Japan is well known for many things, and its obsession with sex is one of them. It has one of the most robust pornographic and adult-toy industries in the world and airs TV commercials for items as banal as candy that feature sexually suggestive themes. It even has an annual fertility festival that parades two five-foot-tall penis sculptures down a busy street on a Sunday afternoon.
And yet nearly half of singles in Japan have no interest in dating – a situation that many experts predict will help lead to a population decline of one-third in the next 45 years.
Japan’s population decline is no longer considered a passing trend, but rather a looming catastrophe that threatens the future of the nation.
According to a survey of never-married people by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 27.6 percent of single men and 22.6 percent of single women have no interest in engaging in a relationship with the opposite sex. Researchers cite those statistics to argue that a significant portion of Japanese simply has no interest in sex. They might even have an aversion to it.
Says Auumu Ochiai, a researcher based in Tokyo: “41.6 percent of males in their 20s have never dated anyone.”
The number of men with no sexual experience drops with age, but it’s still large at 34: 26.1 percent. For women age 34, it’s somewhat less, but not by much – 23.8 percent.
That’s not to say that all of them wish to remain single. Ochiai says his research indicates that nearly 90 percent of single people would like eventually to marry. The Japanese government gives similar estimates.
Still, it’s easy enough to find Japanese who have little interest in developing a relationship. Yuki Kobari, who’s in his 30s, says he used to date several years ago, but that becoming involved with someone now would be a burden. Now his spare time is pretty much his own.
“I can devote myself to my hobbies and do what I want,” he explained.
He acknowledges that might not always be his preference, though he feels he has time yet before he must worry about making a commitment. His estimate: four or five years. Then, he says, “it’s going to be the time when you have to make a decision.”
10.1 percentage of males who told government surveyors sex was too much work.
Helping to drive the lack of interest in marriage is a change in Japan’s conservative social mores. Thirty-one percent of single Japanese admit that relief from family pressure is one motivation for picking a partner.
But that pressure is decidedly less now than it used to be. Plus, it’s easier to be single now.