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Is polygamy legal in Japan?


Polygamy is a topic that has been debated over the years, with some cultures embracing it while others condemning it. Japan is one of the countries where polygamy has been a part of its history, but is it legal today?

History of Polygamy in Japan

Polygamy has been a part of Japanese culture since ancient times, with some samurai having multiple wives. During the Edo period, concubines were common among the wealthy class, and some emperors had multiple wives. However, after World War II, the Japanese government banned polygamy in 1947.

Japanese Snack Box

Current Laws on Polygamy in Japan

Polygamy is illegal in Japan under the Civil Code Article 733. This law states that “a person who is already married shall not marry another person.” Violation of this law can result in imprisonment for up to six months or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

Special Cases of Polygamy in Japan

Although polygamy is generally illegal in Japan, there are some exceptions. For example, if someone marries outside of Japan where polygamy is legal and brings their spouse back to Japan, they may be allowed to have multiple wives. Additionally, there are some religious sects that practice polygamy despite its illegality.

Penalties for Polygamy in Japan

Anyone found guilty of practicing polygamy in Japan can face severe penalties. In addition to imprisonment or fines, they may also face social stigma and discrimination. Moreover, any children born from these marriages may not be recognized by the Japanese government.

Reasons for Banning Polygamy in Japan

Japan’s decision to ban polygamy was influenced by Western ideas and values. After World War II, the country underwent significant cultural changes as it opened up to the world. The government believed that monogamous marriages would promote gender equality and improve society’s welfare.

Cultural Attitudes towards Polygamy in Japan

Despite its illegality, some people in Japan still view polygamy positively. Some believe that it is a way to ensure a man’s family line continues or to provide financial support for multiple women. However, many younger generations view polygamy as outdated and unfair to women.

International Perspectives on Polygamy in Japan

Polygamy is illegal in most countries worldwide. The United Nations has condemned polygamy as a violation of human rights and gender equality. However, some cultures still practice it openly or secretly.

Alternatives to Polygamy in Japan

For those who desire multiple partners or companionship, Japan offers alternatives to polygamy. One popular option is enjo-kosai, where young women offer companionship and sometimes sexual services to older men in exchange for money or gifts.

The Impact of Polyamory on Japanese Society

Polyamory, which involves consensual non-monogamous relationships between multiple partners, is gaining popularity worldwide. However, it remains a taboo topic in Japan where societal pressure to conform and maintain traditional values is still strong.


In conclusion, polygamy is illegal in Japan under Civil Code Article 733. Although it was once an accepted practice, Western influence and changes in society have led to its eradication. While some may still view polygamy positively, it remains a violation of human rights and gender equality.


1) “Legal Status of Polygamous Marriages.” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

2) “Polyamory: A New Way to Love?” The Japan Times.

3) “Enjo-kosai: Japan’s ‘Compensated Dating’.” BBC News.

How many spouses can you have in Japan?

Getting married in Japan has many intricacies. If you are already married, you cannot legally marry in Japan unless you divorce or annul your current marriage, as having more than one spouse is not allowed. Additionally, women are prohibited from remarrying within six months of their divorce.

When did Japan ban polygamy?

Japan chose to ban polygamy in 1880, unlike other societies which may have had to give in to pressure to do so. In the last century, most societies have made polygamy illegal, leading to the majority of people living in such societies.

Is polygamy illegal in Korea?

In South Korea, it is against the law to practice bigamy. This rule was established on November 26, 2019.

What countries is polygamy illegal?

As of 2023, there are various countries where polygamy is legal, including Namibia and Niger where it is allowed under customary law despite being illegal under civil law. In Nepal, polygamy is technically illegal but still practiced, while in Nigeria it is only legal for up to four wives in Sharia Muslim states.

What happens if you have more than 2 Child in Japan?

According to the policy, individuals with more than two children are not eligible for government employment or benefits, such as housing or participation in local body elections. ET Magazine explores similar restrictions imposed by countries globally, as well as incentives offered to encourage higher birth rates. The report was published on April 17th, 2017.

What is the age of consent in Japan?

Japan is planning to increase the age of consent from 13 to 16, as current laws have been criticized for failing to adequately protect children from sexual offenses such as rape. This change in legislation is set to go into effect on February 21, 2023.

4) Despite the ban on polygamy, there have been cases of men in Japan having multiple wives or mistresses. Such cases have often made news headlines and sparked debates on whether the law should be enforced more strictly. In some instances, these relationships have resulted in legal battles over inheritance and child custody.

5) The practice of polygamy is also prevalent in some rural areas of Japan, where men may have multiple wives to help with farm work and child-rearing. These relationships are often hidden from authorities and society, making it difficult to enforce the ban on polygamy.

6) While polygamy may be illegal, there are still those who advocate for its legalization in Japan. Some argue that it is a matter of personal freedom and choice, while others believe that it could address the issue of Japan’s declining birth rate.

7) The issue of polygamy in Japan highlights the ongoing tensions between traditional values and modernization. While the country has made significant progress in promoting gender equality and individual rights, there are still cultural attitudes that persist, particularly in rural areas or among older generations.

8) In recent years, there has been growing interest in alternative forms of relationships in Japan, such as open marriages or polyamory. While still considered taboo by many, these practices challenge traditional notions of monogamy and could lead to further changes in societal attitudes towards relationships and marriage.

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