Categories College Essays

Major Causes of Divorce: Japan Gaining on USA and Canada 2005 – 2020

By December 2012, the difference in divorce rates between the USA and Japan was the difference between 3.4 to 1.99, or only 1.41 per 1,000 population.

The rate decreased faster in America than it increased in Japan. One theory is that the Great Recession of 2008 – 2010 forced couples to stay together in order to survive financially. However, the American decrease began back in 1990 (see graph below).

The Japanese rate began rising in 1988, as young working adult women began to decide to put off marriage to somewhat later years, if at all, revolting against tradition.

Japan experiences a continually declining birth rate, an increasing elderly population, and one of the lowest fertility rates globally.

The US rate decreased and Japanese rate increased

  • USA = 3.4 per 1000, reduced from 4.5
  • JAPAN = 2.1 per 1000, increased from 1.9

The divorce rate in America began to rise again with economic recovery after the Great Recession of 2008 – 2010.

Divorce Rates of 2015

  • United States: 3.6 per 1,000 (small increase)
  • Japan: 1.84 per 1,000 (slight decrease)

Reference: January 1, 2011. AP News Service; Japan People 2011, CIA World Factbook.

Japanese Baby Boomers are retiring, leaving fewer taxpayers to replace them. Japan reports some of the highest life expectancies globally, but low birth rates.

There were 1.19 million Japanese deaths in 2010, the most since 1947 when the records started. Japan is almost at Zero Population growth. In fact, in 2010, deaths outnumbered births by over 1.0 per 1,000 people.

The July 2010 Japanese population estimate/extrapolation = 126,804,433. This would be the 10th largest national population in the world.

  • In 2010, Japan reduced by 123,000 people, losing population numbers also in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and others. The divorce rate already doubled from 1990 – 2000 as well.
  • Age 65+ = 25% of Japan’s population in December 2010. Younger people are putting off marriage and children. [My note: Author: In fact, young women in 1980s’ Japan began to rebel against marriage and children, a trend that has extended 30 years. Japan is becoming a kind of nation of Senior Citizens.]
  • The year 2010 showed 706,000 recorded marriages, the lowest figure since 1954. Unwed pregnancies are an insignificant number, so fewer marriages = fewer children = fewer Japanese.

The above graph shows that American divorces decreased toward 2002, while Japanese divorces increased. Will they meet in the middle around 2010?Not quite, but the gap is narrowing and in 2007 was only a difference of 2.3 divorces per 1,000 population.

So many divorces occur in Japan that divorce ceremonies are offered, beginning in 2010 (Reference: Mark Willacy. Divorce ceremonies take off in Japan. ABC Radio Australia. January 12, 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2016).

In order for a marriage relationship to succeed, I believe that there must be a foundation upon which partners build a relationship. They do this over time with experiences that add something to the foundation rather than to destroy it. These experiences should not be a temporary tap dance across a foundation that is used as a steppingstone to other people and other tap dances.

A marriage foundation, in my mind, includes one or both of these:

  • A common set of core values between the partners, or at least several shared values; or,
  • A set of interests and passions that can join the partners together long term.

In my experience as a counselor and therapist, the largest two causes of divorce among the people I have seen have been:

  • A lack of foundation for the marriage, such as common beliefs and interests, similar life missions and visions, compatible goals, etc.; and
  • Abuse, including any of verbal, emotional, physical, economic, religious, and sexual abuses.

In 18th and 19th century America, and well into the 20th century, people did not often marry for love, faith-based foundations, or mutual interests. They married to join good families, to produce heirs, and to have children to work on the family farm. They often married fro survival, especially among the pioneers blazing trails to the American West.

To be sure, some people married for love, and some arranged marriages saw the partners come to love each other. However, this may not have been the usual pattern. Survival and the drive to reproduce are extremely strong; otherwise, the human race would become extinct.

As women began entering the professionals, obtaining the right to vote, etc., they expanded their mental horizons, some deciding that they could live without dependence upon a husband or their fathers as a breadwinner. During World War II, American women went to work in the jobs men had left behind when they entered the armed services.

After WWII, some women did not want to return to the roles of homemaker or mother. This may be one of the reasons that there were so many educational (or propaganda) films made in the 1950s that encouraged young women to accept the role of homemaker and to follow the etiquette of service to a husband.

At the same time, I never heard a good answer offered as to what a woman that has no family at all should do, instead of work and become successful.

We have many women living alone in an American society that has become more fragmented since the 1960s. Women can earn a living and support themselves without entering domestic jobs. Men can live alone and be happy dating, eating out, and sending their clothes to the cleaner, employing maid services, etc. – why can;t women?

Marriage becomes more of a choice, instead a matter of survival in today’s America, although some individuals of both genders still marry in order to survive or for convenience.

I hear many people saying they married because they wanted to “be with” the other person. I don’t think that is enough for a marriage. Some of these individuals become bored with their partners, but are also offended if their spouse forms a romantic relationship with someone else. These marriages may more about ownership, self-importance, fun or entertainment than about a healthy relationship.

In the 21st century, more people have the opportunity to openly define their own marriages and partner relationships than in the past centuries. I think they need to have some agreed-upon commonalities in order for these relationships to succeed.

I have seen an initial movement toward establishing the 3- or 5-year marriage contract, especially among science fiction fans. Science fiction has shown us a future world in which no marries or in which marriage is by short-term contract only.

Science fiction can become fact, although some might prefer a life-long marriage built on love and a faith-based foundation, but that model does not suit all people. Commonality and agreement between the partners entering marriages and partnerships remain vital for success.

1) “Unwillingness to communicate lovingly”

To me, this means that verbal abuse is present — It means that the partners should plan and develop their life together in a positive way. An unwillingness even to communicate in a functional, non-abusive manner is a big red flag for serious problems because many forms of abuse begin with verbal.

2) “Unwillingness to commit”

The leadership of eHarmony says this is the acceptance of the marriage vows as life-long and permanent, except in cases of infidelity and abuse. In my experience, many people can forgive infidelity and move on. However, abuse is the deal breaker. Few abusers change for the good, as I learned in private and public practice 1983 – 2005.

3) “Unwillingness to compromise”

Compromise is hard. I think the couple should agree on major life components before marriage: finances, children, etc.

Example: I knew one family in which the wife stopped using birth control without the husband’s knowledge and became pregnant purposely. What resulted over the next 10 years was that horrible abuse to the younger son could no longer be concealed when he abused the younger sibling. I had nightmares about this one.

4) “Unwillingness to put down weapons”

Some partners try to hurt the other partner in order to raise themselves up. This is not a marriage, but it is selfish and it is abuse. Partners need to fight fairly and move on after the fight and not dig it up again.

These reasons are often heard from couples, but they are not proven statistically significant as yet. There are some similarities to those gathered by eHarmony:

  1. Money
  2. Poor Communication
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Change in Priorities
  5. Infidelity
  6. Failed Expectations
  7. Addictions
  8. Physical, Sexual, Emotional and other Abuse
  9. Lack of Conflict Resolution Skills

The relationship between a number of factors (religion, occupation, age, etc.) can be found on their website at

Escalating Abuse in America

Abuse is a scourge in America. Increasing numbers of men and women are admitting that their partners are abusing them, often extremely, and seeking help.

No form of abuse is ever appropriate. Receiving abuse is never the victim’s fault, although targets need to learn about abuse and actively avoid people that show red flags of it. Recognizing abuse should be taught to all children beginning in elementary school.

Abuse often does not show itself until after a marriage has occurred, because the abusing person was on good behavior in order to lure a target into a more permanent relationship. From this relationship, the abuser exerts control in order to feel better about himself or herself.

Abusers are sometimes diagnosed psychiatric disorders and many of these labels overlap. Some victims become addicted to discussing these psychiatric disorders, staying with the abuser and discussing symptoms with all who will listen. Co-Occurring Disorders (substance or alcohol abuse combined with at least one other major disorder) are common and a target of abuse cannot cure the abuser of them. In fact, some targets die of abuse.

As increasing numbers of individuals are educated about our national public health problem of abuse, then abuse may become listed among the top five reasons for divorce in America.


  • Divorce in Japan. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  • Nagoya International Center. Getting Divorced in Japan. Retrieved September 5, 2018.