Adopt a Young Man

Adoption is a serious matter for society, for the adopting parents and most importantly, for the adopted child. Especially if that adopted child is a young male in his 20s or 30s.

Wait… But who would adopt an adult?

The answer is wealthy Japanese. Adopted children make up only 2% of all adoptions in Japan. Young men make up most of the remaining 98%. That’s right, basically all of the adoptees in Japan are young men.


Turns out the reason for this is, as with many things in Japan, business-related. In the first half of the 20th century, Japanese law mandated that sons, not daughters, can inherit. This spawned a demand in daughter-only families for adopted sons, who can continue the family’s name and business. On the supply side, families with many sons sent out some of them to be adopted and thus inherit wealth. The adopted mukoyoshi (son in law) would typically marry the daughter and change his name to hers.

The law has been changed since, but Japan being the traditional society it is, old habits are hard to kill. Furthermore, with declining birth rates – under 1.4 per woman – the chances of a son remain low. And so the practice continues. Toyota, Suzuki, Canon and other leading Japanese companies all have adopted mukoyoshi running the business.

So if you are a 20-something male and do no expect to be inheriting much from your parents, relocation to Japan might be something to consider.

H/T – The Economist.


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