Japanese Man Has Four Wives, Three Children and No Job

Japanese media recently reported the controversial story of a 35-year-old Japanese man who allegedly has four wives and three small children but hasn’t worked in over a decade.

35-year-old Ryuta Watanabe of Sapporo, on Japan’s Hokkaido Island, has become an overnight sensation in his home country due to an unconventional lifestyle. Watanabe reportedly lives with three of his four wives – who get along great with each other – and relies on them for most of the family’s financial needs, as he hasn’t had a job in the last 10 years. The polygamous family’s daily life was recently featured on Japan’s AbemaTV news program Abema Prime and sparked quite a heated debate in Japan, a country where polygamy is officially banned. To bypass Japan’s polygamy law, Ryuta’s four wives are currently in what is known as a ‘common-law relationship’ with him, but they plan to register their marriages and then divorce him, one at a time, so they can take the surname ‘Watanabe’ and pass it on to their children.

“I simply love women, so before I knew it, I found myself in this situation,” Watanabe told Abema TV. “Dog lovers will sympathize. If you raise one puppy, don’t you want to raise another? I like women and love them all equally.”

The 35-year-old unemployed man lives with three of his wives, and they all occupy a bedroom along with their respective children. His first wife is 27 years old, while his second and third are 24 and 22, respectively. He has a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old baby with his first wife, and a 5-month baby with his second. Ryu didn’t specify why his fourth wife lives separately, but his other partners confirmed that they do have another ‘sister wife’.

Watanabe’s four wives said that they knew from the start that they wouldn’t be his only romantic partner and that he was unemployed, but they had no problem with either fact. They work together to cover the roughly 850,000 yen ($5,860) monthly family expenses, while Ryuta takes care of the household chores. It’s an unusual arrangement, especially for Japan’s generally patriarchial society, but it works for them.

“I think there is no problem with it [polygamy],” Ryuta Watanabe said, giving the example of Tokugawa Ienari, the eleventh and longest-serving shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate, who had 53 children. He jokingly told reporters that he wants to make history by having 54 children.


Ryuta described his four wives as “less than family, but more than friends,” a description none of the women seemed to have a problem with. On the contrary, during the Abema Prime program, they kept praising his charm and strength and unanimously expressed their support for him.

Asked how the polygamous family planned to explain their living arrangement to their children, Ryuta claimed that they would figure it out on their own, while one of his wives said that they would try to explain to them that not all families are the same so that they grow up without prejudice.

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