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Can 1st cousins marry in Japan?


In this article, we will explore the topic of first cousins marrying in Japan. Cousin marriage has been a controversial topic for centuries, and it is important to understand the legal and cultural aspects of this issue. In Japan, there are specific laws and regulations that govern cousin marriage. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of these laws and the social attitudes towards cousin marriage in Japan.

Legal Aspects of Cousin Marriage in Japan

In Japan, there are no laws that prohibit first cousins from marrying. However, there are certain conditions that must be met before a marriage can take place. For example, both parties must be at least 20 years old and have the consent of their parents or guardians. Additionally, the couple must not be related by blood within the sixth degree of kinship.

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Cultural Attitudes Towards Cousin Marriage in Japan

While cousin marriage is legal in Japan, it is not widely accepted in Japanese society. Many people view cousin marriage as taboo and some consider it to be incestuous. The reasons for this attitude vary, but one possible explanation is that cousin marriage was traditionally discouraged in Japan due to concerns about genetic defects.

Historical Context of Cousin Marriage in Japan

Cousin marriage has a long history in Japan, with some evidence dating back to the 8th century. In the past, cousin marriage was common among aristocratic families as a way to maintain family wealth and power. However, this practice declined during the Meiji period (1868-1912) when Japan underwent modernization and Westernization.

Genetic Risks Associated with Cousin Marriage

One of the main concerns about cousin marriage is the potential for genetic defects in offspring. Studies have shown that children born to first cousins have a higher risk of birth defects and developmental disorders than those born to unrelated parents. However, the risk is relatively low and varies depending on factors such as age, health status, and family history.

Medical Screening for Cousin Marriage in Japan

To address concerns about genetic risks, some Japanese municipalities require couples who are closely related to undergo medical screening before they can get married. The screening typically involves genetic testing and counseling to assess the risk of passing on genetic disorders to their children.

International Perspectives on Cousin Marriage

Cousin marriage is not unique to Japan and is practiced in many countries around the world. However, attitudes towards cousin marriage vary widely depending on cultural and religious beliefs. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, cousin marriage is common and socially acceptable. In others, such as the United States and Europe, it is generally discouraged or even illegal.

Religious Perspectives on Cousin Marriage

In some religions, cousin marriage is considered taboo or forbidden. For example, in Islam, marrying one’s cousin is allowed but discouraged unless there is a compelling reason such as preserving family wealth or preventing adultery. In Christianity, cousin marriage was once allowed but later banned by the Catholic Church due to concerns about incest.

The Debate Over Cousin Marriage

The debate over cousin marriage has been ongoing for centuries and continues today. Supporters argue that it is a personal choice and should be allowed as long as both parties are consenting adults. Opponents argue that it poses significant health risks to offspring and undermines social norms against incest.

The Future of Cousin Marriage in Japan

It is difficult to predict what the future holds for cousin marriage in Japan. While attitudes towards it may be changing among younger generations, it is still viewed as taboo by many older Japanese people. Given the potential genetic risks associated with cousin marriage, it is likely that medical screening will continue to be required in some municipalities.


In conclusion, while first cousins are legally allowed to marry in Japan, social attitudes towards cousin marriage remain largely negative. The potential genetic risks associated with cousin marriage have led some municipalities to require medical screening before allowing marriages between close relatives. Despite these concerns, cousin marriage remains a personal choice that should ultimately be left up to individuals and their families to decide.

How common is it to marry your cousin in Japan?

Under Japanese law, first cousins are allowed to get married. However, the rate of cousin marriages in Japan has reportedly decreased from past years. A study in 1983 found that 1.6% of all marriages in Japan were between cousins. If I have feelings for my first cousin, is it morally acceptable to get married?

Is it OK to marry your 1st cousin?

Marriage between first cousins is allowed without any limitations in certain states such as New York, California, and Florida. However, in several other states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Texas, this type of marriage is completely prohibited.

What cultures marry first cousins?

Cousin marriage is a more common practice among individuals of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Middle Eastern, some Indian origin, Irish travellers, and certain refugee populations. The degree to which this custom is observed varies among these groups.

Which US states allow first cousin marriages?

SummaryStateFirst cousin marriage allowedFirst-cousin marriages voidAlabamaYesYesAlaskaNoYesArizonaOnly if both parties are 65 or older, or one is infertileYesArkansasNoYes47 more rows

What countries marry their cousins the most?

Pakistan has one of the highest rates of cousin marriages worldwide, with 65%, followed by India at 55%, Saudi Arabia at 50%, Afghanistan at 40%, Iran at 30%, and Egypt and Turkey both at 20%. (Source: [5], as of April 14, 2022.)

What is the age of consent in Japan?

Currently, Japan has the lowest age of consent among developed countries and the G7 nations, with 13-year-old children considered old enough to consent. However, a panel from the Japanese justice ministry has suggested increasing the age of consent from 13 to 16. This proposal was made on February 22, 2023.

It is important to note that the issue of cousin marriage is not just a matter of legal and cultural attitudes, but also has significant implications for public health. In many countries where cousin marriage is common, there are higher rates of certain genetic disorders and birth defects. This can put a strain on healthcare systems and lead to increased healthcare costs.

Furthermore, the debate over cousin marriage raises important questions about personal freedom and cultural values. While some argue that individuals should have the right to marry whomever they choose, others believe that cultural norms and traditions should be respected and upheld. It is important to find a balance between these competing interests in order to ensure the well-being of individuals and society as a whole.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in genetic counseling and testing as a way to address the potential risks associated with cousin marriage. This can help couples make informed decisions about their reproductive choices and reduce the likelihood of passing on genetic disorders to their children. As medical technology continues to advance, it is likely that genetic testing will play an increasingly important role in debates over cousin marriage.

Ultimately, the issue of cousin marriage is complex and multifaceted, with legal, cultural, and medical implications. While there is no easy solution, it is important to engage in thoughtful and respectful dialogue in order to find a path forward that balances individual freedom with public health and cultural values. By doing so, we can ensure that all members of society are able to make informed choices about their relationships and reproductive choices.

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