This chapter examines judicial views concerning divorce in Japan. In immediate postwar Japan, less than one out of ten marriages ended in divorce. But in the 2000s, four out of ten Japanese marriages end in divorce, a figure neither unusually high nor unusually low among developed countries. Many judges, however, seem to long for the days when couples stayed together—despite a clear absence of the emotional connection that judges use to define marriage in other contexts. The chapter shows that courts have significant power to shape marriage and divorce. The system they have created is characterized largely by rules that require less-than-happy marriages to continue over the objections of a spouse who wants to leave. Two specific aspects of judicial divorce regularly trump spousal desires: statutory “grave reason” grounds for divorce and court-created rules against at-fault divorce. In both cases, love occasionally arises, but it is largely irrelevant.
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