Tuesday

Ryo Ishikawa's Engagement Defies Demographic Trends

When he arrived at Tokyo's Narita airport on Sunday, Ryo Ishikawa wasn't dwelling on his disappointment over a missed Master's cut, choosing instead to tell the gathered media of his recent engagement.

"I got engaged last month, to a junior high school classmate," revealed the 20 year old Japanese superstar, without mentioning her name.  Rumors of a Ryo romance first surfaced several months ago and speculation has been rife ever since, but the identity of the fortunate future WAG is still a mystery.

The Japanese press have described her only as "a tall, slender beauty with long black hair".  No photos were released, though it seems she was in fact, in Augusta for the Masters last week, and at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational prior to that, and was introduced a number of her fiance's close friends.

"I'm now 20 years old, so I decided the time was right" Ishikawa told reporters without elaborating.  In Japan, age 20 does hold a special significance as the year one officially comes of age, however the average marrying age in Japan is significantly old than that... 30.5 for Japanese men and 28.8 for Japanese women... and those demographic statistics are a source of concern for many of the country's economists, who worry about the subsequent declining birth rates and aging population.

For Japan it's a continuing conundrum that began quite a while ago.  One look at a chart representing Japan's birth rate over the past several decades makes that clear.  It resembles an ultra-treacherous black diamond ski slope, particularly as it's coupled with substantial increases in Japanese longevity.

The crisis is often attributed, at least in part, to the fact that young people are choosing to get married later... or not at all.   And the government has tried everything from cash incentives to policies that provide more support for working parents. They've even gone so far as to develop a government dating site to help those unable to find Mr./Mrs. Right... and in what is perhaps the cutest/coolest initiative: robot babies.

Getting back to Ryo Ishikawa, he'll be competing at the Token Tado Country Club in Nagoya, Japan this week for the Japan Golf Tour's Token Homemate Cup.  As for his recent announcement though many in the media are writing jokingly about legions of disappointed female admirers, I'm guessing that those saddled with the task of coaxing Japan's birth rate higher were delighted weren't unhappy to hear that one of the country's top role models has decided to marry so young.

Fans can congratulate Ryo on his engagment at his Panasonic site.