“Graduation from Marriage” Could Hold the Answer to Japanese Relationships
Japanese people are revolutionizing the way we think about marriage, and a rising number of older couples are beginning to throw around the word “sotsukon.”
Translated literally, it means that couples are hoping to graduate from marriage. The idea, which was introduced in 2004 by Japanese author, Yumiko Sugiyama, is for couples who still love each other andwish to be together but but decideto live apart, pursue other dreams and regain their personal freedom.
While there are no exact figures of the number of Japanese couples who have gone down this path, a survey by Interstation Architecture Agency in Tokyo found that over 50% of couples had the desire to do this.
Many couples, the women especially, were looking to sotsukon for the solution, believing their freedom to pursue personal hobbies and interests would give them a greater life satisfaction and possibly improve their marriage. As the saying goes, “distance makes the heart grow fonder.”
Japan is experiencing big changes in demographics. In 2014, the lowest number of births was recorded, just one million babies. Additionally, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, Japanese women now have the longest life expectancy in the world, 86.83 years.
Both of these factors are extremely important when considering the rising demand for sotsukon, and for the majority of Japanese women, the longest part of their life is the period after their children have left the family home.
Kazumi Yamamoto, who delivers a fortnightly seminar on the logistics of sotsukon, states that traditionally in Japan, the man is the head of the household, and women often rely on their husbands for financial support and guidance.
The perceived lack of financial freedom is the biggest obstacle for many Japanese women looking to graduate from marriage to their husbands. After all, “I don’t know if we can really call it sotsukon if the wife’s lifestyle is being paid for by the husband,” she says.
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