Average Age of Marriage In Japan vs The World

It is no secret that millennials are approaching marriage differently. And it seems that the average marriage age in the most developed country including Japan has experienced an increase. But can the average marriage age in Japan be even later than in the United States or South Korea? The answer will be in the latter part of this article based on the data of the United Nations. Before that, let’s have a look at some marriage trends in Japan to understand “the reason”.

1. Marriage Trend in Japan

1.1 Less Marriage

Even though the majority of Japanese lean towards the idea of family and 90% of unmarried people have the plan to marry one day, the number of marriages experienced a constant decline since the peak of 1.1 million in 1972. In 2019, the figure dropped to only 598,965, according to the statistíc from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

Male and female middle-aged millennium who had never married will respectively reach 29% and 19.2% by 2035.


The one-person household became trendy among young people in the 1980s in coincidence with the economic bubble. Those singles now have turned 50, 60, and still have never married. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare also estimate that the percentage of the male and female middle-aged millennium who had never married will respectively reach 29% and 19.2% by 2035. A recent survey conducted by Japanese magazine Joshi Spa! supports a similar result. 35.5% of 37,0000 participants think that there is no benefit to tie the knot. These people are mainly between the age of 30 to 40.


As we mentioned above, this trend started during the financial crisis, when companies have to lay off regular employees and recruit temporary or part-time contract workers instead. According to the Labor Ministry, these contract employees get paid approximately 53% less monthly and are seven times more likely to suffer from poverty. That is understandable that half of the men in this group hesitate or even refuse to marry.

The lack of financial stability and workplace dynamics make young people less fond of getting married.

To adjust to the economic and social situation, many Japanese turn their focus on careers. At the same time, the lack of financial stability and workplace dynamics make them less fond of getting married. Even if they want, it is too financially demanding for young Japanese couples back then to build a conventional family.

A controversial survey by Japan Family Planning Association and the Cabinet Office also blames the decrease in marriage on the loss of interest in dating or sexual intercourse, especially among young men.

1.2 Later Marriage

Japanese nowadays tend to get married 5 to 10 years later than they did in 1970s when the average age of marriage was 25 to 27. Women experience the more dramatic change as they used to marry around 23 to 26 back 40 years ago or later but most refuse marriage at least until they reach 27 years old. Many do prefer even later marriage at 29.6 or more. Some choose to remain single forever to maintain their freedom and autonomy, which used to be really rare in old days.

The average marriage age in Japan (first marriage)


The main reason for the shift in women’s marriage age is due to social integration and the feminist movement. Women have a more equal chance to access formal education and professional workplaces. In 2010, the percentage of women continue the study to universities or junior colleges (55.9%) even exceeded that of men (52.7%). Since women in Japan have become highly educated and financially independent, their life goal is not around the concept of marriage anymore. Furthermore, at the early stage of career, it is impossible to keep a balance between work and family, so delaying the marriage is the only choice.

Since women in Japan have become highly educated and financially independent, their life goal is not around the concept of marriage anymore.

“Parasite singles” is another possible factor contributing to the later marriage age. The term refers to people aged between 20 and 40 who live with their parents to save money. The rising age at first marriage can be also explained by family planning policy.

2.Average Age of Marriage in Japan Compared to The World

Japanese men and women typically marry at respectively 29.3 and 30.9

According to The United Nations data from asking 5 million people all around the world, Japan is among the countries with the highest average marriage age. Japanese men and women typically marry at respectively 29.3 and 30.9. The figures are higher than those of America (approx. 28) but lower than those of South Korean (30.4 and 31.8). While in most nations, men typically get married much later up to 10 years (for instance in India), the age gap between males and females in Japan is really small (1.3 years).

Japanese regulate the minimum marriage age is 18 for males and 16 for females. But 40% of Japanese women and 66% of men are single in this age range (27 to 29 years old). Between 30 and 34, still 42% of men haven’t married yet.


What is the traditionally appropriate marriage age of women in Japan in the past?

In the past, women have to marry before they reach 25, or else they will be “Christmas cakes”. Christmas cakes are the cakes no one wants or eats after December 25.

What are the legal age requirements to marry in Japan?

As we mentioned above, the groom must be at least 18 years old and the bride must be at least 16 years old. However, both the male and female partners under 20 years old must get the approval of one of the parents to get married. In case, you are a foreigner, Japanese authority also take into account the regulation from your home country or your state. For instance, if you are an American woman and your state forbids marriage before 18, you can not marry earlier in Japan.

What are other legal requirements to marry in Japan?

Like that in many countries, the Japanese have some standard laws regarding marriage. For instance, the couple needs to be both legally free to marry and not related by blood or by adoption. At the same time, there are a few unique rules. One is that women are not allowed to marry within six months since the divorce of their previous marriage. This is to prevent confusion if she got pregnant during that time. As it is hard to identify the father.

Is the oldest the world’s oldest married couple in Japan?

In 2018, Guinness World Records has acknowledged that a couple in Japan is the world’s oldest married couple. Their combined age is 208. The husband, Masao Matsumoto, was 108 at that time and the wife was 100 years old. They have been in marriage for more than 80 years. since October 1937.

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.