The divorce rate in Japan is low, but why? While it is a social taboo, there’s still some underlying factors.
Social outings in Japan are a very important part of making connections. It’s a way to become friends with your workmates and foster a good workplace ethic. Most of these parties start with the first party at a restaurant and then proceed into the second, third or fourth party. Where alcohol and peer pressure is involved, at some point, that young or old salary man has been tempted by his co-workers to enter a strip club or even worse, a brothel. He could be married and maybe has a few kids. If this already isn’t a bad situation, it’s about to escalate.
He may be uncomfortable with the situation and wants to remain faithful to his partner. Why doesn’t he say no? To be frank, he would be the one that is ruining the fun, the mood damper, and the pressure to bond with his co-workers is high. Unfortunately, these outings are another way to climb the ladder or to advance to a higher position. In some cases, it’s expected for this kind of behavior to happen and some wives tolerate it for more social status. Do all men think this is right? No, but this does happen in the darker side of Japanese culture.
In my experience in Japan when talking about cheating, I’ve received a plethora of answers about this. In my opinion many people share the same outlook as I in regards to cheating. It’s wrong, immoral and hurts your partner. Others believe it’s not really cheating because it’s a human urge to repopulate the earth. It becomes cheating when the cheater begins to feel love for another person rather than their spouse.
I’m by no means an expert on the topic, but here’s some of the stories I’ve heard in regards to cheating.
The Strip Club turned Brothel
I heard one story of a married ALT who went out with his married co-workers. They asked if he liked “boobs” and his response was what any typical heterosexual male would give. Calling his wife and asking for permission to the strip club, she gave her blessing and on their way, they went.
A strip club was expected and a brothel was given. This scenario happened after an enkai or drinking party. Insisting he was happily married, his co-workers went off to their extracurricular activities behind closed curtains. He sat there, in shock, listening to the clap, clap, clap while conversing awkwardly with a prostitute instead of cashing in on the blow job his co-workers paid for.
Related: Dear Japan, We Have to Break Up
Married Japanese Friends Dating Military on Okinawa
My next example comes from something I’ve witnessed myself. My Japanese friend has been married for years and enjoys dating military men in Okinawa. Now let me tell you, she’s gorgeous. She’s 40 and she looks half her age. She can still party like it’s 1999 and she’s an awesome dancer and a hair dresser. Her husband has no idea of her whereabouts or what she does. Although I don’t know her circumstances I feel sorry for both her and her husband because both are in a marriage they probably don’t want to be in.
Japanese with a Foreigner Fetish
I really hate the guys who are like this. Actually, I hate them the most. I just don’t understand why they believe flirting and sleeping with foreigners is okay as long as they love their wife. Stay away from these guys. They’re only looking to add a new nationality to their belt and another notch to their list of broken hearts. They look at foreigners like exotic creatures and put them up on a pedestal.
Leading Someone On
What can be taken as kindness can actually cross the border into leading someone on mercilessly. A lot of my Japanese friends have told me they absolutely hate confrontation. It’s uncomfortable and they can’t stand it. I’ll recount a story a Japanese friend confided about a boy she really liked in high school. He rejected her and dated another girl that he stayed together with for 10 years. The pair reconnected at a high school reunion and spent time together. She knew he lived with his girlfriend but enjoyed spending time with him anyway.
Hoping he would leave his girlfriend, one thing led to another and he promised he would break up with her, but he still lived with his “ex”. Not wanting to leave his comfort zone, he reconciled with his girlfriend and my friend ceased contact with him immediately. Talk about a broken heart…
Why is it easy to cheat?
Part of the culture in Japan denotes not talking about your significant other to anyone. I’ve fallen prey to Japanese men doing this twice. It’s not fun and for lack of a better word, it sucks balls. In American, Italian and Mexican culture, you know who is dating who. It’s public on the couples’ social networking sites and even if it’s not, you know the guy is a cheater when his woman is tracking your social media to see his likes. Coming from this side, it seems like couples in Japan aren’t even dating. I don’t see them holding hands, I don’t see it Facebook official, and when they do go on dates, they’ll only post pictures if they’re with other friends.
Related: Things I Miss About Okinawa, Japan
Japanese Men(typically) Don’t Wear Wedding Rings
Wearing wedding bands is a very western concept. Westerners believe it’s okay for a man not to wear his wedding band if he’s in a trade requiring hard work with the use of his hands. Of course there will be sleazy men who take off their wedding ring at public gatherings to try and get with the next hottest woman.
While I was in Japan, I noticed my male co-workers usually never wore their wedding bands but my female co-workers often did. I wondered about this for awhile until I asked. I couldn’t get a clear answer but I believe it’s because many of them found it troublesome to wear their rings all the time and often forgot.
Mind you, I understand Japan is culturally different. Just because Japanese don’t talk about their significant others doesn’t mean they don’t like them. They may or may not. Talking about your significant other makes you boastful and not humble. The point is not to disrupt harmony by showing off. In my opinion, this makes extra-marital or extra-relational relationships easier.
In Japan, there is a specific timeline of when to go to college, when to get a salary job, and when to get married. Couples are pressured to marry young for fear of not finding anyone after the time gap closes. This pressure causes a lot of stress. I actually feel a bit stressed by writing about their societal pressures.
There’s pressure to keep up appearances. Great expectations rely solely on having the perfect wife, smart children, and a high paying salary job. These great expectations can cause a couple to fall out of love with their spouse and seek attention elsewhere. They’re stuck with their partner because divorce is taboo. At the end of the day, I guess they have their cake (boyfriend or girlfriend) and can eat it too (spouse).
What are your thoughts on cheating and cheaters in your country or you’ve experienced abroad? Looking forward to hearing from you soon.