A few days earlier, I read this pretty alarming article “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?“. It gave rise to many other articles and reactions on the sexual life of young Japanese people. Results of various research are:
* 45% of 16-24 year old Japanese women and 25%+ of Japanese men are not interested in or despise sexual contact. (JFPA) In 2010, 36% of Japanese males aged 16 to 19 had no interest in sex. This figure has doubled in two years. (Survey by MHLW)
* A survey of 2011 found out that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 are not in any kind of romantic relationship (a rise of almost 10% from 5 years earlier). (ipss)
* A third of people under 30 never dated. (Japancrush)
* Only 27% of Japanese men and women in a relationship has sex every week. (BBC)
Marriage and birth rates are decreasing as well:
* In 2012, fewer babies were born than any year on record. More adult incontinence pants outsold baby napkins for the first time. (Japan Times)
* Japan’s population is expected to plunge 30% by 2060.(Japan Times)
* 3 million unmarried people over the age of 35 live with their parents. (Japan Daily Press)
* Women in their early 20s have a one-in-four chance of never marrying. Their chances of remaining childless are almost 40%.
Some women do not prefer marrying because their career chances will shrink dramatically. Apparently, 70% of Japanese women leave their jobs after their first child (BBC). Therefore, Japan is seen as one of the world’s worst nations for gender equality at work. As much as 90% of young women believes staying single is more preferable than marriage (IPSS).
In the article, the word mendoukusai (面倒臭い, bothersome), is often used to describe relationships. Entanglements are too complicated, it is too expensive for men (mostly men pay for dates) and dating in prospective of marriage is out of the question.
Next to that, more and more Japanese men prefer platonic relationships with virtual girlfriends (BBC). Nintendo games like “Love Plus” provide a anime-like schoolgirl character that you can take on a date, have a conversation with and pick up at school. In the game, they pretend to be 15-year old school boys.
“It’s the kind of relationship we wish we’d had at high school.”
According to Roland Kelts, many Japanese men are pessimistic about the future. They are less career-driven, in contrast with Japanese women, who seek more fulfillment in their jobs than in romantic relationships. The long-standing values has changed drastically over the last years.
Criticism on the articles above points out that the same problems can also be applied to other countries. 75% of Americans, for example, who are not in a romantic relationship, are not looking for one. (Pew Research Center) This percentage is much higher than in Japan.
But in any case, if decreased sexual desire were really the reason for Japan’s falling population, we’d be seeing versions of this trend story (perhaps to a slightly lesser extent) in every other developed country on the planet. (Slate)
I bet shunga (春画) artists like Utamaro and Hokusai would be extremely disappointed in today’s Japanese youth…
Yuta Aoki wrote an interesting blogpost about this topic, be sure to check it out! It is worth seeing the picture from both point of views.