Divorces hit all-time high in Japan, as more middle-aged couples split
( 2003-09-17 13:54) (Agencies)
Japan's divorce rate rose to an all-time high last year, reflecting an
increasing number of middle-aged and older couples who are breaking up.
According to annual statistics recently released by the nation's Health,
Labor and Welfare Ministry, a record 289,836 couples divorced in 2002, up 1.4
percent from the previous all-time high of 285,911 in 2001.
That amounted to 2.30 divorces for every 1,000 people in Japan, also a record
and more than double the rate of 1.07 in 1975.
Behind the rise is an increasing number of couples who are parting ways after
have been married for 20 years or more: they accounted for 15.7 percent of
divorces in 2002, up from just 5.7 percent in 1975. The corresponding figure for
newlyweds _ married five years or less _ fell to 34.4 percent from 49
Divorce was long considered a social taboo in Japan, but the stigma has faded
in recent years.
One phemonenon given prominent media coverage involves older women who leave
their husbands after the latter retire and find themselves with nothing to do
but hang around the house.