Meet Market July 26, 2009Posted by Dwight Furrow in Culture, Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
Tags: konkatsu, marriage crisis, speed-dating
Marriage hunting has become big business in Japan.
Government data show the percentage of unmarried people surged from 14% to 47% for men aged 30 to 34 and from 8% to 32% for women over the three decades ending in 2005.
This year Japan has gone konkatsu-crazy, with the trend spawning countless magazine articles, a weekly TV drama and a best-selling book.
A Tokyo shrine now offers konkatsu prayer services, a Hokkaido baseball team has set up special seats for those looking for mates, and a Tokyo ward office arranges dating excursions to restaurants and aquariums.
A lingerie maker has even come up with a konkatsu bra with a ticking clock that can be stopped by inserting an engagement ring.
Think of it as speed-dating gone corporate and aimed at marriage rather than “relationship”.
Even governments are getting into the business:
Japan’s government has thrown its support behind konkatsu to boost the birth rate of just 1.37 children per woman, hoping to slow the decline of the ageing population, which is projected to shrink nearly 30 percent by 2055. […]
“Currently some 4,000 match-making agencies do business in Japan, with a total membership of some 620,000,” she said. “About half of local governments also give similar matching services, especially in rural farming areas.
How effective is this?
But the successful mating rate through such an agency stays as low as eight percent,” she added. “People don’t have communication skills good enough to find a partner, no matter how many candidates they meet.
Of course, speed-dating is entrenched in the U.S. as well, although I’m not aware of massive corporate or government support. I have no idea what their success rates are. But it seems to me this approach to finding a mate is unlikely to be successful if only because it puts a premium on personal traits—attractiveness, instantaneous charm, the ability to market oneself, and an exceedingly extroverted personality—that most people lack.
These kinds of artificially constructed meet-up strategies are clearly fulfilling a need in highly mobile, fragmented societies. But social norms that govern how people meet and develop relationships, if they are intended to be widely accepted and successful, cannot depend on traits that are not widely distributed throughout the population.
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