Life and marriage in Japan is a choice for some Thai women seeking an Asian love partner
The plight of Thai women is obscured by the private nature of relationships in Japan, changing trends and the continued blight of human trafficking between Thailand and the land of the rising sun.
The need for foreign brides in Japan still exists. Japan's population faces a chronic ageing crisis which continues to grow in alarming proportions. At the same time, younger Japanese women continue to opt for careers in the city rather than staying at home in rural Japan. The Japanese government, while disputing the root cause of the issue, is taking action and is even promoting, at some levels, the idea of Japanese men finding women from foreign countries.
Thailand has always been a popular place for Japanese men seeking prospective marriage partners. In an initial response to the declining population crisis in Japan, which came to fore over twenty five years ago, there was a large wave of Japanese men who found Thai women as marriage and life partners. Some of these Japanese men opted to live part time in Thailand and coupled with economic emigration, the wave resulted in over 40,000 Thai women marrying Japanese partners between 1975 and 2005.
Many of these were arranged marriages involving marriage agencies or referrals made by friends of the Thai women. Many also simply involved Japanese men traveling to Thailand and finding suitable partners. In most cases the Japanese men paid over significant amounts of money. Japanese men developed a deserved reputation for being good husbands and providers in Thailand. This remains true to this day. But there have been dramatic changes in the way relationships between Thai women and men from Japan now evolve:
- The growth of a sex and human trafficking trend has corresponded with this wave of marriage between Thai women and Japanese men. Although now reported to be in decline, there continues to be a large sex and human trafficking chain involving the sexual exploitation of Thai women between Thailand and Japan. This has coloured the prospect of meeting a Japanese man for many Thai women. 'There are many women in Thailand who would like to meet and develop a relationship with the Japanese men. A recent online survey showed that Japanese men topped the charts when it comes to personal preferences for Thai women particularly younger Thai women from more affluent backgrounds but the prospect of traveling to Japan is a challenging one for many of these Thai women,' says Carla Boonkong, a commentator in Bangkok.
- The internet and international internet dating sites have corresponded with a boom in western men seeking Thai women as girlfriends and marriage partners. The explosion in this trend and it's continued popularity has offered more choices to Thai women. 'Many Thai women opt to live in western countries now but there is a trend for Thai women to live in Thailand with their foreign marriage partners. In Thailand today Japanese men are also extremely popular particularly for Thai women who are interested in finding an Asian love partner.'
- The population crisis in Japan has continued and even becoming more acute. It has been exacerbated by a decline in marriage rates as more and more Japanese women opt for careers as opposed to marriage particularly Japanese women living in rural areas. In the last ten years the structural decline of the Japanese economy has added to the urgency while also causing many Japanese men, particularly younger ones, to postpone marriage altogether.
Key advice for Thai women seeking to meet a man from Japan
'Thai women should certainly use the internet and find out everything about Japan before considering life with a Japanese partner. Japan is not a country for a Thai woman to negotiate without support and references,' says Carla Boonkong in Bangkok. 'Although it is less so today, there are still human trafficking traps into which unsuspecting Thai women can fall. Even on the internet, Thai women should be circumspect and develop a relationship with any prospective Japanese partner before making any life decisions. I think things have changed somewhat in recent years and Thai women are more aware of internet dating security but it is still astonishing how many young women get a carried away with the rich mystery man online,' she says.
In the past many Thai women, driven by desperate straits, were willing to travel to Japan on the basis of jobs offered and relationships offered by middlemen. Today Thai women have more options to consider.
Key points for Thai women to remember about Japan:
- Japan is a wonderful and unique culture but it can be challenging for outsiders particularly where there is a language and age barrier. Therefore any Thai woman contemplating married life in Japan must have developed a strong relationship with a Japanese man, have friends or family in Japan or have a knowledge of Japanese as a language and a culture.
- As with all foreign relationships, not all foreign partners from a foreign country will share the same characteristics. Japanese men over the last forty years have developed a strong reputation in Thailand for being both responsible and generous with money. But Thai women should beware of stereotypes. As the various experiences of Thai women in this article will show, there are indeed traditional Japanese men who are strong, responsible and supportive while demanding respect and obedience. But we have also discovered Japanese men depending on elders who have no concept of being financially responsible. 'The wealth that was generated in Japan in the 1970's has given way to an economy where many Japanese people are contracting their affairs. But it has also produced some younger Japanese who have struggled to come to terms with life in the modern world,' says Carla Boonkong. The key advice to Thai women interested in finding a relationship in Japan is to form a relationship with Japanese men online and then later to include visits to Thailand.'
On the other hand many relationships between Thai women and men from Japan continue to be successful for the following reasons:
- Most Thai women are attracted to Asian men in spite of the growing interest in foreign caucasian western men. Thai women are familiar with Japanese men who are regularly visitors to Thailand. Japan has its own cultural areas in Thailand and historical links to the country.
- Japanese culture appeals to Thai women as it is similar to Thai culture in key respects although very different in others. Old fashioned Japanese virtues such as frugality, family loyalty and commitment to work are very well thought of Thailand. Although both cultures are different in many ways, people from Japan are well thought of and respected in Thailand as a rule.
- Japanese men are seen as very affluent and in the main successful in managing financial affairs. In recent years this has been questioned with regard to younger Japanese men who are facing challenging economic conditions but many older Japanese men are interested in finding a relationship in Thailand particularly Japanese men from rural areas.
Japanese men in Thailand and Japanese culture
A newspaper story in Thailand's main English speaking newspaper in 2013, the Bangkok Post, reported that a Japanese businessman had committed suicide in Bangkok by throwing himself from the balcony of his hotel. In the lurid details of the report, it emerged that the Japanese man have had propositioned a Thai woman he had met in bar and she had not consented. Thai Police found an ashtray with many cigarette butts and a half bottle of sake. The Japanese man had been visiting Bangkok in the company of office friends who reported the incident with the Thai woman to Thai police.
'It's important to be aware of the high level of suicide in Japan almost exclusively among Japanese men. I think it is part of the psyche or samurai culture which is still very prevalent in Japanese society,' says James Morris, an internet commenter. 'Conversely it is these very qualities that Thai women find particularly attractive about Japanese men.'
In recent years, younger Thai men and women have become avid fans of Japanese culture and fashion trends such Manga. Even though Manga is frowned upon by many elderly and more devout Thais, it has become part of a counter culture among many more educated and affluent Thai men and women.
Thailand - playground for Japanese men
For many years Thailand and Bangkok in particular was considered by Japanese men as a playground. Like the Chinese, the Japanese have created their own areas in Bangkok. Japan has strong historical links with Thailand including the virtual occupation of much of the country during World War Two.
In Bangkok there are some streets and bars that exists for the exclusive use of Japanese patrons. However it has been said that this culture is in decline. 'Many of these bars have been there for a long time and prices are higher than other bars catering for other foreigners. I've heard the stories about Japan's decline but tourism numbers from Japan continue to grow,' says James Morris. In 2013 it was estimated that there were over 1.5 million Japanese visitors to Thailand. 'Most of these visitors spend a lot more than the average visitor even significantly more than western visitors ,' says Morris.
But James Morris points out that even though Japanese men continue to visit Thailand in larger numbers than ever, there has been a subtle change. 'Obviously they are older and the younger Japanese men are less affirmative and more nuanced. But what illustrates the situation better than anything else is the fact that you can now regularly see Japanese women in Bangkok looking for action. I recently spent a night in a bar on Sukhumvit listening to four very attractive Japanese women guffawing and joking about their sexual experiences in Bangkok. They were louder that any group of British lads on the tear, it was quite startling to see,' he asserts.
Japanese investment in Thailand
Figures from the Thai government still demonstrate large number of visitors from Japan and more importantly a commitment to long term investment in Thailand from Japanese industry. 'It is hard to overestimate the importance of Japanese investment and its links with Thailand. Japan is still the biggest foreign investor in Thailand.' Thailand has been seen for a long time as a manufacturing hub for large scale Japanese industry which has moved operations from a very high cost base in Japan to Thailand's low cost economy. The extent and depth of Japanese investment in Thailand is impressive. A leading Japanese car manufacturing recently revealed a ten year plan to build electric cars in Thailand.
Exploitation of Thai women in japan is a concern
Japan's declining birth and marriage rate is a key factor which drives Japanese men to seek foreign wives in Thailand and other Asian countries. It is also part of the reason why Japan continues to be a magnet for Thai men and women, in financially desperate straits, seeking employment. The extent of the problem in Japan is such that even government agencies at local and national level are launching initiatives to help men in Japan find marriage partners. This includes seeking women not only in Japan but also from foreign countries. But it is not the only reason that Japan continues to attract Thai women to Japan.
'Many Thai women traveling to Japan are going there because there is always a need for low paid labour, foreign wives and sex workers,' says Carla Boonkong. 'Although the Thai and Japanese government are tackling human trafficking, it is not something that has been rooted out and Thai women should exercise caution but some cannot afford that luxury, sad to say,' she points out. 'But it is easy to say this without appreciating the personal needs and all the circumstances which are often desperate.' Carla tells a story of one Thai woman who told her that she was willing to take a chance even if it meant a life of sexual slavery as it couldn't be worse that sitting in Thailand with debts mounting and not being able to respond to the situation.
Japanese government and declining marriage rate
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the Japanese minister of state responsible with dealing with the decline in the marriage and birth rate in Japan and gender equality, Masako Mori, revealed that the government was taking further steps to address the issue of the birth rate. She insisted that the key problem was a decline in marriage in Japan but was also adamant that Japanese women need not be forced out of the work force. The minister confirmed that another one of the key reasons for a dramatic fall off in Japanese marriage rates was economic instability in Japan ushered in by the worldwide economic crisis but exacerbated by key structural changes in the Japanese economy and the ageing profile.
Like many western economies, she said, the great recession that began in 2008 has also impacted Japan which even before this was suffering from the declining birth rate and a decline in economic fundamentals. M/s Mori is a minister in a radical new Japanese government headed by Japan's Prime Minister Shinsho Abe.
Less employment opportunities for Thai women
In Japan there is also the issue of the rise in part time employment which now accounts for 36.7% of all employment in Japan. For Thai women, this has meant that there are less employment opportunities in the country. These jobs have in the past been associated with middle men of all different kinds which amounts at many levels to human trafficking.
According to a 2013 report from Japan's Health Ministry, the numbers of full time jobs in Japan is on the decline. M/s Mori, the minister responsible for the declining birth rate in Japan has been quoted as saying that the economic policy named after the new Prime Minister known as 'Abenomics' needs a 'babynomics' element.
However minister Mori flatly denies that more women in Japan working in the economy is the key driver of the problem. Mori says that in other countries with similar issues, for example France, the answer was to improve child care facilities but she does admit that there is a need to encourage more Japanese men and women to marry. 'Assuming that Japan has a culture in which people have children after marriage, the declining marriage rate and increasing marriage age are important issues," she said.
The minister clearly pointed to a link between a drop in marriage and the stability of the Japanese economy. 'One reason is that they feel economically unstable,' she said. 'They also don't have opportunities to meet prospective spouses.'
James Morris in Bangkok has another point of view. 'Of course this is the nub of the problem and the reason why, in the past, Japanese men have sought Thai women as marriage partners but now there are new headwinds against this trend as Japans continues to suffer from economic uncertainty and both Thai women and Japanese men have more options.'
Over the past forty years, when the birth rate began to emerge as a key issue in Japan, many Japanese authorities at all government levels seemed to openly encouraged Japanese men to find foreign partners. However, at the same time, the country's patriarchal power structures continued to provide challenges to foreign women traveling to Japan as relationship partners such as a stringent and hostile visa regime.
Japanese marrying foreign brides including Thai women
The number of marriages between Japanese men and foreign women has over trebled in the last thirty years. It is now estimated that over 35% of all marriages in Japan involving Japanese men involve foreign women. Unlike most Asian countries, where this is also a trend like this, there are also increasing numbers of Japanese women marrying foreign men. Although for very foreign marriage involving a woman there are four involving Japanese men. It is estimated that there are over 60,000 Thai women currently living and working in Japan. 'Official figures are somewhat lower but I believe that this figure is closer to the truth, from 1975 to 2005 it is estimated that over 40,000 Thai women moved to Japan and the trend continues,' says James Morris.
Thai women losing popularity in Japan as wives
However Thai women are not the favorite nationality for marriage partner or wives of Japanese men ranking number 5 behind Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipina and Indonesian women. 'I think we have looked at the reasons why Thai women are less interested in marrying a Japanese men and living in Japan. But there are still many who do. However the opening up of the Chinese economy and the internet has given more choice to Japanese men also,' says Carla Boonkong. 'And we see Thai women learning fast through the internet too. The ability of Thai women to network and create communities around the world has given them more attractive options.'
Thai women and Japanese men - No to mail order brides
While Thai women are not the most sought after foreign brides in Japan, the number of Thai women seeking foreign love partners in Japan continues to grow beyond the figure of 60,000 living in the country. Japanese men are very well thought of in Thailand, in spite of reports of human trafficking and the deplorable sex trade. This has certainly cautioned some Thai women thinking of marrying Japanese men. 'Even today there is a large and powerful sex and human trafficking trade between Thailand and Japan, this has also been merged with the old fashioned mail order bride business which is very unfortunate,' says Carla Boonkong. 'Today with the internet and Thailand opening up to foreign countries, many Thai women are exploring their options carefully and are rejecting the idea of being bought and paid for even as a bride. The days of mail order brides are gone and I think this is a very good thing, certainly young Thai women today are beyond this concept,' says Carla.
Changes in Japan mean more Japanese men in Thailand
In the last ten years the Japanese economy has been restricted and challenged. It has been overtaken by China and suffered from natural disasters and a steep downturn in the global economy. 'The eighties archetype of the Japanese executive still exists but today in Japan there is not the same drive and many younger and even older Japanese people are questioning the frantic lifestyle, prices are also dropping and many Japanese are careful about expenditure,' explains Morris, an experienced commentator based in Bangkok.
'Thailand has always been a playground for Japanese men and you'll find many Japanese men with Thai girlfriends or minor wives just like we have today with foreign men from the United Kingdom or America except some Japanese men are exceptional generous and the relationships often more satisfying for the Thai women, this is just my own personal opinion but I have been impressed by some of the Thai Japanese relationships I have seen in Thailand,' says Morris.
Abuse of Japanese men in Thailand
It must be pointed out that there also reports of Japanese men being abused in Thailand. Thai police in Bangkok recently arrested a Thai woman after an elderly Japanese man, a teacher, went missing and was sought after by his son. The police found evidence of illness and while investigations were under way, they indicated that they believed the Thai woman and her Thai boyfriend were involved in the disappearance of the man.
It emerged that the woman had withdrawn 720,000 baht ($24,000) from the Thai bank account of the Japanese man by ATM after his disappearance. It also emerged that the woman had been involved with another Japanese man some years previously and when he died, she had claimed a multi million baht life insurance settlement. 'I would obviously caution anyone reading such reports that episodes like this are a drop in the ocean when compared to the large numbers of happy relationships. But it is advisable that any Japanese man thinking of settling in Thailand or dating Thai women at an elderly age take precautions. This is advice for any foreigner settling in Thailand. I would summarise it by saying that a reputable lawyer is required and that no land should be purchased in a third party name,' he says.
Past - Japanese men paid money to find Thai wives
In last thirty or forty years since Japanese men became interested in finding Thai wives or love partners, there was a growth in bride agencies and companies facilitating marriages between Thai women and Japanese men. While there are still very reputable companies in this field, the room for overlap between human trafficking and exploitation exists as such arranged marriages have the following disadvantages:
They place an obligation on the Thai woman involved as the Japanese partner has often paid a large fee to an agency or third party. 'I think that this concept is more and more out of date and unacceptable, I even feel uncomfortable commenting on it,' says Carla Boonkong. 'I understand and accept that in all relationships that there will of course be money matters and financial obligations. In fact it is necessary for a healthy and successful relationships that such matters are dealt with but they should be personally between the two parties. That is why I strongly recommend the internet and online dating sites coupled perhaps with a personal reference on both sides. Therefore I would say to a Japanese man to firstly establish a relationship with a Thai woman in Thailand and to do this online while also providing personal references and honest information. Similarly with Thai women.'
Relationships take time and natural personal interaction. Arranged marriages proposed to any party can have a coercive effect. A recent report in Thailand identified a brokerage company operating in the Khon Kaen area which imposed financial penalties on Thai women who rejected a marriage proposal. Because of the danger to Thai women in a potential failed relationship and the severe problem of human trafficking between Japan and Thailand, there is a particular obligation for Thai women to exercise care. 'Japan is an ideal location for many Thai women and Japanese men are often thought to be very desirable,' says Carla Boonkong. 'But a move to Japan for a Thai woman is a big step into a different culture where she will be very dependent on her Japanese partner or husband.'
Japanese men and fees to wive brokerage in Khon Khaen
The report on marriage agencies and brokerages in Khon Khaen and North east Thailand revealed that Japanese men were paying over $20,000 to find a Thai wife and that $3,000 of this was being paid to the Thai woman's family as a dowry payment. Caral Boonkong thinks this is the wrong approach.
'This is very different to what is happening naturally with other foreign men including some Japanese men who come to Thailand often settling in Thai villages and taking care of the Thai woman's family. Of course I understand that some Japanese men see this a more efficient way and do not want to meet relationship partners online. I have personally spoken with Americans and Europeans who say the same thing. It is an old fashioned thing to like a personal connection or a third party in organising such matters. That is why I bring up the idea of personal references. I often recommend that Thai women engaging in online dating who are particularly interested in finding a foreign partner engage a trusted friend such as an older or respected family member for instance an aunt to take part on the exercise and engage with the foreign man when they visit Thailand. Obviously such a visit is essential,' says Carla Boonkong.
Visa regime for Thai women marrying men in Japan
Meanwhile the ageing population as well as declining birth and marriage rates have continued to rise on the national agenda as urgent issues in Japan. We have reported that in the last twenty years this has resulted in various government initiatives actively encouraging Japanese men to find foreign wives. But the Japanese government appears to be acting in a contradictory manner.
At the same time, Japan's strict visa regime has become even stricter and represents a challenge for any Thai woman considering marriage with a Japanese men. The law favours Thai women who are living with their husbands or who have a Japanese child. Thai women, whose relationship with their Japanese do not produce offspring or where the Japanese partner moves out of home, are in real danger of deportation from Japan if they do not achieve permanent residency.
The law was confirmed by a landmark legal case involving a Thai woman and her former Japanese husband. The current visa situation for Thai women married to men in Japan is as follows:
- Thai women, who are married to Japanese men, can obtain a spousal visa where it is shown that the Japanese husband is living with the the Thai woman. In situations where a marriage has broken down, then the visa is not granted no matter how long the relationship has lasted. The only other factor is whether the Thai woman has Japanese children or whether the Thai woman has been granted permanent residency. A Thai woman who is married to and living with a Japanese man for over three years can apply for permanent residency and this is advisable.
- If the Thai woman is the mother of a child who is a Japanese citizen then she can obtain a visa to stay in Japan.
- If the Thai woman has obtained permanent residency in Japan and is subsequently divorced by her Japanese husband then she can still obtain a visa or remain in the country on this basis.
Thai woman loses visa case after Japanese husband is unfaithful
A landmark Supreme court ruling in October 2002 denied the visa of a Thai woman lawfully married to a Japanese man who was unfaithful to her after a long legal process during which she tested and challenged the laws regarding spousal visas.
Peaccai Matchid had come to Japan in 1983 on a tourist visa but married her Japanese husband in Thailand in 1988. She returned to Japan in 1989 to live. One year later her husband left the home he shared with the Thai woman admitting that he had fathered two children with another woman. The Thai woman was able to renew her visa for many years until it was refused in 1994 on the grounds that her marriage had broken down and she was living apart from her husband.
The law in Japan states that unless the wife is the mother of a Japanese child or citizen that there can be no visa where the woman is living apart from the Japanese man. The Thai woman took her case to Osaka district court in 1996 where her visa was denied but appealed successfully in 1998 to Japanese High Court. However in 2002 the Japanese Supreme court endorsed the original interpretation and finally rejected her case. The Thai woman had not achieved permanent residency while living with her Japanese husband and the union was childless. These were the salient facts and the case represents a lesson for all Thai women thinking of finding a Japanese husband and living in Japan.
Warning about dubious contracts or marriage proposals in Japan
'Most Thai women know little about the exact details of the law but the extent of human trafficking and the sex trade between Japan and Thailand has caused many Thai women to be wary,' says Carla Boonkong. 'On the other hand, Japanese men are very well liked in Thailand and there are many successful relationships here in Thailand. Thai women also know that Japan is a very rich country but today they simply have more options and they are more informed.'
Caral Boonkong would not advise a Thai woman to make a mail order bride arrangement with a third party or to accept dubious contracts involving work in Japan. 'I know that there are many operators out there and there is still a lucrative mail order bride trade but my advise to all Thai women is to go online, be patient and learn about the world out there. Japanese men seeking Thai women should send on information and pictures about the Japanese culture and their own personal living environment so that any move can be made easier and less challenging. Thai woman have received similar positive images from friends living in the America, Australia the United Kingdom and European countries. Japan is a very beautiful country so why not?'
In a 2014 online survey involving over 600 respondents Japanese men were nominated by Thai women as the sexiest and most desirable while tellingly most Thai women online sought foreign husbands in England or Switzerland.
Thai TV star pays respects to Japanese father
One of Thailand's leading TV superstars has an adopted Japanese step father but is the natural son of an Austrian national. Nadech Kugimiya is well on the way to becoming a household name in Thailand but his story illustrates the high regard accorded to many Japanese men in Thailand today. Born in Khon Kaen, Thailand, Nadech is the younger son of Thai mother Sudarat who is married to Japanese man Yoshio Kugima.
In a 2011 magazine interview, the Thai man known to audiences by his nickname Barry revealed a personal secret. He was really of Thai Austrian descent but had always portrayed himself as Thai Japanese out of respect for his Japanese adopted father.
'My foster father is Japanese. I told everyone I am half Thai, half Japanese to honour him.' Barry denied that his Thai Austrian descent was something he attempted to mask. Tellingly, he also revealed that his Japanese father had not thought him to speak Japanese instead the family grew up using Thai as the main language. 'As a fan I think it reflects well on the respect and appreciation for Japanese men in Thailand,' says Carla Boonkong.
Thai women search for husbands in Japan
Up to ten years ago, Thai women attempting to find Japanese husbands through marriage agencies was a growth business. Since then there has been a change of emphasis as the Japanese economy has declined and Thai women have more options.
'There are many agents out there, many of them also are women who promise Thai women a new life in Japan but it can be dangerous,' says Carla Boonkong. 'Many older men like the idea of a go between or marriage agencies but this can be challenging for Thai women who are increasingly more discerning and the reason is that they have more options. Today Thai women use the internet, some still use agencies but it can be very expensive, I certainly would avoid lone operators or agents who have no reputation.'
'There are still middle aged Japanese men who come to Thailand to find a wife and they are still online. But now there are younger Japanese men also, many who are already working in Thailand. These young Japanese men are very popular with Thai women and Bangkok women even more so. But here there has not been a drop since the economy went into decline in Japan as many Japanese companies have come to Thailand and with them have come some Japanese men also. Sure, Japanese men seeking Thai women online today have jobs and seem to know what they are looking for.' Carla suggests that it is really Thai women who need to learn more about Japan such as working conditions, language, customer and the weather.
Japanese man talks about late Thai wife
Taro Kamiya is Japanese man who lived with and married a Thai wife in 1984. Sadly in 2010 his Thai wife died and he has not yet found a new life partner. He speaks about his experience and offers advice to other Japanese men thinking about a Thai wife or looking for a Thai life partner online. 'It was not so hard for my wife to adapt to life in Japan. She really liked the weather in Japan and enjoyed wearing warm clothes. She would keep her warm clothes in our home in japan and looked forward each year to wearing them,' he says. Tarao and his wife lived between Thailand and Japan returning to Japan for important occasions and work.
Taro says Thai women must choose the right Japanese man but he thinks that this should not be so difficult. 'I think a Thai woman living in Japan must find the right Japanse mate but this is not so hard since there are many good men in Japan. Even in Thailand I would say there are many good women also.'
Taro Kamiya's wife was from Phetchaburi province in Thailand and the couple built a home there. Taro still returns each year. Taro advises Japanese men looking for a Thai wife to consider the following points:
- Do not get emotionally involved with a Thai bar girl: 'It is good for young men to enjoy what is on offer if a man is so inclined but it is no basis to contemplate a relationship with a woman.' He says he met his wife on a business trip to Bangkok and from the outset he was impressed in by her efficiency and people skills. 'I knew quickly that Pang would be a good wife and someone who could help me to be more successful in my life and this is how it worked out,' he says.
- Find a Thai woman that loves her family: Find an old fashioned Thai woman who respects culture and is interested in taking care of her husband: 'I think this type of woman is being challenged and it is a mistake. In Japan many women are walking away from these ways and that is a great loss.'
Taro has two grown sons and a daughter who live and work in Japan but return to Thailand regularly. 'Thailand is part of our life and it where I can still be close to my good wife,' he smiles. He is not sure whether he wants to find a new partner. Although he would like to see one of his son's settle with a Thai woman. 'They are so busy right now but it would be a good thing if life happens to run that way.'
Reasons why Thai women make good wives for Japanese men
Taro thinks that Thai women are very like old fashioned traditional Japanese women except that there is a distinct cultural difference. 'I think my life with my Thai wife was wonderful and the thing that made it so was the excellent difference in cultures, she began to enjoy everything Japanese but she always loved her own country and she was always a Thai woman. To this day I come back to Thailand. because of her, I feel part of Thailand too and of course my children.
Thai woman with a Japanese husband
Ant is forty two years old and lives in Khon Khaen. She owns a farm and a well established hairdressing and beauty business. She has an older Japanese husband and is not interested in dating other foreign guys.
'I am happy with my husband, we have a good relationship but I prefer to stay in Thailand.' Although Ant cheerfully talks about her Japanese husband, she is guarded at the same time. It is clear that she is proud of her relationship. 'Our financial arrangements are really private but my husband is a strong man and I am a strong woman too,' she laughs.
Ant recommends Thai women seeking a foreign partner to meet a Japanese man in Thailand and would advise against traveling to Japan without a plan or preparation. 'It is a very special country but a woman must know her place before she would travel there, there are many agents in this area who will tell young Thai women they will find a husband in Japan but I would not go that route and I will tell my friends also. I can speak enough Japanese but my husband can speak Thai nearly fluently,' she tells us.
Thai woman seeks Japanese man online
Beam has a teenage son and lives in Chaiyaphum province in Thailand. Now she spends her time on the internet looking for a foreign partner but she is getting old. At 42 years with responsibility for a son, she is hoping to meet perhaps an older man who wants to settle in Thailand. She has many friends online from the United States of America, Australia and some Scandinavian countries.
But she really would like to find a Japanese husband who would like to live in Thailand. As a young girl she was always fascinated with Manga, Japanese cartoons and culture. Beam lived in Japan for six years while obtaining her degree there. She can easily get a visa to work in Japan there she would only do so if she can find the right Japanese man.
'It is not so easy on the internet as there are not as many Japanese men that are my age and often they are looking for a younger women,' she says. She began online dating four years ago. As well as online dating friends she has had a number of more serious interests including a man from Belgium who visited her in 2013. 'He was ten years older and very nice but I think when he come to Thailand , he did not like it so much,' she says.
She is currently expecting a visitor from Germany although this man is 15 years older and she is between minds. 'I am open minded but I am not just a Thai women looking for an old rich farang, I am looking for something more, there has to be a good relationship.'
Beam can speak fluent Japanese as well as English and works part time in a local sports factory which is Japanese owned. She lived in Japan for four years attending university learning business management and Japanese. She has a prestigious degree from a university in Tokyo. Although she is well educated, she is not well off as her salary is below what she might earn in Bangkok. She stays at home because she feels that it is good place for her son who is half Japanese. Beam was once married to a Japanese man in Tokyo but the relationship was not successful.
Thai woman's relationship in Japan fails
'I was an innocent Thai girl in Japan and I was not very interested in finding a Japanese husband at all but this handsome Japanese boy saw me at university and he really liked me,' she says. Beam at first resisted but the the Japanese boy was determined and she eventually relented. He was from a wealthy family but after she married him, she found he was very controlling and at the same time irresponsible with money. 'He would look for money from his family and would not let me work, he then started to become violent and I was afraid for my boy. I had finished my degree and I decided that the relationship was not good for me. This is why I do not want to go back to Japan but I have always thought that it would be nice to find a nice Japanese man,' she says.
In the meantime Beam struggles to survive in Chaiyaphum province in Thailand and to educate her 13 year old Japanese son. She knows that with her son's Japanese citizenship, she can get a visa to live in Japan but it is not what she wants. 'I want to be with my family in Thailand. Maybe when he is older my son can live in Japan but I am happy to work here.
Thai woman's heartbreaking story about love in Japan
Chutima is thirty seven years old from Kalasin province in Thailand. Twelve years ago she was a victim of human trafficking when she went to work at snack bar in Chaba prefecture in Japan. In Japan something strange happened. Chutima became a favourite of the owner of the snack bar (a front for sex) who took her for his wife.
Chutima's trip to Japan came about as she was obligated to take on a debt when her father died young. The amount was 500,000 baht approx. Chutima paid the money back after working in a few months but ended up marrying the owner of the snack bar.
Her husband entered her name on the family registration book in his name and everything seemed to be in order in her mind. 'My life was good and I loved my husband very much,' she recalls. After five years a chance encounter with the police caused Chutima to go to the Immigration office and she was told that she had over stayed illegally and would have to be deported. She was arrested and forcibly repatriated to Thailand.
In a bizarre admission she tells us that she has never heard from her husband again despite making phone calls and sending emails. Chutima has a limited education and her story does not sound credible. She tells us that her only wish is that he husband is happy and she worries about him. 'I think this is a very sad story' says Carla Boonkong 'It only illustrates the emotional distress and damage caused by this trade and the room for manipulation.'
Chutima is currently online looking for a Japanese partner or some way to return to Japan but the fact that she was deported from Japan will make such an objective very difficult.
What Japanese men are looking for in Thai women
'I think that things have changed in Thailand over the last ten years. Many older Japanese men are surprised by this but there are still many new Thai Japanese relationships being formed and I think they are successful,' says Carla Boonkong in Bangkok.
Despite the economic challenges in Japan and the blight of human trafficking, many Thai women are anxious to meet Japanese men and although many would prefer to live in Thailand, every year thousands continue to migrate to Japan.
A recent study from academics in Khon Kaen into Thai women married to Japanese men revealed that such relationships were not entirely based on financial considerations but more on 'love and understanding' between the parties and the two cultures.
Not surprisingly it did identify that Thai women seeking marriage with Japanese men were motivated also by financial considerations and a desire for economic stability. Nearly all looked forward to financial support from a Japanese husband.
The study also revealed that many Thai women from provinces in Isaan were interested in working in Japan and making a new life in the country at the outset of seeking a relationship. It appears that Japan is an option considered by many Thai women who have finished education or have worked in Thailand for years. The age profile of Thai women seeking Japanese partners is a little higher than Thai women seeking relationships in the America, Australia and Scandinavian European countries. It is a similar profile to Thai women seeking lives in Germany, Austria and middle European countries,' says Carla Boonkong.
According to the Khon Kaen study:
- Japanese men expect more obedience from thai women than other marriage partners.
- Thai women are very interested in finding 'culturally harmony' from their relationships with Japanese husbands.
- Thai families expected their daughters and nieces to receive financial support from Japanese husbands.
It is clear that this is a time of change and uncertainty in Japan. However the bonds and attraction between Thailand and Japan are still very strong and continue to be the foundation of many happy love relationships. 'To say something more positive about Thai women and Japan, one thing we can see that is that for Thai women from more affluent backgrounds thinking of foreign love partner, Japanese men come out as the most desirable but also they are more mysterious, perhaps this is also part of the story,' concludes Carla Boonkong.