Ok, so a lot of people I know and/or are close with have been attacked and judged and put down for marrying their Japanese boyfriends and getting a marriage visa. Even more attacked when they have children.
There are several reasons why marriage is a common choice for foreigners to stay in Japan but let me go through the hardships of alternatives for staying without a marriage visa.
Student Visa: Tuition costs. Can work but work type and hours are limited. Hard to survive. Japan has an expectation that foreign students have parents or savings to live on. Also pretty much expected you return after your studies. Most teachers/counsellors get surprised when if you say you want to stay in Japan. Resources to help find work is limited
Work Visa: Generally requiring years of experience in a particular field or 4 year degree. There are many different kinds of work visas and you are not allowed to work outside your category.
Entertainment Visa: A little looser with job categories however, unlike normal work visas, they have to be reviewed every 3 months making sure you a significant amount of work during those times. Most models are flown in and out of Japan for their work.
Business Owner Visa: This one is kind of iffy. I don`t know much about it other than it costs a lot of money.
[There`s a few others but less common and not all that much more promising]
In order to obtain permanent residency, I believe first you must work and pay taxes for something like 5-10years consecutive years [it was 10 years when I first got here but some revisions have been made from what I heard] . Basically renew your visa every year and pay your taxes properly. Also, of course must not violate your visa status by doing any activities outside of your designated activities assigned in your visa.
In other words you are pretty much expected to be educated, rich and ready to jump through hoops like a circus.
But lets face the facts, who has that much money nowadays? Also jumping from visa to visa, there`s always a possibility of not qualifying one year so your home that you lived in for years might be just taken from right under you and you have to go back to your home country. You will never feel stable or safe until you get that permanent residency.
On top of this anxiety, the jobs that provide visas are not only high in demand and thus hard to get, but also don`t often pay so well. You can`t work outside of your designated field so nope can`t have that part time job to take care of hard times. Sure that`s ok if its only for a little while but picture this, you have to last 5-10years in this limbo. Lets say you get here when you are 20 by the time you are free to do whatever job you want you are likely almost 30. [not that its a bad thing being 30 but normally you might want to start thinking of buying a home or something by then but its kinda difficult when a] you don`t get paid enough to have savings b] cant work a 2nd job to even try c] you may have to go home at any given year because its all in the mercy of your visa luck ]
Think about it this way. In your country is it hard to get a job even though you went to University? Yes. But imagine if your opportunities are even smaller because you have to have one that sponsor your visa and other job fields go to nationals first.
In short; Limited job opportunities, low pay, could be sent back home at any time. Hit a finical crisis? limited to no options to make up for it-for a good chunk of your prime working years of your life.
Side-note; most jobs that provide visas for foreigners are English teaching, Translator or Jobs in International companies. Want a job like hair-dresser? Tattoo-artist? Stylist? Make-up artist? good luck.
By the time you have reached the same opportunity level of the average 20 year old you are likely almost 30. For men that isn't bad, but for women that can be difficult. Now its all cool if you happen to land a job in a field you always wanted to do but lets face it, a job that provides a visa, that is your dream job? Yeah... highly unlikely.
Then theres Marriage Visa. I`ll go through some scenarios as why people go for Marriage visa.
1. Couple loves each other a lot, but foreign partner`s visa is running out. To continue to date this person they must marry or just say goodbye if this foreign partner fails to obtain his/her next visa. If you were in the national`s shoes would you want your girlfriend/boyfriend to have to go back their home country?
2. Pregnant. If not for anything, for a child born out of wedlock is kinda difficult in the Japanese system and thus getting married is kind of important for Japanese/Japanese couple or Japanese/foreign marriages alike. Foreign spouses tend to go for marriage visa even if they have another visa because it guarantees them to be able to stay in the country with their new family. You wouldn't want to split families apart right?
3. Marriage visa for freedom. Instead of having to work any old job for 10years you can start right at the same level as any other person your age and have equal opportunities to work in a field you want to work in and to be able to sustain yourself and more. It`s not the cheap shot or easy-way out its the logical. Why would anyone purposely handicap their opportunities for that long if this was an option. I have a few friends who went the straight-arrow way but they told me that if they had the opportunity to marry they would have because it would have saved a lot of time and money and open up a lot of different career options they rather have done.
What a lot of people don't understand is that unlike many western countries options outside of marriage is much more difficult in Japan than it is over there.
Out of the westerners I have met who have married only a couple married people who they didn't love. Both men btw. All others married their boyfriends/and or baby-daddy. But all want to genuinely stay in Japan, love the country and feel like they suit living here more than their home countries. Some of the reasons, for example is that Japan tends to have higher family values one friend said in comparison to her country and thats why she rather raise her child here.
Which gets me into dekichatta kekkon. It`s actually not that uncommon even in Japanese/Japanese relationships to have shotgun wedding.
Heres some stats. A little old but the numbers are only rising I think.
Before anyone starts assuming things it is not always... actually quite often NOT just some crazy girlfriend trying to trap a man into marrying her even though he doesn't love her. They are often couples who just could never find the `right time` to get married. A lot of Japanese men also don`t man up until they become a father. I heard many stories about friends spouses who were really childish and wishy-washy with things until they became fathers in which turned them around because they finally have something to really be responsible about.
Another thing, surprisingly sometimes it isn`t even the woman who is trying to make a baby but the man. There have been many situations where the boyfriend doesn't like condoms and wants to cum inside of their girlfriend. The convo might go something like this.
Do you WANT a baby?
Well... if you get pregnant I can just marry you! [in the most light hearted tone]
Some guys want to get their girlfriends pregnant so they can keep them. Sometimes I wonder if they are secretly playing Russian roulette with baby making in like this weird concept that if she gets pregnant then I'm destined to be with her. Or as a outside excuse to get them to get a kick in the butt to get their life started.-- Yes this scenario is real. I know at least 2 friends whose spouses have this sort of attitude and personal experience which I talked them out of.
Now, I know that this will just fly over the heads of many people and they will continue to bash and makeup stories for which ever girl gets to stay in Japan indefinitely while they are still at home not even brave enough to take the first step or they went but came back. But none of these people are out to scam anyone, or work to send money back to their home country and thus circulating money within the Japan, most are young and those who have children add children to the population crisis.