A quarter of married Japanese men admit to adultery

It is widely perceived that adultery is common in Japan, but what’s the reality?

Sure, there are lots of dating apps out there, including ones specifically for people already with partners.

There’s also a bustling cottage industry of private detectives whose entire raison d’être is to find out whether your spouse is cheating or not.

It also depends on the definition of adultery and cheating. Prostitution is a large industry in Japan but would a session every now and then with a sex worker count as an affair or cheating?

Well, a survey by the aptly named Love Is All of 1,966 married men and women across Japan found that around a quarter of men and nearly a fifth of women admitted to cheating on their spouse.

outdoor kissing japanese couple affair cheating adultery

The survey was limited to those aged between 35 and 45 and with families, which raises the question: Would the numbers have been higher or lower if it included married people without children? We expected lower, since childless couples are far more likely to have time, energy, and resources to sustain their intimacy as a couple, while having children in general and especially in Japan, where homes are small and parents often sleep next to their kids on futons, is an intimacy killer.

While some might be surprised at the high number of married women who admit to cheating, it is such a cultural phenomenon that it has inspired TV dramas, movies, and more.

adultery in japan cheating statistics extramarital affair

But where men and women seem to diverge is their reason for having an affair. For guys, the most common reason is the obvious one: sex. Their marriage is now sexless or not sexual enough (see the point about kids above).

For women, though, they have more emotional motivations. Most of the reasons they gave for having an affair were emotional: they fell in love with the other person, they were lonely, my married life is boring, etc.

Overwhelmingly, the most common way in which respondents said their affairs began was work: they met their partners through their jobs. Since we spend more time at work than with our families, it makes a lot of sense.

Also, note that a majority of both men and women (and especially the men, at 63.8%) said they did not want to leave their spouse despite their extramarital affair. This reflects the temporary “stopgap” or Bandaid nature of the affair, perhaps, but perhaps fears over maintaining access to their children, since custody in Japan is generally awarded to just one spouse after a divorce.

For a more detailed breakdown of the survey results in English, SoraNews24 has a decent writeup.

Adultery scandals are very common news stories. Recent examples include the actress and model Ryoko Hirose (practically ending her career), the Miss Japan winner (which cost her the title), 57-year-old LDP lawmaker Megumi Hirose (whose affair with a foreign saxophonist has been a salacious scandal), and the 65-year-old media commentator and famous sociologist Shinji Miyadai, who was spotted with a 20-year-old college student (he claims he was doing “fieldwork” with her and giving her advice on her future, which doesn’t explain why they were at a cheap love hotel, and were pictured kissing and holding hands).

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  • thedude March 6, 2024

    I think those numbers are a tad low
    women don’t like admitting to slutty behavior and many J guys don’t count fuuzoku (prostitution) as cheating

    personally I am a big support er of cheating housewives

  • Mike Travels March 6, 2024

    I’ve fucked tons of married Japanese women. it’s a top country for adultry. only France and Thailand can beat it!

  • jack from downunder March 6, 2024

    65-year-old media commentator and famous sociologist Shinji Miyadai, who was spotted with a 20-year-old college student – that is legendary stuff still getting it on at his age.

  • Mike Travels March 7, 2024

    Yo Jack, you can see 65 year old men with 20 year old women every day of the week in Vietnam. Asian guys are the smartest in the world! Western guys are dumb arses chasing women their mums age

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