Older Japanese Go Online to Find Love

"I haven't told my children because I think it's best to meet someone naturally," said Match.com member Naomi, a 52-year-old divorcee who signed up in February. "That may be an old-fashioned way of thinking, but the image of dating sites isn't very good."

Such concerns are one reason why women make up only 40 percent of Match.com members in Japan compared with 50 percent in the United States, Kuwano said. Another is pride.

"They are afraid that using the Internet to find someone makes them look like losers," he said.

Online or off, the search for love can still be fraught with obstacles, including the potential for mismatched priorities.

A Match.com survey showed that Japanese men and women both put "shared values" as their top priority in a partner but men list "similar personality" second, while women cite income.

Kawamura says he experienced just that problem when he first joined Match.com, one reason he dropped out for a while.

"I'd send and receive email and they'd ask about my job. But my occupation is at the bottom of the scale in Japan," he said.

Lately, though, things are looking up and Kawamura has moved near one of his women friends so they can get to know each other better. But he's not in a rush.

"The most basic thing is to be honest. And to be patient."

(Editing by Megan Goldin)

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