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Unemployment a factor in deferred Okinawa marriages

Date Posted: 2009-12-31

Okinawans are getting married later in life, or even remaining unmarried, at rates higher than those on the mainland.

National Census returns show Okinawans used to get married in their early 20’s, but not anymore. In fact, 22.29% of Okinawan men are still not married at age 50, while 9.73% of Okinawan women are not married. Those ages 20-34 are staying single at a higher rate, with men holding off the wedding bells 65.8% of the time, while women in the same age group are only marrying at a 45% pace.

Vendors and bridal consultants say “because Okinawa has more unemployed people, 7.5% which is higher than mainland Japan, women are holding off while looking for men with high incomes.” The bridal consultants say women also don’t want to marry an oldest son because tradition means the oldest son and his family must take good care of the Buddhist family altar and all of the husband’s family.”

Government officials say they’re concerned about the trends, because they impact birth rates. Birthrates on Okinawa are still higher than in mainland Japan, but officials fear the decreased number of marriages, and those who marry later in life, could skew Okinawa’s birthrate.

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