historic mating patterns in japan

readers (luke & jayman) request: what about the japanese? well, we aim to please… (^_^)

the japanese definitely have a history of cousin and endogamous marriages. i’m not sure, yet, how far back it goes (although i’m going to guess pretty d*rn far), but between 1912 and 1925 the consanguinity (first-/second-cousin) marriage rate for japan was 22.4% [pg. 29]. compare that to italy toward the beginning of the twentieth century or to some of the arab countries today. compare it also to the first cousin marriage rate amongst rural english folks in the 1870s: 2.25% (4.5% for the peerage).

but it’s been decreasing ever since (looks like a stock market crash – pg. 30):

by wwii the rate was only about 12.3%, and nowadays it’s like 4% (3.9% in 1983).

imaizumi, the author of the article to which i’ve linked above, also found in the early 1980s that 27% of recently married japanese folks had married endogamously, while amongst the oldest folks studied, 40% had married endogamously [pg. 39]. so endogamous marriages have also declined in japan over the course of the twentieth century. still, more than 1 in 4 japanese entered into an endogamous marriage in the ’80s (or maybe the late 1970s).

seems like the shintoists practice cousin marriage most frequently, followed by buddhists, and is lowest amongst catholics. farmers/fishermen, blue collar workers, the self-employed and people working in services (like transportation) inbreed the most, whereas white collar workers, salesmen and professionals inbreed the least.

note: the type of cousin marriage practiced in japan is mostly mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage as in china. more on that in the next post on japan. that’s important because mbd marriage amounts to less inbreeding (i think) than the arab type of cousin marriage (father’s brother daughter or fbd marriage) since all of the marriages do NOT occur exclusively in one lineage. in mbd marriage, at least more than one other lineage is involved.

the events of the meiji period obviously shook up the social structures in japan a LOT, but i wonder if cousin marriage/endogamy was officially — or even unofficially — discouraged in any way during that time period. i’m wondering if what happened in europe starting in the early medieval period regarding mating patterns has sorta been repeated in japan, only starting in the nineteenth century. -?-

goes to show, too, how rapidly cousin marriage rates can drop — within one generation in japan cousin marriage rates halved. maybe this could happen only amongst east asians who are big into conformity, but it’s something to keep in mind when trying to imagine what happened in europe in the medieval period, i.e. that things could’ve moved pretty quickly.

more anon!

previously: on the non-violent japanese of today

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the japanese – still classy

remember how the japanese didn’t loot and pillage after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster? well, now they’re showing off again:

“Honest Japanese Return $78 Million in Cash Found in Quake Rubble”

“The earthquake and tsunami that walloped Japan left much of its coastline ravaged, but left one thing intact: the Japanese reputation for honesty.

“In the five months since the disaster struck, people have turned in thousands of wallets found in the debris, containing $48 million in cash.

“More than 5,700 safes that washed ashore along Japan’s tsunami-ravaged coast have also been hauled to police centers by volunteers and search and rescue crews. Inside those safes officials found $30 million in cash. One safe alone, contained the equivalent of $1 million.

“The National Police Agency says nearly all the valuables found in the three hardest hit prefectures, have been returned to their owners….”

gotta love the japanese! they are pretty awesome. (^_^)

despite all the honesty flowing around everywhere in japan, they don’t seem to trust banks very much (not that i blame them!):

“The stashing of cash in safes isn’t a unique problem in Japan, where many people prefer to keep their money at home….”

huh.

previously: on the non-violent japanese of today and they might be waaaaycists…

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suicide in japan

good lord:

“In 2009, the number of suicides rose 2 percent to 32,845 exceeding 30,000 for the twelfth straight year and equating to nearly 26 suicides per 100,000 people. This amounts to approximately one suicide every 15 minutes. However, this figure is somewhat disputed since it is arguably capped by the conservative definition of ‘suicide’ that has been adopted by the Japanese authorities, which differs from the WHO’s definition. Some people thus suggest a rather larger figure of 100,000 suicides a year. Currently, the conservative per year estimate is still significantly higher than for any other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) country. In comparison, the UK rate is about 9 per 100,000, and the US rate around 11 per 100,000….

“Typically most suicides are men; over 71% of suicide victims in 2007 were male. In 2009, the number of suicides among men rose 641 to 23,472 (with those age 40–69 accounting for 40.8% of the total). Suicide was the leading cause of death among men age 20–44. Males are two times more likely to cause their own deaths after a divorce than females. Nevertheless, suicide is still the leading cause of death for women age 15–34 in Japan….” [source]

genes contribute to suicide, of course (to paraphrase dennis, how could they not?) — 30-50% of the variance in suicide rates can be accounted for by genetics.

as an extension of that, ethnicity clearly plays a role in suicide. For example: “[I]n the U.S., non-Hispanic Caucasians are nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than African Americans or Hispanics.” and, of course, there’s the finns and ugrics.

perhaps suicide is altruistic — a person removes his genes from the gene-pool when he feels he has failed in some way (failure presumably negatively affecting one’s inclusive fitness). certainly in japan they have had long traditions of taking one’s own life in connection with one’s honor and, perhaps most tellingly, the honor of one’s family.

or maybe they just don’t handle alcohol.

an interesting side note: suicide has not been documented in any other animals.

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