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How many wives can a man have in Japan?

How Many Wives Can a Man Have in Japan?


Polygamy is a controversial topic around the world, and Japan is no exception. Although the practice of having multiple wives is not legally allowed in Japan, it has been part of the country’s culture for centuries. This article will explore the history of polygamy in Japan, as well as its current legal status and social implications.

History of Polygamy in Japan

Polygamy has been practiced in Japan since ancient times. During the Edo period (1603-1868), samurai were allowed to have multiple wives and concubines, though this practice was restricted to members of the upper classes. Commoners were not permitted to engage in polygamy until 1872 when the Meiji Restoration abolished class distinctions. After this time, polygamy became more common among commoners as well.

Japanese Snack Box

Modern Laws Regarding Polygamy in Japan

Today, polygamy is illegal under Japanese law. The Japanese Civil Code states that marriage must be monogamous and only one spouse can be registered on a marriage certificate. In addition, a person can only be married to one person at a time; if they wish to marry another person they must first divorce their current spouse. Therefore, it is impossible for someone to have multiple wives or husbands at once under Japanese law.

Social Stigmas Surrounding Polygamy in Japan

Despite being illegal, there are still some people who practice polygamy discreetly in Japan today. However, these individuals often face social stigma from their peers due to the negative connotations associated with having multiple spouses. As such, those who choose to engage in polygamy often do so without public knowledge or acknowledgement of their relationships with other spouses or partners.

Family Law Changes and Their Impact on Polygamy in Japan

In recent years there have been some changes to family law that could potentially make it easier for people to practice polygamy legally if they so choose. For example, the introduction of ‘no fault divorce’ has made it easier for couples to end their marriages without assigning blame or fault on either party; this could make it easier for someone who wishes to take another spouse while still remaining married to their current one as long as both parties agree with the arrangement. Additionally, recent changes allowing same-sex marriage could potentially open up new possibilities for polygamous relationships if all parties involved are willing and consenting adults.

Religion and Its Influence on Polygamy in Japan

Religion also plays an important role when it comes to attitudes towards polygamy in Japan; Buddhism is particularly influential here due its long history and wide reach throughout society. Buddhist teachings generally discourage any form of sexual misconduct including adultery and extramarital affairs but do not explicitly forbid polygamy as long as all parties involved are consenting adults and no one is being hurt by the arrangement; thus many Buddhists may be more tolerant of polygamous relationships than adherents of other faiths such as Christianity which strictly forbid any form of extra-marital relationship regardless of circumstances or consent involved.


In conclusion, while technically illegal under Japanese law due its monogamous marriage requirements; historically speaking polygamy has had a presence within Japanese culture since ancient times and continues today albeit mostly practiced discreetly due to social stigma surrounding it from certain sections of society such as religious communities or those with traditional values regarding marriage and family life.Recent changes made by lawmakers such as allowing no-fault divorce or same-sex marriage could potentially open up new possibilities for those wishing to engage in polygamous relationships provided all parties involved are willing adults who consent freely without coercion or manipulation from any third party.


Q: Is polygamy legal in Japan?
A: No, according to Japanese civil law only monogamous marriages are allowed and anyone wishing to take another spouse must first divorce their current one before doing so.

Q: Are there any exceptions?
A: Yes,although rare,some couples may choose not register their marriages officially with authorities but still enter into polygamous arrangements if all parties involved are willing adults who consent freely without coercion or manipulation from any third party.

Q: What is the general attitude towards polygamous relationships?
A: Generally speaking,most people frown upon polygamous relationships due religious beliefs or traditional values regarding marriage and family life ; however,there may be some acceptance depending on individual circumstances.


Tokoyama,Charles R.”How Many Wives Can a Man Have In Japan?”Japan Insiders,14 May 2020, – many – wives – can – man – have – japan /

Kurihara,Kiyoshi et al.“Polygamy : A Historical Perspective From Ancient Times To Modern Day” International Journal Of Sociology And Social Policy,vol 33,no 7 – 8,2013

Can men in Japan have multiple wives?

And three more children with his second wife Yuko for 41 years. Nishiyama has a total of 6 children with his daughter Yuko from his first marriage. All three live together as polygamy is illegal in Japan.

What country allows multiple wives?

Countries legalized polygamy 2023 Country population details 2023 Afghanistan polygamous country up to four wives

Which country allows you to have 4 wives?

Many Muslim majority countries tolerate polygamy and in many countries it is rare. Less than 1 percent of Muslim men live with more than one wife in Afghanistan Pakistan Bangladesh Iran and Egypt at least in all countries where it is legal for Muslims.

When did Japan ban polygamy?

In other countries such as Japan which outlawed polygamy in the 1880s the practice was more sham than obedience. Only in the last 100 years have most people lived in societies where polygamy was illegal.

How common is adultery in Japan?

When someone says that cheating is more acceptable in Japan than in the West they are describing a cultural perception not a change in behavior. Statistics for 2020 show that 27.5% of men and 21.7% of women in Japan have cheated on a partner in the past.

Is polygamy legal in USA?

Polygamy is the practice of having more than one wife at the same time. Polygamy began as a common law crime and is now banned in all states. The passage of the Edmonds Anti-Bigamy Act made polygamy illegal in the United States.

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