0.95 3.4 27.8 4.9 0.07 0.14 0.62 0.53 0.46 2008
2009 1.30 0.90 3.8 22.7 5.2 0.07 0.11 0.63 0.73 0.45 2009
2010 @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ 2010