Divorce rates in Japan have surged as married couples are forced to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak with about 35 per cent of marriages ending in divorce filings mow. This has led to the term “corona divorce” to be trending in Japan recently.
By comparison, divorce rates in Japan are still lower than those in other countries such as the United States where 45 per cent of marriages end in separation, or in Britain where the divorce rates reached nearly 41 per cent. However, the term “corona divorce” resonates particularly in Japan, the South China Morning Post reported on 27 April.
The term “corona divorce” started trending on Twitter as many infuriated wives resorted to the micro-blogging site as a platform to vent about their husbands, with some women even dropping hints that they wanted to end their marriage.
“My husband’s loud voice. The sounding of him coughing and eating. The television is on loudly all day. My husband snoring as he lays in the middle of the living room,” one Japanese wife wrote on Twitter. “I’ve put up with this for 10 days. How many more days will it last? Will my spirit hold?”
“Is it easier to get a divorce? Will that refresh me? I want to rid myself of all my worries. I want to rediscover myself. It’s dark every day. I’m sick of you looking. I’m always worried. I just sigh,” another Japanese wife tweeted with the hashtag “#husbanddeathnote”.
Another one tweeted, “My husband drinks, he moves around, he does not wash his hands and doesn’t know what to do in the kitchen. This misalignment between husbands and wives usually works itself out – but for me, this is a chance to seriously think about my future.”
According to Chie Goto, a lawyer specialising in divorce cases for the Felice Law Office in Nishinomiya City, the fact that husbands have to work from home or some having even lost their jobs, children having to attend classes from home, and authorities urging people to stay indoors, couples are facing “situations we have rarely experienced before”.
“The home has become a workplace and that is a major cause of the problems,” Mr Goto wrote in a blog post. “People feel stress when their environment changes … and that can lead to a large crack appearing in a marriage.”
Following that, he suggested a list of solutions for couples who are currently in stressful circumstances. These include talking about things openly and exchanging opinions, cooking meals together, sharing chores, and implementing rules to prevent being infected with the virus.
Meanwhile, a Japanese short-term rental firm, Tokyo-based Kasoku, offered its empty apartments as “temporary shelters” for stressed couples who wish to have some time apart amid the lockdown.
“Please consult with us before thinking about ‘coronavirus divorce’,” said Kasoku’s spokesman.
The Japan Times reported on 16 April that Kasoku is renting its apartments for ¥4,400 (S$40) a day, which comes with a free 30-minute divorce consultation with a legal official. The firm said that it had about 20 customers since it first started renting out the apartments on 3 April.
“Among the users of this service are a wife who said she fled after having a big fight with her husband, and a woman who said she wants time to herself as she is tired of taking care of her children who are at home all day because of school closures, while her husband works remotely at home,” the spokesman said.
China’s divorce rates increased amid the national lockdown
Understandably, Japan is not the only country in Asia facing a surge in divorce rates. Divorce rates in China have also risen significantly amid the national lockdown during the pandemic.
Global News reported on 2 April that the number of divorce registrations in Miluo city in Hunan province has reached 206 since 10 February, adding that staff members of a marriage registration centre did not even have time to drink water as many people were lining up to file for divorce.
“On March 16, we went through 18 pairs of divorce registration procedures and obviously felt that the number of divorces had surged in the near future [sic],” noted Yi Xiaoyan, director of the city’s marriage registration centre.
A divorce lawyer at Gentle and Trust Law Firm in Shanghai, Steve Li, stated that infidelity used to be the main reason for divorce, but now couples are filing for divorce over not getting enough space.
“The more time they spend together, the more they hate each other,” Mr Li remarked. “People need space. Not just for couples. This applies to everybody.”