People are marrying later and having less children.

In Japan people are turning more and more to “marriage consultation” and “spouse hunting” services to find that special someone. Although these have far more widespread acceptance that in other cultures, they are still not yet advertised on TV. But in a measure of how mainstream they have become (and how lucrative), TV advertising for such consultation agencies may be about to happen.

If approved by the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association, we could see marriage consultation agencies’ ads hitting our small screens in the autumn.

japan marriage introductory arranged services wedding

The commercials will probably feature popular female celebrities who will appeal to wannabe brides who will look up to the glamorous models and actresses. Being a singleton needn’t be the desperate life that Bridget Jones had us believe, if the smiles of the famous ladies are to be believed.

Spouse introductory services are essentially extensions of the arranged marriages that used to take place until relatively recently. Although people had a choice, couples often met in Japan through being introduced via a mediator, even in the postwar era.

Today these commercial services include businesses operated by the likes of Rakuten and Aeon, Japan’s largest retailers online and offline respectively. They all have healthy marketing budgets that TV channels will be grateful for.

The only reason that they don’t yet advertise on TV is due to current regulations of the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association, which stipulate that it cannot accept advertising from businesses that survey private matters. This is why you don’t see TV ads also for private detective services (also quite common in Japan) or even market research and survey firms. The rule is set to be revised to make marriage information services an exception, paving the way for TV ads to start broadcasting in November.

The pressure to do this hasn’t just been greedy TV executives eager for more advertising dough. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) was also braying for the rules to be changed to allow introductory services to expand. More marriages means more children, which might just save Japan’s coming fiscal and demographic crisis.


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