83 巻 (2010) 1 号 p. 1-14
This paper explores the roles of matchmaking agencies (MAs) in international marriages in contemporary Japan by identifying them from such sources as Yahoo Japan's website, telephone directory, and a website of international marriage agencies. With the selected agencies, in-depth interview surveys were conducted, and the following findings were obtained. Many MAs started matchmaking services due to their own personal experiences with international marriage. For Japanese men, the main motivation for international marriage is the difficulty of finding Japanese women to marry. Regarding the spatial distribution of Japanese clients, there is an obvious distance-decay tendency: the shorter the distance from a particular MA office, the more clients. MAs provide various kinds of advice about preparing documents to help foreign wives of Japanese clients acquire spouse visas. Although many MAs are conscientious, they are wary of unscrupulous agencies. Furthermore, based on interviews with immigration officials, at least one-third of all international marriages registered in Japan are agency-based marriages. These results suggest that the significance of MAs needs to be favorably evaluated in the context of Japan's current population, which started to decline in 2005. Foreign brides as new residents might obtain permanent residence status in Japan and should be supported by national and local governments.