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Marriage

If you’re thinking about getting married in Japan, then here’s what you need to know.

Paperwork
Before you can get married in Japan as a foreigner then you need a sworn affadavit of competency to marry. This is normally obtained from your country’s embassy or consulate. If you’re in the military then you need to go through military channels to obtain the certificate.

What’s Legal?
You may think, like back home, you go have the fancy ceremony, then that’s it you’re married. Nope.
The ceremony in Japan, whether you chose a Western or Japanese style occasion means nothing legally.
Until you submit a “Notification of Marriage” at city hall you’re not legally married. So in theory, you could get married in just a few minutes at the city office. Not very romantic though!

Age
Bride in Okinawa The legal age to get married in Japan is 18 years old for men and 16 years old for women, though if you’re under 20 years old you need parental permission. After divorce though, a woman must wait 6 months to re-marry in case she may be pregnant. Though if she happens to be divorcing and re-marrying the same man, then that can be done in the same day! It probably wouldn’t make the city office too happy though!

Japanese & Foreign Marriage
One of the big criticisms about mixed marriage in Japan is that foreigners are not fully recognised on the family register. As it’s such an important document and literally contains the identity of a family it’s come in for increasing attack in recent years for not being reformed. Whether foreign or Japanese, most parents chose to get married due to the father of a child born outside marriage not being legallly recognised.

Am I Legally Married?
Most countries including the US, recognise that a foreign legal and valid marriage, which includes Japan of course, is also valid in the US.

Divorce

In recent years terms like “Narita Divorce” and “Kansai Divorce” have become common with couples going off on honeymoon then divorcing as soon as they get back! Much like marriage, if both parties agree, then divorce can be accomplished quickly by simply filing the paperwork.
However, if one party doesn’t agree then it’s off to adjudication then if that fails, district court. The problem is that even at district court there still has to be an overwhelming reason for divorce to be approved against one person’s wishes.