“We don’t have solid data showing divorce is on the rise, but media reports that divorce rates are rising in China and in Russia after lockdowns there led us to come up with this service,” he added.
While the firm is marketing the apartments in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, the service has also attracted users facing serious problems, including a woman fleeing domestic violence.
The company has about 500 units around the country, mainly in central Tokyo, and a fall in tourism means many are empty, though demand for remote offices for telework is helping offset the impact.
The firm’s campaign comes as the hashtag “corona-divorce” has trended on Japanese Twitter. Public broadcaster NHK is devoting part of its breakfast show to tips on avoiding potentially marriage-ending frustrations while stuck inside often cramped Japanese apartments.
Despite its highly-educated female population, Japan ranked 121 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 gender gap index, primarily because of its poor showing in political representation.
Traditional gender roles are deeply rooted in Japanese society and women are often still expected to take primary responsibility for childcare and domestic chores, even while holding down professional employment.