Many studies indicated that over the past two decades, there has been
changed in attitudes toward marriage among women in Asian countries.
The proportion of women remaining single in their 30s and 40s in many
Asian countries, especially in their big cities has been increased
(Jones, 2002; Tsuya 2001). In Japan, since 1970s there has been a drastic
drop in fertility, as well as a sharp decrease in the married population.
The total fertility rate (TFR) reached its lowest point in 2001, at 1.33.
While the age at first marriage increased from 24.7 for female and 27.5
for male in 1970 to 28.6 and 30.8 in 2000 respectively. The proportion
of never marriage women age 40-45 rose from 5.3 per cent in 1970 to
8.6 per cent in 2000.
It is argued that the main reason for fertility decline in Japan was the rise
in the proportion never married women in their reproductive years.
In addition, delayed marriage poses challenges to traditional culture,
to relationships within family and to aspects of social policies.
These include the changing value and purpose of marriage, women`s roles,
life style and norms of appropriate women`s behaviors.
This study focuses on the changing attitude toward marriage among never
marriage women in Japan. It assesses the trends, life style, socio-cultural
aspects supporting delayed marriage and policy issues resulting from the
trends in delayed marriage. Information for this study mainly derived from
review of literatures and in-depth interviews with Japanese never married
women aged 35-45 years and experts on gender and marriage issues in Japan.