The economic toll behind the break-up of the nuclear family in Japan
Did you know that 25% of all marriages in Japan are couples that marry due to unplanned pregnancies? In Okinawa that rate is 42.4% Did you also know that 25% of all households with children in Japan are single-parent? The dutiful wife getting up at 4am to make breakfast for her samurai salaryman husband is virtually non-existent and half of divorces happen in age groups 55 years old and above. 25% of divorces occur in the 65yo+ cohort. The government changed the law in 2007 entitling wives to up to half of their ex-husband’s pension. Still the trend was rising sharply even before its introduction. Mrs. Watanabe has had enough of her salaryman and wants out.
Domestic violence (DV) is seeing a very sharp upturn in Japan. Between 2010 and 2014, DV has soared 60.6% against women and 650.1% against men. Most cases (over 60%) of DV were marital related. Recognizing the growing problem, the police have even developed a new category of DV, which defines a divorced couple who are living under the same roof. Economic conditions for some families has become so tight that the stress of living with someone they do not want to be with now gets its own category, scoring over 6,000 cases alone in 2014.
Source: Japanese National Police Agency (JNPA)
Between 2010 and 2014, total reported stalking cases surged 36.6% to 24,837. 50% of stalking incidents recorded were related to partners (including former partners).
The Ministry for Health, Labor & Welfare (MHLW) has 208 child consultation centres, which fielded over 88,000 cases in 2014, a 20.5%YoY increase or 22x the level of 20 years ago. Despite a 2.4x jump in social workers inside these child consultation centres over the last two decades they can’t keep up with the demand. The Japan National Police Agency (JNPA) statistics show a sharp jump in arrests for child abuse, 80% being due to physical violence causing injury. In 2013, 36 abused children died with 16 of them under 1 year old. Police note that child abuse is being driven by the breakdown in traditional family, unemployment and poverty, stats which we showed earlier to be rising steadily.
Source: Statistics Bureau
Crime in Japan is a problem that will not simply disappear with the evolving mix of aging demographics, poverty, unemployment, underemployment and economic stagnation. We note that the previous jump in Japanese crime started in 1997 and ran to a peak in 2003. Unemployment was a factor. In the crime boom of 2010-2016, we note that the unemployment rate has fallen but it masks disturbing trends in lower paid part-time work which is putting families under financial stress.
There is the smell of fear in the workplace. In the period 2002 to 2013, labour disputes almost trebled. Bullying and harassment (which are obviously less palatable for companies to have floating in the public domain) as a percent of total disputes has ballooned from 5.8% to almost 20% over the same period.
Another dilemma in the data is the employment referrals by government unemployment agencies for middle or advanced aged staff (45yo+) shows that around 25% of them end up with work in a fixed term capacity of more than 4 months.
Ironically active retraining of inmates to help them find new careers after release occurs in prison. Why isn’t more being spent on finding ways to redeploy those out of prison? The idea that any job will do is a recipe for failure and cannot be relied upon as a sustainable program. Most vocational training by Hello Work, the government unemployment insurance agency, is broad and non-specific. Any specific job training will be ‘paid for’ which ultimately is limited to an unemployed person’s financial status and confidence a job will be attainable at the end of it.
Crime in Japan - Part 3 – Yakuza, Murder, Drugs, Fraud & the Police – out in March
Full Report Available here.