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Can cousins marry each other in Japan?

Can Cousins Marry Each Other in Japan?


In Japan, the question of whether cousins can marry each other is a complex and controversial issue. While some countries prohibit cousin marriage outright, Japan has historically allowed it under certain conditions. In recent years, however, there has been growing concern over the potential risks to offspring of cousin marriages. This article explores the legal and cultural aspects of cousin marriage in Japan and the debates surrounding it.

Japanese Snack Box

History of Cousin Marriage in Japan

Cousin marriage has a long history in Japan and was once considered a common practice. In fact, during the Edo period (1603-1868), marriages between cousins were often arranged to strengthen family ties and alliances. However, after World War II, the Japanese government began discouraging cousin marriage due to concerns over genetic abnormalities.

Current Legal Status of Cousin Marriage in Japan

Today, cousin marriage is legal in Japan but with some restrictions. First cousins are allowed to marry only if they are both over 20 years old and have undergone genetic counseling. If the counseling reveals a high risk of genetic abnormalities, the couple may still marry but must agree not to have children together.

Cultural Attitudes Towards Cousin Marriage

Despite the legal restrictions, cousin marriage remains somewhat taboo in Japanese society. Many people view it as a relic of an outdated tradition and believe that it is no longer necessary or desirable. Others argue that it is a personal choice and should be respected as such.

Arguments For Cousin Marriage

Advocates of cousin marriage argue that it is a personal choice that should be protected by law. They also claim that there is no conclusive evidence that cousin marriages are more likely to produce genetically abnormal offspring than other types of marriages.

Arguments Against Cousin Marriage

Opponents of cousin marriage argue that it poses a significant risk to the health of offspring. They point to studies that show that children born to first cousins are at higher risk for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome.

The Debate Over Genetic Counseling

One of the most contentious aspects of the cousin marriage debate in Japan is genetic counseling. Some argue that it is an important tool for reducing the risk of genetic abnormalities, while others claim that it is an unnecessary and invasive intrusion into personal lives.

The Role of Culture in Cousin Marriage

Culture plays a significant role in attitudes towards cousin marriage in Japan. Some argue that it is a tradition that should be preserved as part of Japan’s cultural heritage, while others believe that it is an outdated practice that has no place in modern society.

International Perspectives on Cousin Marriage

Japan is not unique in allowing cousin marriage. In fact, many countries, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, have high rates of cousin marriage. However, other countries, such as the United States and Canada, prohibit cousin marriage altogether.

The Future of Cousin Marriage in Japan

The debate over cousin marriage in Japan is likely to continue for some time. While some believe that it should be abolished altogether, others argue that it should be allowed under certain conditions. Ultimately, the decision will depend on a wide range of factors, including legal, cultural, and scientific considerations.


In conclusion, cousin marriage remains a complex and controversial issue in Japan. While the legal restrictions have reduced its prevalence in recent years, the debate over whether it should be allowed or banned altogether continues. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that cousin marriage will remain a topic of discussion for some time to come.

Which countries allow cousins to marry?

In the Middle East and other Muslim countries like Pakistan, marriages between second cousins or closer, known as consanguinity, are permitted and even encouraged. As of 2003, around 45% of married couples in the Arab world were related.

Can 2 cousins marry each other?

In the US, it is legal to marry second cousins in all states, but first cousins can only legally marry in approximately half of the states. This information was last reported on October 16, 2019.

How many countries is it legal to marry your cousin?

Although cousin marriage is legal in many western countries and in some parts of Asia, it is not permitted in Taiwan, North and South Korea, the Philippines, China, and 24 US states. Globally, over 10% of marriages are between first or second cousins.

What states can 1st cousins marry?

This chart shows the rules for first cousin and first-cousin-once-removed marriage in each state. Alaska and California allow both types of marriages, while Arizona only allows them if certain conditions are met. Arkansas and most other states allow first cousin marriage, but not first-cousin-once-removed.

Can first cousins marry in Japan?

In Japan, marrying a first cousin is legal but has become less common over time. China has prohibited marrying first cousins since 1981, although it was a common practice in rural areas in the past, especially with cross-cousin marriage.

Can I marry my cousin in USA?

There are 24 states that do not allow first cousins to marry, while 20 states and the District of Columbia allow cousin marriage. Six states have certain conditions that must be met before first-cousin marriage is allowed.

The Impact of Technology on Cousin Marriage

Advancements in technology have also had an impact on attitudes towards cousin marriage in Japan. With the rise of online dating and social media, people are increasingly able to meet and connect with individuals from outside their immediate family circles. This has led some to question the continued relevance of cousin marriage in modern Japanese society.

The Influence of Religion on Cousin Marriage

Religion is also a factor in attitudes towards cousin marriage in Japan. While Shintoism, the indigenous religion of Japan, does not have any specific teachings on cousin marriage, Buddhism, which also has a significant presence in Japan, generally discourages it. This has led some to argue that religious beliefs should be taken into consideration when discussing cousin marriage.

The Importance of Education on Cousin Marriage

Education is another important factor when it comes to attitudes towards cousin marriage. Many people in Japan may not be fully aware of the potential health risks associated with cousin marriages, and greater education and awareness-raising efforts may be needed to help shift public opinion.

The Need for a Comprehensive Approach

Ultimately, addressing the issue of cousin marriage in Japan will require a comprehensive approach that takes into account legal, cultural, scientific, religious, and educational factors. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, by working together and engaging in open and respectful dialogue, it may be possible to find a way forward that respects individual choice while also prioritizing the health and well-being of future generations.

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