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The Japanese American Family - Part 6 of 8

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Studying Contemporary Japanese American Families (Cont'd)

The next six categories refer to marital families in which the couple consists of a particular match between the two spouses based on the four JA types. The FB-FB-Japanese family includes a married couple where both spouses are foreign-born. The NB-NB-Japanese family includes a married couple where both spouses are native-born. The BR-J-White family includes a married couple consisting of spouses who are: BR-Japanese and BR-Japanese; or BR-Japanese and J-White; or J-White and J-White. The FB-NB-Japanese family includes a married couple where one spouse is foreign-born and the other spouse is native-born. The FB-BR-J-White family includes a married couple consisting of spouses who are: FB-Japanese and BR-Japanese; or FB-Japanese and J-White. The NB-BR-J-White family includes a married couple consisting of spouses who are: NB-Japanese and BR-Japanese; or NB-Japanese and J-White.

As shown in Table 2, the next four categories refer to marital families consisting of couples where a particular JA type is intermarried with a foreign-born White (i.e., IWhite-FB-Japanese family, IWhite-NB-Japanese family, IWhite-BR-Japanese family, and IWhite-J-White family). Four categories are then included to refer to marital families consisting of couples where a particular JA type is intermarried with a (non-Japanese) Asian (i.e., Asian-FB-Japanese family, Asian-NB-Japanese family, Asian-BR-Japanese family, and Asian-J-White family). Next, intermarriage with African Americans is categorized (i.e., Black-FB-Japanese family, Black-NB-Japanese family, Black-BR-Japanese family, and Black-J-White family). Finally, intermarriage with Hispanics is categorized as well (i.e., Hispanic-FB-Japanese family, Hispanic-NB-Japanese family, Hispanic-BR-Japanese family, and Hispanic-J-White family). Other-Japanese family is the last category that simply refers to a residual grouping consisting of any marital family not explicitly mentioned above (and either the householder or the spouse identifies as FB-Japanese, NB-Japanese, BR-Japanese or J-White).

CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE AMERICAN FAMILY PATTERNS

The frequencies for these various household types are shown in Table 3. The frequencies are broken down into two separate groups: White households and JA households. White households include non-family and non-marital family households in which the householder is White as well as marital family households in which the householder is White and the spouse is not Japanese. JA households include non-family and non-marital family households in which the householder is Japanese (i.e., FB-Japanese, NB-Japanese, BR-Japanese or J-White) as well as marital family households in which either the householder or the spouse (or both) is Japanese (i.e., FB-Japanese, NB-Japanese, BR-Japanese or J-White).

In regard to one-adult households, Table 3 shows that they represent 27.93% of White households and 23.88% of J-A households. When using the household as the unit of analysis (i.e., rather than counting up the total number of individuals), one-adult households are the second largest category. As also shown in Table 3, non-family households represent 6.21% of White households and 5.43% of J-A households. Non-marital family households represent 11.37% of White households and 8.47% of J-A households. The largest category is the martial family household comprising 54.49% among White households and 62.22% among J-A households.

These foregoing statistics are consistent with our earlier discussion above regarding the greater tendency among mainstream Americans (relative to Japanese Americans) to value individualism, which results in less conformity to traditional ideals and established patterns. Compared to Whites, JA households are more likely to be represented by the more traditionally normative family that includes a married couple. By contrast, White households are more likely to be represented by one-adult households, non-family households, and non-marital family households.

In regard to marital families among JA households, the level of intermarriage with Whites is notable. The most common category among all JA martial families is the White-FB-Japanese family with 10.27%. Another 7.9% are White-NB-Japanese families, which are followed by White-BR-Japanese families (i.e., 6.19%) and then White-J-White families (i.e., 3.67%). Whereas intermarriage between Whites and Japanese Americans was relatively rare and outlawed in many states before World War II, households represented by this pattern of intermarriage today constitute 28.03% (i.e., 10.27% + 7.9% + 6.19% + 3.67%) of all JA households. In other words, intermarriage between Whites and Japanese Americans are now the most common household grouping as is evident in Table 3.

Many Japanese Americans do of course marry other Japanese Americans but the patterns vary depending upon the type of Japanese American. As shown in Table 3, the most common category of endogamous marriage is the NB-NB-Japanese family (i.e., 8.63%), which is the group that most closely resembles what Kitano and Kitano (1998:319) referred to as “the Nisei family.” That category is closely followed by the FB-FB-Japanese family (i.e., 7.23%) which is the modern day representation of the “the Issei family” discussed earlier. Other patterns of intra-ethnic marriage (i.e., BR-J-White families, FB-NB-Japanese families, FB-BR-J-White families, and NB-BR-J-White families) are much fewer as is shown in Table 3. The total amount of endogamous marriage is 19.58% (i.e., 7.23% + 8.63% + .77% + 1.94% + .25% + .76%) of all JA households.

The grouping of intermarriage that is somewhat prominent is the martial family consisting of a Japanese American with another (non-Japanese) Asian. Table 3 shows that 4.29% of JA households are Asian-NB Japanese families while 1.77% are Asian-FB Japanese families and 1.54% are Asian-BR Japanese families. Though much less common than intermarriage with Whites, intermarriage between Japanese Americans with other Asians does appear to be a recognizable pattern in these data.

Next - Part 7: Characteristics of Contemporary White and Japanese American Households


* The following article is a shortened version of a chapter to appear in
Ethnic Families in America: Patterns and Variations, 5th Edition, edited by Roosevelt Wright, Charles H. Mindel, Robert W. Habenstin, and Than Van Tran.

© 2010 Arthur Sakamoto, ChangHwan Kim, and Isao Takei

academic education family history japanese american