It is quite obvious from any outside observer that the Japanese way of life is quite different from that of anywhere else on earth. One of the areas in which this difference has been seen is in male-female relationships, otherwise known as Danjyo Kankei. Some research will yield that Japan was originally said to be a female dominated society, which later transitioned to a male dominated society when Confucianism was introduced through Chinese influences. This influence has existed up until after World War 2 in which the concept of equal rights as well as later feminism were introduced into Japan. However, despite these influences Japan still appears to be a more conservative male oriented society in general.
Japanese people typically do not date until later after high school years due to high educational pressures, and if they even marry will not typically do so until their early 30s. A culmination of cultural norms concerning communication, societal expectations (education, work), and familial pressures seem to make the whole process awkward. In recent times due to a lowering population, changed ideas about sexuality, as well as more women entering the work force, it appears that fewer people are getting married at all. It does not help that a group of men have been labeled as 'herbivore men' for not having any desire for any kind of relationship at all. For those who are interested in relationships often group dating, various dating services, or omiai are considered ways to initiate relationships.
When Japanese do get married the typical scenario is for the man to work many long hours while the woman essentially stays behind to raise children in an almost single-parent style setup. It is expected for the man work long hours, stay out late after work to maintain harmony with his co-workers, and come back very late (past 10pm) at night each day. Often times the woman takes care of the house, children, financial, and spiritual aspects of the home. She can also be expected to be somewhat subservient to her new mother and father-in-law. For these reasons relationships in Japan are often strained, which has led to lowered expectations, affairs, and more room-mate like conditions. Relationships here rarely express affection and often seem to be taken for granted. Perhaps we can now understand one of the reasons as to why the population may be decreasing!
What does this mean for ministry purposes? It seems that perhaps with such a low emphasis on relationships that some serious desires for meaning of life as well as reason for relationships ought to be explored in detail. In a materialistic society less emphasis seems to be placed on children or human value in general, while more seems to be placed on the self-fulfilling desires. The Bible gives the solution to the problems Japan is facing in providing a guideline for living, reason to exist, and blessings from God Himself to those willing to follow Him. We should pray for the salvation of the Japanese people as well as direction and purpose!