Japan: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling



People in Japan have stopped having sex. OK, fine – that’s a bit of an exaggeration – but Japan’s 40-somethings and unders have lost interest in conventional relationships. This celibacy syndrome is fast becoming a looming national crisis and the statistics associated with this phenomenon are astounding.

Japan has a population of roughly 126 million people, but it has been on the slide for the past decade: by 2060 its population has been projected to shrink an additional 30 percent. The number of single people has reached a record high. In 2011, a survey found that 61 percent of unmarried men and 49 percent of women aged 18 to 34 aren’t doing the dirty.

There are also studies that found that a third of those under 30 have never been in any sexual relationship at all. Forty-five percent of women say they have no interest in sex and over a quarter of their male counterparts feel the same way. According to the Japanese Population Institute, women in their 20s have a 1 in 4 chance of never marrying and a 40 percent chance of remaining child-free.

But what factors lead to not wanting to procreate and raise children?

Women in Japan have recently been looking at what their futures would be like within the confines of marriage. Essentially, they tend to believe that emotional relationships are too complicated or troublesome. A shocking 90 percent of young women believe that single life is better than what they think married life would be like for them. For women with career-centric aspirations, it’s just simpler to stay single.

About 70 percent of women in Japan leave the workforce after their first child, and the World Economic Forum has ranked Japan as one of the world’s worst nations for gender equality within the workplace.

With that in mind, a Japanese woman can expect that her chances of promotion within a company go cold turkey as soon as she marries. This is because bosses assume that she will want to start a family and stop working as much to care for her children. The mentality of marriage being a hard stop, career-wise, has led to fewer babies being born in 2012 than any other year on record in Japan.

In contrast, men have become less career-driven and less flush in the cash department. Lifetime job security has faded due to circumstances within Japan that have led to 20 years of economic stagnation.

Technology has also played a large role in the current lack of lovin’ in Japan. Many Japanese have found that the instant sexual gratification provided by such outlets as online porn, virtual-reality “girlfriends,” and anime cartoons are preferable to the day-to-day rigors of maintaining real-life, long-term relationships. Also (and I swear I’m not making this up), men and women are more interested in playing video games than having casual sex. For example, the Guardian News [FIND HYPERLINK] cited a case where one young male virgin in his early 30s can’t seem to get, ahem, excited unless he watches female robots on a game akin to Power Rangers.

All this begs the question – what is the Japanese government doing about this alarming sociological trend? The answer: Not much, besides generating fear about the low birth rate. This cultural shift does not bode well for Japan. When both the declining birth rate and economic stagnation is considered, Japan is in some real trouble.

But who knows? Maybe one day the Japanese, with all that pent-up sexual energy, will go on a virile sex binge that would make Caligula blush. Only time will tell, but if that does happen: Goodbye, America. I’m setting up shop in Tokyo.


About Eric Bates

Eric received his B.S. in political science with an emphasis in international relations from Santa Clara University in 2012. Upon graduating, he traveled and worked for a non-profit in Central America. He is a religious viewer of Conan O’Brien and also loves traveling. Eric is attending San Jose State University's graduate school program to receive a M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications. He can be reached at ebates0@gmail.com.
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