There is a culture of long working hours combined with stagnant gender stereotypes in Japanese society in which small living spaces are factors likely to amplify the challenges of self-isolation.
With the expanded state of emergency that includes the entire nation, an increasing number of people are working from home, a still-uncommon concept for many Japanese companies.
The concept is equally unusual for some Japanese couples who are taking steps to avoid a “coronavirus divorce” while working remotely from their small apartments.
Some husbands and wives, who feel “stressed” and “awkward” at their partner’s round-the-clock presence, contacted a Tokyo-based short-term rental firm that launched a new service aiming to help couples.
The concept is simple: the company, called Kasoku, rents 500-plus accommodation units across the country as “temporary shelters” for those wishing to escape home – and provides a free 30-minute divorce consultation with a legal expert in case of emergency.
The Daily Telegraph quoted a housewife, surnamed Yui, who argued that her husband’s presence interferes with her daily routines. “Marriage doesn’t have to always keep you together,” she said, adding that they will talk again about their future when the pandemic settles.
Explaining the motivation behind the service, Keisuke Arai, CEO of Kasoku, told the Telegraph: “Most Japanese homes are comparatively smaller than those in other countries. Couples see each other the whole day and this could trigger a small relationship problem.”
He added: “The longer it takes to settle, the more serious this problem will be. We think a lot more people are having similar problems and ‘corona divorce’ could become 10 times bigger.”