Still, the presumably inactive love life of modern-day Japanese cannot be explained by a lack of opportunities. Apart from traditional forms of matchmaking arrangements (omiai) or marriage hunting services, modern means like dating apps are gaining popularity among singles. In 2017, the majority of Japanese adults reported to be aware of the existence of mobile matchmaking applications like Pairs, Tinder, or Tapple. Of those, around 30 percent had firsthand experience with the use of such apps.
Despite the availability of, to some extent, free dating services on the market, less than a quarter of the population reported to be in a heterosexual relationship. At the same time, the number of marriages has been continuously declining, reaching a low of around 607 thousand in 2017.
While finding a suitable partner might be the most profound factor deterring people from getting married, financial insecurity can be an additional obstacle to starting a family. In the past ten years, the annual income of households dropped, whereas living expenses for everyday commodities rose continuously. In order to ensure financial stability, both spouses are required to enter the labor force, with the majority of women continuing their occupation after getting married. Balancing work and caring responsibilities are among the basal challenges of young parents in contemporary Japan.
In recent years, Japan’s LGBT community has started to gain more recognition and support within the domestic society. In 2018, the majority of people living in Japan were aware of the term “LGBT” and the existence of sexual minorities.
While same-sex marriages are not legalized on a national level, individual municipalities started to officially recognize same-sex partnerships in the form of partnership certificates, which provide limited partner benefits to same-sex couples. Support for the legalization of same-sex marriages continues to advance, especially among younger generations, with the majority of Japanese at least somewhat approving of same-sex marriages.