Are you planning to tie the knot with your Japanese partner? Settling down in the land of the rising sun to start your family can be a great option to consider, but you should also ensure you are ready to make the commitment it entails. Culture shock, language barrier, and a lingering sense of homesickness are just some of the things you may experience in the country.
Despite the circumstances, international marriages in Japan are becoming a common occurrence. In 2010 alone, 4.3% or approximately 30,000 pairs were composed of Japanese and foreigner unions. The rates of international marriages in Japan are higher in urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka.
The most common form of an international marriage in Japan is between a Japanese woman and a foreign man, but an increasing number of Japanese men are also opting to marry women from abroad according to recent statistics.
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Settling Down in Japan after Getting Married to a Japanese Citizen
According to a demographic study conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, 21,180 Japanese nationals married foreign citizens in 2016. In terms of nationality, the largest number of foreign spouses were Chinese, Filipino, Koreans, Thai, and Americans.
The number of international marriages in the country soared to great heights in the 80s – 90s, and peaking at over 44,000 pairs in 2006. However, the number has been decreasing at a mere average of around 20,000 per year since 2011 – tumbling by nearly half.
Despite the decline, there remains to be a strong interest in international marriages in Japan. It remains to be a significant percentage of unions in the country, a proof that international marriages are turning to be a normal aspect of the traditional and conservative Japanese culture.
If you have met the man or woman of your dreams and finally decided to make it official, here is a quick rundown to ensure love will prevail in Japan.
Changing to a Spousal Visa
Getting married to a Japanese citizen does not guarantee you a visa that will magically appear out of nowhere. Just like any other visa, you have to go through the extensive application process that requires a waiting period in between.
Applying for a spousal visa entitles you a lot more freedom in terms of work. You can apply for any industry you desire, unlike conventional working visas that restrict you to a specific type of work in Japan.
Here are some other pointers to keep in mind while getting a spousal visa:
- – Present the documents to prove you are legally married to a Japanese national
- – Show that your tax affairs are in order
- – If possible, show proof that you two have lived together for some time (provide photo evidence or any other proof of your relationship)
- – Your Japanese partner must be ready to explain how you met and the timeline of your relationship
Registration of Marriage
Just like any other Japanese couple, the interracial pair needs to submit their registration of marriage. Foreign spouses are also required to secure a certificate to prove they have already met all the conditions to get married according to the law back in their home countries.
Once the registration of marriage is successful, Japanese people tend to keep their family name. If a Japanese wife wants to have her husband’s foreign family name, she must apply and send an application to the authorities within 6 months from the date of the marriage.
Registering for ID, Insurance, and Welfare
The alien registration card system has been abolished since July 2012. In the new immigration control system, foreigners who have obtained a Japanese visa for middle to long-term residency (from 3 months or longer) will receive a resident card instead. This card is issued and managed by the Immigration Bureau of Japan.
If you are a resident cardholder, you can apply for national health insurance and a pension plan managed by the government. You can also procure a certificate of residence at local city offices, bearing personal information or including all of your family members – regardless of their nationality.
Dealing with the Language Barrier
Tying the knot with a foreign partner entails many differences. In particular, the language barrier is something you need to deal with when marrying a Japanese spouse.
Even if you both learn to speak each other’s language, there will be times when you misunderstand each other or cannot say exactly what you want to say. It will be frustrating at some point, but you can get over it with patience and extended understanding. This can strengthen your relationship as well.
If you are planning to stay with your partner in Japan for good, consider learning the Japanese language. Being proficient in Japanese can make your life in the country easier to manage, and more job prospects will be made available for you as well. In particular, you can check out Motto Japan Study Programs to help you become proficient in the language.
Respecting your Partner’s Culture
Japan’s culture is highly traditional. While this may come off as a surprise to those who view Japan as a modern high-tech society filled with robots and such, many organizations still rely on their traditional way of doing things. For instance, job and university applications are still done by hand and the fax machine is still widely used in the country.
Keep an open mind about your partner’s culture. Learn to respect the customs and traditions. Always be polite and courteous, arrive to set meetings on time, and do not be too rowdy in public. International marriages require more patience and an extended understanding to make it work, but you may end up knowing more about yourself and your partner in the process.
An Avenue for Mutual Understanding
The growing numbers of international marriages in Japan reflect the global blurring of boundaries and sharing of cultures.
Factors such as religious beliefs, upbringing, and culture molds each person in various ways. With a Japanese spouse, something that may be a common practice or knowledge to you may be unfamiliar to your partner. While this can bring about tension in the relationship, this can also provide room for growth and understanding.
Getting married, others say, is among the most stressful things you can ever do. What more with a foreign spouse? With all the legalities and paperwork considered, it may take up time, money, and effort on your part.
However, it can also become one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences in your life. Settling down in the country with your Japanese partner will always be worth it in the end!
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