Increasing numbers of Asian men, particularly in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are marrying foreigners because fewer women in their homelands are willing to wed, a new study said on July 26.
The phenomenon, which dates back more than a decade, has even created a detectable trend in women’s migration, said the study by Daniele Belanger of the University of Western Ontario University.
In Taiwan, 15 per cent of wives were of foreign origin in 2009; eight per cent in South Korea.
In Japan, the phenomenon started earlier, in the 1980s, but has remained at a modest level: only five or six per cent of marriages in the mid-2000s involved foreign wives.
But in all three places, foreign brides represented the largest group of new immigrants apart from the temporary workers, wrote Belanger in the journal of France’s National Institute for Demographic Studies.
With women’s education levels rising, increasing numbers of them were not willing to settle for the traditional role of a wife. They preferred to keep their jobs and stay single.
For men however, “they have the responsibility to continue the paternal line by giving birth to a son and, in many cases, looking after their aged parents,” Belanger wrote.
The foreign brides generally came from China and Vietnam, and if at first this kind of marriage was more common among the rural poor, it subsequently spread to the urban middle classes.
Some observers have expressed fears that some of the brides involved are victims of trafficking.
But Belanger noted: “The great majority of migrant women marry of their own accord and not under parental pressure, and their objective is both to marry and to migrate.”