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International News Archive
December 28 -  December 31, 2000


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This page contains news for the period December 28, 2000 through December 31, 2000.


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Thursday, December 28, 2000

More premarital sex in Japan leads to more pregnant brides

A story published today in the Australian reports that almost one in five marriages in Japan now involves a pregnant bride,  compared with one in 10 in 1977.

Few Japanese couples choose to have a child out of wedlock because of the nation's strict family register system, which can taint the child in the eyes of future employers.

The destigmatisation of pregnancy in brides is contributing to the decline in Japan's abortion rate. Health and Welfare Ministry statistics show there were about 340,000 terminations in Japan last year – about 28 abortions per 100 births, as against 38 per 100 between 1970 and 1990.

People are getting married older in Japan, and some sociologists suggest couples use pregnancy as a prod to walk up the aisle.

"There are those who don't use contraceptives because they are not averse to having children, and use pregnancy as a push toward marriage," sociology professor Masahiro Yamada told the Asahi News.

"I think such marriages will increase in the future."

The embarrassment factor in being a child of unmarried parents seems to have all but disappeared in many Western nations, but in Japan there are real consequences for such children.

The family register is a record to which Japanese play particular attention, and the place of your birth and whose family you are born into is hugely important. Employers and families of potential marriage partners often check the register before accepting an applicant or new family member, and the lack of clear details on birth can lead to problems for a child later in life.

This is why couples are more likely to marry if the woman becomes pregnant rather than have the child out of wedlock, said Junko Kuninobu, of Aichi Shukutoku University.


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