Disaster leads people to consider life’s more profound aspects; just as marriage spiked in the year after the 2011 tsunami and earthquake, something similar appears to be happening now amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Many singles in Japan are turning their thoughts to marriage and romance, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, but social distancing tends to hamper traditional boy-meets-girl encounters. The government has advised cutting face-to-face meetings by 80%.

As with so much else during the pandemic, the solution is to go online. Marriage agencies are reporting inquiries increased by as much as 20% year on year during April.

One, Sunmarie, has started to offer free, 40-minute online consultations to clients, with women aged 20-40 the biggest group taking advantage. But all ages, from 20 to 70 year-olds, are showing an interest. Another, LMO, has started to host online matchmaking parties for people aged between 30 and 45; it was expecting the number of participants to reach 400 in April.

“Many potential customers say the coronavirus has given them an opportunity to think about their future, or to think twice about ties with their families,” a Sunmarie representative told the Review.

The data also indicate that online dating has a better strike rate than offline meetings: the Review reports that online dating is 20% to 30% more successful in bringing people together permanently.

“People in their 30s and 40s do not seem uncomfortable meeting online,” the Sunmarie spokesperson said. “More people have additional free time as they work remotely, and I hope they use this situation as an opportunity to think about their futures,” the spokesperson added.

But not everyone’s thoughts are turning to love. There are growing fears that being cooped up with partners and families will increase the divorce rate further down the line.

In response, Kasoku, a company offering short-term rooms for rent, is offering 20% to 30% discounts for people who fancy a break from their family. The company says one typical comment was, “I don't want to see my husband because he stays at home too long”. Most inquires come from people in their 30s and 40s who want to rent a room for between two weeks and a month – 60% are women.

Sourced from Nikkei Asian Review