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Care Manag J. 2006 Fall;7(3):123-34.

The fallacy of late-life divorce in Japan.

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Kyorin University, Hachioji Campus, Tokyo, Japan.


Late-life divorces in Japan, that is, divorces by couples with more than 20 years' duration of marriage at the time of divorce, have become increasingly conspicuous since in the mid-1990s. However, an increase in the number of late-life divorces is not the same as an increase in the divorce rate. That is, the conspicuous phenomenon of late-life divorces may not reflect the true nature of the institution of divorce. It may be a fallacy of late-life divorce in Japan today. This is the starting point of the present study. Five major findings have emerged. First, late-life divorces did increase dramatically over the recent past. Second, late-life divorces will continue to increase after 2007, when the new old-age pension division scheme for couples who pursue divorce will be in effect. Third, the increment in late-life divorce cases is due primarily to the baby-boomers born between 1947 and 1949 who are pursuing such late-life divorces. Fourth, as the duration of marriage increases, Japanese married couples are less inclined to pursue divorce. Fifth, the reasons for late-life divorces differ from those expressed for divorces in general. It is hoped that these findings will provide valuable insights for Japanese couples married for many years who may wish to reconsider and to reconstruct their marital relationship for the better.

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