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Imported brides rise as money mixes Asian marriages

Lawrence Bartlett AFP 07/01/2010 01:31
Imported brides rise as money mixes Asian marriages - Asia - marriage

Asian men from rich countries such as Japan and South Korea are increasingly seeking brides from poorer ones like Vietnam and the Philippines -- as economically liberated local women get picky.

Marriages between Japanese men and foreign women shot up 73 percent between 1995 and 2006, to 35,993, according to the latest government survey. Most of the women were Filipinas, followed by Chinese.

"Asian brides -- notably Chinese and Filipina -- remain popular in the countryside, where it's quite hard to find young women," said Toshio Esaka, president of dating agency Royal in Osaka, western Japan.

"But nowadays, it's getting harder even downtown as a lot of young Japanese women are economically independent and prefer to remain single," Esaka said.

In South Korea, more than 35 percent of fishermen and farmers who married in the 12 months to May 2009 took foreign brides, mainly from China and Vietnam, government statistics show.

Both examples point to the role of cash and lifestyle in Cupid's quiver -- it is mainly the less marketable men in the richer countries who look abroad for a wife when they can't find one at home.

The story is repeated in Singapore -- Southeast Asia's wealthiest society -- Hong Kong and Taiwan, and often involves marriage brokers.

An online matchmaking site in Singapore, which offers low-cost tours to Vietnam where lower-income men -- who often fear rejection by better-educated local women -- can meet "medically examined and certified virgins".

On the other side of the transaction, the women are usually so impoverished that even poorer men from rich countries offer hope of a better life.

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