Ten thousand yen a month for his gym membership and up to three cans of chuhai or beer each day. This is how 39-year-old Yuta Tedara, Kanagawa Prefecture resident and certified care worker lives—comfortably, with a few extravagances thrown in. Even though more than 60% of Japanese men at this age are already married, Terada is a bachelor and hasn’t even had a girlfriend for more than a decade.
His annual salary is 2.8 million yen ($25,000), and although he is a highly experienced care worker, Terada has changed employers every few years. We asked him what he thinks of Japanese people’s ideal picture of marriage, in which the husband is the breadwinner and the wife stays home to care for the house and children. His response: “I definitely want children, but with my current line of work I don’t think that’s possible.”
Terada’s daily living expenses are not demanding. He lives with his 69-year-old father, who retired at age 65 but still brings in 30,000 yen per month on top of his post-retirement pension benefits. His father also owns the house in which they live. “Even if I were to meet someone I really like, I don’t think I would feel the need to get married right away,” says Terada, describing his recent thoughts on the matter.
The ratio of unmarried people in Japan has been steadily growing. Japan once boasted a 98% marriage rate, but things have changed drastically: according to 2010 statistics from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, one in five Japanese men and one in 10 Japanese women have never been married by the time they reach age 50, and over the next 20 years, these ratios are expected to grow to roughly one in three for men (29.0%) and one in five for women (19.2%).