Why aren't Japanese dating and mating?

At dinner with five British friends, a spark suddenly sizzles through the conversation. Ears prick as the discussion begins. The topic? Sex in Japan.

We wade our way through fact and theory, offering in turn Chinese whispers about the contents of vending machines, the vessels from which businessmen can eat their sushi, and the fake nipples you can insert under your T-shirt to give the appearance of a constant erection. It is an exciting world, this one, so different to our own, where a brief glimpse of underwear seems to entertain the masses for hours.

Two years later, I find myself living here.

And it is in many ways everything I had giggled, exaggerated and hinted at with friends when the words were too shocking to utter.

There are entire shops dedicated to the selling of condoms, regular DVD shops which only retail the one variety of DVD, and seemingly innocent home depots which display plastic phalluses so big I could dress one up in 4-year-old’s clothing and push it around in a pram for a few weeks before anyone would be any the wiser. Only the other day I pulled up alongside a car while waiting at the traffic lights and glanced over, only to discover a guy watching full frontal penetration on his dashboard DVD screen. It was 11am.

Yet this is where I begin to get confused. In such an apparent and blatantly sexual society, why is nobody breeding?

The story of Japan’s declining birthrate is not a new one. Measures are underway to ensure that the country does not evolve into a giant nursing home. But in spite of the fact that the government is offering monetary incentives to young married couples, and that businesses are enforcing compulsory holidays, the percentage of children being born into the new generation is not increasing rapidly enough. With just an average of 1.39 children born per Japanese female, it’s time to take a look at the root causes of why such a randy bunch of Asians can’t get down and do it.

Tokyo exemplifies the coexistence of innovation and tradition. Outside the boundaries of the capital, however, it’s the time honored values which hold a much stronger visible presence. The family home is the most perceptible manifestation of these continuing traditions, with practices arguably proceeding beyond their relevancy date. Here, family members of every generation coexist under one roof, often in the same room. The youngest generation are expected to secure partners in order to maintain this strong family unit and support the elders through their retirement years. Now, more than ever, with the proportion of people above the retirement age reaching astonishing heights, there is an ever pressing need for this.

The pressure to get married is a predominant conversation topic for females as young as 14. The idea of women as “Christmas cakes”—an item which begins to decline after its use-by date of the 25th—still pervades, and the desperation to get married before this “spoiling age” is visibly apparent in Japanese social circles. In the past, young people were subjected to “omiai” (arranged marriage interviews, which to this day are not uncommon). Nowadays, especially in the bigger cities, parties where women pay to attend in order to find a suitably rich and respectable husband, have taken its place.

This pressure and stigma about remaining single pushes people into marriages they are not necessarily happy with. I spoke to one Japanese woman who commented: “I didn’t really like him at first,” with reference to the first few years of her marriage. Instead of looking for a person with whom they’d be entirely satisfied to spend the rest of their lives, people are just glad to be taken off the proverbial shelf. I asked some 24-year-old Japanese males what they consider to be most important when dating the opposite sex. The response came back: “She has to be nice.” Nice? Nice is the word they refuse to let you use after Key Stage 1 primary school education because it’s absolute bollocks. Everyone is “nice”—but using it as the basis for marriage?

Nice is not a spark, and there lays a crucial fault in the Japanese mating system. People are so keen to get coupled up that a spark does not seem to need to exist here. A body just needs to exist, and exhibit some kind of sign that it is “nice,” and then that body is deemed acceptable for marriage. When intelligence, a sense of humor, and similar interests fail to hold any importance, it is no wonder that people are not having sex. Nice isn’t sexy.

But then, what does it really matter, when after the initial 3 or 4 shopping trips made on the designated “couples” day, a few occasions of holding hands, and the subsequent marriage, the relationship will quickly dissolve into the occasional Sunday spent together when the man returns from work. Such is the fate of many matrimonial unions. The working lives of salarymen and OLs at Japanese companies is a phenomenon which has to be seen to be believed. It is not unusual for Japanese workers to leave the office at around 11 p.m. on a weeknight. Holidays, for most, are not even on the agenda. A large proportion of the adults I have come into contact with in Japan have yet to acquire passports. There is simply no need.

With so much time spent at work, there is very little left for play. Here is where the numerous variations of bars offering pleasure for money come into effect. The niche for a quick fix in this work-heavy country is a thriving market. In the same way that the convenience store allows one to pick up a quick bite for dinner with limited expenditure of time, money or effort, the sex industry provides a means for men to enjoy the company of women without having to fork out on the wining and dining required by a future potential spouse. It’s a case of satisfaction in half the time, for half the price.

Just as we see the way sex is cordoned off in the architecture of the cities—Shinjuku’s red-light district Kabukicho a prime example of this—the subject is discernibly curtailed in conversation. Around a table of Japanese citizens of mixed gender, sex does not exist. It is rarely mentioned, and certainly never with reference to oneself. This sense of secrecy extends even to the love hotels, where you cover your license plate, pay through a machine, and leave through a back door onto a quiet street. When sex is required to be kept a secret, it is regarded with connotations of negativity. And when something is viewed negatively, it tends to be considered taboo.

This notion of privacy is part of the persona of humility revered in Japanese society. While this modest and timid character trait flourishes in the business arena, however, it is the ultimate hindrance on the dating scene. For the Japanese, the approach of a stranger is an act of almost biblical transgression. Where big, open rooms in Western bars and pubs are designed with communication in mind, Japanese izakayas are sectioned off into private rooms. Even the “ping pong” buttons with which to hail the bar staff make interaction outside of your own known circle almost unthinkable.

You might think that such a reserved group of people would flock to the online services available, but wherever else in the world this style of dating is flourishing, in Japan it is still restricted to a few sites. Even the Japan Today friends page is an option. It seems that in this hush-hush society of shy males and females, if you don’t meet the love of your life at school or university, there’s a strong chance it might never happen.

So what is the solution? Put all the 30-somethings in a ring and tell them they can only come out if they’ve fornicated without the use of contraception? Or accept that being single isn’t “wrong,” and that neither is sex. We’ve just witnessed a national pop star shave her head for spending a night at a male friend’s home. Rather than focusing on these old, samurai-age techniques, Japan needs to modernize. Not only its dating style, but also its perception of men and women as these separate, shy entities, so that perversions can at least be shared, rather than expressed through a fanaticism for big-breasted cartoons in magazines. Mentally and physically, the Japanese need to let the rest of the world in.

 

 

 

Author Infomation

Hollie Mantle
Hollie Mantle
Hollie Mantle teaches English in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture.
  • 14

    kurisupisu

    Ha ha....there is plenty of sex in Japan,just not much up In the mountains of Gunma.....

  • 19

    gaijinfo

    ALL post industrial countries experience demographic shift. Declining birthrates. Nothing unique to Japan. People realize they can have sex without being married, and without having kids.

    Sex is fun, kids are a lifetime of work. Not to mention the most expensive thing you'll ever do.

    Is that so complicated?

  • 9

    Kabukilover

    The mountains of Gumma are no doubt uptight like other typical traditional rural communities in Japan. There is lots of sex in urban Japan. Urban Japan also creates less breeders. It is also a place where the Christmas cake metaphor has disappeared to great extent.

    What we are seeing here is what is happening in other urban societies. People are not having children. There is an organization called No Kidding that started in the US as a support group for people who have opted not to have children. This organization is now falling into irrelevancy because so many urban couples have decided they don't want kids.

    In urban societies around the world we are seeing a reverse of the Malthusian formula: geometric food production and arithmetic birth rates.

    It is ironic that it is in the rural areas, where sex talk is frowned on and both the man and woman are virgins at the wedding, that have the highest birth rates. Children are useful as hands on the farm. They are expensive pets in the city.

    There is lots of sex in the city. Check out all the love hotels that do a thriving business.

    Just there is a look of pressure in traditional Japan to have children, there is counter pressure in Urban Japan not to have children. It is expensive. Schools obligations suck. Schools suck. People with noisy children and parents with strollers (often used as weapons) are disliked. There is not enough space and not enough time. Once you have kids the system has you by the throat. Unemployment is bad enough but with kids is a hundred times worse. Today, as the child population decreases so does urban sympathy and tolerance for children.

  • -1

    Goodwill_Hunting

    Quote: "For the Japanese, the approach of a stranger is an act of almost biblical transgression."

    Totally hit the nail on the head. Couldn't agree more (sadly) :-(

  • 0

    oikawa

    I don't think it's ridiculous at all. It's blatantly, simply, true. The traditional form of arranged marriage in Japan, which is what it was for most people until just before the bubble generation, is dying out with young people looking for a bit more than a lifetime of boredom with someone they don't like or know, yet without being replaced by other ways of meeting a man or woman, or a lessening of the strict social rules regarding behavior around others, let alone the opposite sex.

  • 2

    Mocheake

    No social skills. Guys seem terrified or unable to engage women in even light conversation. When I'm out and about, guys I see are more interested in looking at manga, taking photos of trains or staring at me than in looking at the many nice looking women who are walking around. Even when I'm in a bar or other social setting, I see lots of Japanese men who try to engage me in conversation rather than the women who are in the place. When I ask them about it, they just laugh or give some weak excuse. Most of the guys here have no clue as to how to talk to a woman and keep her interested.

  • 1

    Morry

    "I pulled up alongside a car while waiting at the traffic lights and glanced over, only to discover a guy watching full frontal penetration on his dashboard DVD screen." -- Oh sure, you just "happened" to see that.....

    Everyone is “nice” -- really? In what place is "everyone" nice???

  • 14

    Laguna

    Very funny article - thank you.

    Most animals when placed in crowded, stressful conditions cease breeding. Humans are no different.

  • 3

    herefornow

    Why aren't Japanese dating and mating?

    Simple, herbivore males. Japan is the world epicenter for them.

  • 2

    songwillem2011

    Declining birthrates is not bad thing. I'd rather there be more parents out there seriously dedicated to one or two children than neglectful of 4 to 10. That said I think even that is something a lot of people worldwide need to work on as well.

  • 12

    Frungy

    I'm astounded that the author can hit so many of the key points.... and then draw completely the wrong conclusion.

    She talks about the insane working hours, about the poor relationship between married couples, couples living together with their parents... and never pauses to contemplate the relationship between these three factors (or many). Salaryman gets home exhausted from working a 70 hour week, sees a spouse he never has time to talk to, and then is expected to go upstairs to have sex with his parents downstairs listening?

    The author has apparently looked but not seen, a common failing. Engage your brain rather than your fingers.

  • -5

    tmarie

    Great article but yes, wrong conclusion. The work culture here is the issue. The long hours for the men and the crappy opportunities and crap pay for the women. Balance out work and life, give people job security, build more daycares and people with have kids. More sex, more kids.

    Japanese "settle" for partners - which seems to be by many are having sex in the live hotels but it certainly isn't with their spouse.

  • -6

    tmarie

    I have always lived in cities here but do believe the thinking of marrying young is alive and well in inaka. She's talking about her experiences and observations. Might not be the same as yours but that doesn't mean she's wrong.

  • 7

    borscht

    My first decade in this island nation was spent in several inaka towns. Sex was rampant. But not openly discussed around the izakaya table. The 'Christmas cake' thing was brought up only as a joke. Adultery was not uncommon, but an open secret. When a couple married it was because they wanted to, not because they 'settled.' Women went on omiai lunches to satisfy their grandmothers, but never to decide on a spouse.

    Why do I, a foreigner, know these things? Because in bars and izakayas in inaka people enjoyed talking and talking with strangers was never a 'biblical transgression.'

    I guess my experience those many years ago - when money was flowing like water and people spent as much as they could - was different from the author's.

    Plus, no offense, but those salarymen working until 11:00 PM, how many are tanshin funin, how many aren't married or divorced with reason to go home to a cold apartment? How many stay late one or two days a week in a rotation with other workers? In fact, in the last decade or so many of my Japanese salarymen friends have been told/ordered to leave the office by 6:00 because the company wants to cut costs (electricity, overtime).

  • -3

    sengoku38

    The abortion rate explains the gap between replacement rate and birthrate.

  • 3

    iceshoecream

    In such an apparent and blatantly sexual society, why is nobody breeding?

    And where do all these kids at school come from?

  • 2

    cleo

    It seems that in this hush-hush society of shy males and females, if you don’t meet the love of your life at school or university, there’s a strong chance it might never happen.

    I experienced this very phenomenon first-hand not long ago. A meeting of old friends, of whom 7 were couples who had first met at uni; 2 were couples who had met later, in one case very much later; and 4 were life-long singles. Between us we had produced a total of a dozen offspring, not enough to keep numbers up. 'Cept this wasn't Japan, it was the UK.

    So what is the solution? Put all the 30-somethings in a ring and tell them they can only come out if they’ve fornicated without the use of contraception? Or accept that being single isn’t “wrong,” and that neither is sex.

    Forcing people to become single parents is a solution to what, exactly? If you believe in personal freedom, or even pay lip-service to it, neither singledom nor sex is wrong. Nor is it anyone else's business.

  • -1

    Kyle Alpert

    Another key point missed is that Japanese society doesn't glorify any sort of 'feminine mystique'. Rather than having fables about men going to extreme lengths to obtain women, we have men desperately trying to escape then. Western tradition says 'hell hath no more fury than a woman scorned'. And similar to many other Western traditions, the Japanese seem to understand things better most: it is impossible to prevent a woman from feeling scorned at all times, so why invite that sort of monstrous evil into your life? With adequate money & room, the monster can be distracted or avoided until it comes to term with itself/reality, but these are luxuries that modern Japanese men simply don't have. Remember, Japan's Adam (Izanagi) rather than dying with Eve (Izanami), chose to leave her rotting in a ditch; instead of putting up with (the consequences of) her wrath, he chose to cultivate himself.

  • -2

    David Quintero Navarro

    I will never forget this cool pick up line I over heard in Hachioji, Tokyo, "Ne, ne yarasete" these 2 young J dudes would go from table to table where there 2 gals drinking by themselves, so "ne, ne yarasete" in English is something like "hey, hey, let me do you." I was quite impressed! You just go up to drunk, laughing red faced J girls, hey, hey let me do you, so a few tables would yell, YADA, YADA YO!", Kind of like hell no! But one table they just laughed and said something like hey, shut up and buy us some drinks, so the rest of the story is up to your imagination! I bet our dear gaijin friend up in middle of nowhere Gunma never saw that kind of pick up line by the native J dudes here in Tokyo, Osaka etc...

  • -5

    David Quintero Navarro

    Most animals when placed in crowded, stressful conditions cease breeding. Humans are no different. Dearest Laguna, you forget that some humans get turned on by these crowded, stressful conditions, like on a CROWDED train on the Yamanote line etc..they are called CHIKAN, perverts that get excited rubbing themselves on women, and much worse.

  • 0

    Athletes

    I have seen 105 yrs old Virgin Male in Japan before. He told me the secret of his longevity was not dating and mating with J women.

  • -1

    xandirules

    >

    Most animals when placed in crowded, stressful conditions cease breeding. Humans are no different. >

    Bull's eye!!

  • 2

    Cos

    if you don’t meet the love of your life at school or university, there’s a strong chance it might never happen.

    That's my father's theory that if the man wasn't trapped in marriage-career-kids hell very young, he would mature and he would have the wisdom to stay away from it lifelong. He proposed when he was...14.

    Everyone is “nice”—but using it as the basis for marriage?

    Surely it's a necessity for a marriage not turning into insanity. Most people are not nice at all, they put on a nice face when needed. You see them 10 minutes a day, they greet you nicely. Or you work with them, they stay pleasant like they stay well groomed. You see your so dear friends 2 hours a week, they make an effort to be pleasant to you. But them if you lived with them would they still be nice ? Many mentally harass, bully and beat their spouse. And young Japanese people know that well, because they have seen it at home, their own parents.

    Around a table of Japanese citizens of mixed gender, sex does not exist.

    And in other country, when you go to a dinner that turns into orgy before the dessert ?

  • 1

    Steve Christian

    So many fallacies. So many misconceptions. So many assumptions. So many stereotypes. Just GAAAAAAAHHHH!!!

    For example: " In such an apparent and blatantly sexual society,"

    Compared to where? I am sure Japanese think the same thing of western societies when they visit. And the evidence: "Only the other day I pulled up alongside a car while waiting at the traffic lights and glanced over, only to discover a guy watching full frontal penetration on his dashboard DVD screen. It was 11am. "

    That one guy does not represent Japan. Neither would ten more like him. The only reason why you don't see that more in western countries is because they would get arrested fast. Also, I am not even Japanese, and I have to say that I RESENT the writing of the term "randy Asians". What a load of dung! And such disgusting cultural relativism in this entire piece anyway.

    So much more to say, but I want to hit this one especially hard: "I asked some 24-year-old Japanese males what they consider to be most important when dating the opposite sex. The response came back: “She has to be nice.”

    You asked for THE most important thing. You got the ONE answer you asked for. You then go on from there to say: "When intelligence, a sense of humor, and similar interests fail to hold any importance,..." Well HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD! You ask for number one on the list, that is what you get! It does not mean that EVERY OTHER THING IN THE UNIVERSE holds no importance. Just GAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

  • 4

    kurisupisu

    In my area, on a night out in town, there are 100s of Chinese,Korean.Japanese girls all ready to offer the solitary office worker some sexual relief for less than 5000 yen a time.

    Is it any wonder that Japanese men are not getting married?

    Cheap sex is available..............

  • -2

    badsey3

    The problem with that is that "cheap sex" doesn't really satisfy the human need to be close to others and have family. It is more of satisfying a single sexual addiction that has been falsely placed in your mind by media to gain profit. The more you hang around the anti-family crowd the more you become poisoned by anti-family (addictive) thoughts.

    Many people just do not feel well and energized by their lives. Relationships take energy and these people do not have it. Could be fast food, working too much, past emotional issues, poor liver/pancreas f(x) due to toxins etc. Number one issue in my mind is poor eating - you must eat well to feel well. Lots of organic vegetables are needed to stay healthy and fresh.

    Number 1 step to health: (besides eating well) -get rid of those amalgam (mercury) tooth fillings and go ceramic. They are a constant source of mercury exposure and weaken bones, damage lungs (mercury is volatile), and damage the liver and kidneys.

  • 1

    TrevorPeace2

    Gunma prefecture wasn't on my 5-week May-June tour itinerary, and still isn't. Guess I won't miss much.

  • 2

    Steve Christian

    The problem with that is that "cheap sex" doesn't really satisfy the human need to be close to others and have family.

    The truth is somewhere between those two extremes. People want to date for a few years generally, not make every partner a spouse.

    And while I would not term the desire to have a new prostitute every time as "sexual addiction", I do agree its not the road to happiness for most people. Like I say, dating someone for a few years. You get the intimacy, but ultimately many of us want some freshness eventually. For so many, the idea of complete monogamy until death is just a much a road to unhappiness.

    I guess my biggest tip for you is to stop treating humanity as if we all clones with no variety in relationship needs and desires.

  • -2

    humanrights

    I dont have a problem in this area, haha You just have to be daring!

  • 3

    Steve Christian

    I think its too easy to knock Japanese men for not being very overt with Japanese women. Ever have any experience trying to talk to a Japanese woman you did not know outside of a club, for even an totally legit reason? Most of them, if they were carrying a pile of boxes and you opened the door for them, would not even give you a cursory "arigatou". If you jumped in front of one and prevented her from falling into an open manhole, she would keep quietly walking while you explained the situation, and never look back. In fact, just getting any Japanese person that you know to waive or acknowledge you in a chance meeting can be like pulling teeth.

    Japan is unfriendly, and a big reason is because women tend to treat most of the men around them as psycho-stalkers for some reason I have not figured out yet. Just trying to get a smile or eye contact from a stranger is a very disheartening experience. Japanese are just reaping what they sow.

  • -1

    Francis Urquhart

    This is remarkably similar to another recent thread so it is bound to elicit the same responses in the comments from the same people. Anyway, the Japanese, by and large, only get married to have children and then mainly because it is expected of them. It's unsurprisng they have no soul and the women are so shallow. Now they are getting slightly more westernized they are seeing that they don't really need all the hassles of being married to another machine, not to mention the financial burden in times when careers are not set in stone as they used to be. And we all know how nasty Japanese women get once they've got that ring on and popped out a couple of sprogs. No thank you! better to go to a pinku, get your rocks off and get on with life. It's cheaper in the long run too!

  • 3

    alarmclockcoffee

    I think a lot of it just has to do with options, particularly for men. There used to be a lot more social pressure to get married. Once a man is financially independent from his parents, why would he want to take on the obligation of a wife and kids? Doing so is incredibly expensive here and he will be working to death, living on a small allowance, and having no retirement savings. Plus, a great majority of marriages are very unhappy and the woman is just looking for a meal ticket.

    The other option is to stay single, enjoy the fruit of his earnings, travel, enjoy nightlife, and save money. If he lives in Tokyo, there are plenty of available women and hobbies to pursue on the weekends. Aside from men who have a strong desire to have children, I'm actually amazed that any man would choose to get married considering the financial liability and constraint on personal freedom.

    I have many single male friends, both Japanese and foreign, who have absolutely no desire to get married. They date a lot, but don't want to spend the rest of their lives paying for wife and kids who probably won't be there in their old age anyway.

  • 2

    Tamarama

    Whilst she makes some accurate general observations about life in Japan, she also is completely off the mark with others, and to my way of thinking, Japanese date and mate just fine.

    In such an apparent and blatantly sexual society

    Wow. Japan isn't even close to being as overtly sexual as places like the UK, the US and Australia. Places where it is now common to see young women walking around in cut off shorts that look like knickers and have their breasts virtually popping out from their low cut tops - bras showing n' all. Young guys are pumped up to look like the front cover of a body building mag and wear as little as they can to advertise it. Not to mention how they behave on a night out. Japan is nowhere near this - not even close. And this is just one example - there are many, many more. Japan is much more modest, much more discreet.

    In terms of marriage - Japan is probably undergoing a slow shift in the way it thinks about marriage, kids, work, but old thinking still governs much of the decision making, so a lot of it is pragmatic based on timing and social constraints and constructs. Japan is deceptive - it often appears to be one thing but in actuality is entirely different, and this is one of the aspects that infuriates foreigners (plenty of them here).

    But make no mistake - when a woman wants to get married and date, she will make it happen. I have just witnessed that very thing with an friend of mine. After waiting for several years for her partner to propose, he in fact did the complete opposite and split up with her. So, she turned on the charm offensive and is both engaged and pregnant to a new suitor within the space of a year and a half.

  • -1

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    Japan needs to make more romantic comedies, more movies about love.. romance.. happiness.. joy of family or sensual holidays in Hawaii making love on the beach. From what I see.. young girls who come to Hawaii seem to have no problem having high birth rate and babies who get US Citizenship.. hmmmm. Japanese men and women tend to be reserved socially to say the least and now people would rather text than talk or interact so it will only get worse in urban areas. There need to be more social spaces.. coffee shops or bars.. less restaurants so people can go to different places in a night looking for love.. without always having to eat a meal. I had a friend tell me that in the big city.. you only get what you pay for if you want sex and it is all negotiable.. that shocked me. Not allowing dancing in clubs does not help people get together or show what interact. Girls waiting later in life to get married would rather shop and go out with girlfriends.. and buy $20,000 bags than look for love... and men dont want to marry a shopaholic, who does not cook and does not want to be a mother.. Some women should work and not just look for some weak guy who will work til he dies at his desk just to take care of them. Also women can have a career as some men make good house husbands who can work on line at home. If the stigma of being a single mother were not so shameful.. they girls could have grandparents care for kids or find ways to work an on line business until they find a good mature man who loves her and her child. It also is a matter of who has the babies.. not everyone should have kids, some should have to take a test...and test genetics. The future it is not a labor intensive society.

    There is also a danger in Japanese women not having children as men might turn to importing women who love to live Japan and have many children. But then soon in a few generations everyone would be Filipino. Back to the movie idea.. a breeder corporation could select genetically superior Japanese women who would be paid well only to breed through artificially insemination and the babies would then adopted to carefully selected families who can provide and educate them.

  • 0

    Kyle Alpert

    Much of the commentary hit the nail on the head: Japanese men simply aren't conditioned to find the reality of dealing with women amusing, entertaining, or otherwise satisfying. Its a common narrative in both Western & Japanese media: If a woman can't charm, she tries to trap; if she cant trap, she tries to sabotage you or your options. Men here simply have no illusions about things. And Hollywood/propaganda can only affect desires not rational evaluations, hence the increasing popularity of fantasy women (maids, AKB48, virtual girlfriends, etc.).

  • -1

    sighclops

    It's simple. The soushoku-ification of men in Japanese society. We have the kudaranai Japanese media to thank for that! Seriously though, countless women have told me that this is a serious problem.

  • -1

    Onniyama

    75% of them never look up from their smartphones. How are they ever going to meet someone? Every Japanese guy I know hits the sex shops, without exception. Lots of sex going on, just no procreation.

  • -1

    Nessie

    For the Japanese, the approach of a stranger is an act of almost biblical transgression.

    But if you do happen to approach one, the chance of getting to know is not negligible. And that's "know them" in the Biblical sense.

  • -1

    Thomas Proskow

    I think the middle of the article has hit the nail on the head...... Japanese working culture.

    Most people fail to realize that their are more important things in life than careers.

    Hell, most Japanese men are taught that to enjoy life too much is "being selfish".

    Procreation and families mean too much time away from the office.

  • 1

    dcog9065

    I've only lived in Tokyo so I can't speak for other areas in Japan or in areas other than where I usually go in Tokyo and who I know, and certainly not the mountains of Gunma, but this article is fairly inaccurate as it generalises too much. Whenever I go clubbing, there is always healthy competition in picking up girls. Indeed, often the biggest competition is from Japanese dudes when chasing girls.

    Regarding marriage, living in Tokyo, it's just too damn expensive to have kids. Considering that there is scientific truth to a woman's chances of miscarriage increasing over the age of 35, how can anyone really afford to get married and have kids before their mid-30s in supposedly the world's most expensive city? Obviously out in the countryside, couples get married much younger and have, on average, more children, however Japan is over three-quarters urban so you have to consider the life-style sacrifices that have to be made in order to have children on an average urban Japanese income (Hint: many, many sacrifices).

    There is a mention of a correlation between falling fertility rates and density, and, although I largely agree, look at Germany; Birth rates have been falling steadily for years, population is declining, plus it has no Paris, London or Moscow-style mega-city to speak of. Also look at Sweden, Finland, Norway, South Korea, etc. I think one of the major causes that you failed to hit on the perceived falling birth rate is that it pretty much the same as northern European developed countries, however there is not net immigration into Japan whereas there is in most developed countries in the world.

    In all honesty, I want to get married and have kids, but just not in Japan due to a probable decrease in quality of life.

  • 0

    AKBfan

    Birthrate declining in most modern developed countries. Typically happens as countries get more affluent and crowded.

  • 0

    Kabukilover

    The problem with that is that "cheap sex" doesn't really satisfy the human need to be close to others and have family.

    Cheap sex is better than paying for it. Also, if the person you are having sex with is not Mr. or Ms right, at least that person is Mr or Ms right now. I agree that the best sex is in a loving relationship. The Kuma Sutra said that long ago: through one partner you can experience a thousand partners. (That's a loose and modernized paraphrase.) And family? Two can made a family as utopia need only "population: two" as the song says. When the magic moment happens and you realize that you and the person in bed with you are meant for each other it is the end of loneliness in urban society. That may be a secondary reason for not wanting children--the fear of having to share your loved one with another being.

    There has never been anything like modern urban society the question of how it will affect future demographics is still open.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    Between us we had produced a total of a dozen offspring, not enough to keep numbers up. 'Cept this wasn't Japan, it was the UK.

    Ahh, but what's the difference in immigration policies between Britain and Japan? Britain can make up the difference by naturalizing more immigrants. Japan?

  • 0

    sfjp330

    cog9065Feb. 25, 2013 - 03:52PM JST Regarding marriage, living in Tokyo, it's just too damn expensive to have kids. Considering that there is scientific truth to a woman's chances of miscarriage increasing over the age of 35, how can anyone really afford to get married and have kids before their mid-30s in supposedly the world's most expensive city? Obviously out in the countryside, couples get married much younger and have, on average, more children, however Japan is over three-quarters urban so you have to consider the life-style sacrifices that have to be made in order to have children on an average urban Japanese income (Hint: many, many sacrifices).

    Any working parent in Japan knows child care is an economic issue. The ability to find and pay for good day care has a big influence on whether parents work for pay and how many children they decide to have. Japan has a problem of low fertility rates, but at the same time, they want to bring more women into the workforce. To do this, J-goverment need to subsidize and expand day care facilities to give financial support to families with children in the major cities. Many young Japanese mothers would love to have another baby, but finding day care is so difficult that most families can't imagine handling that juggle. Unless there is more support from the government, it's difficult to imagine having a second child. But with the tight goverment budget, the expansion of affordable day care center will move slowly, where it does not have any impact on increase of fertility rates.

  • 0

    25psot

    This is very serious because by 2125 Japan may become ghost islands at present birth rate.

  • 0

    Stremon

    Great article, well written and so true ! :)

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