Do the Japanese love their country

The question of love is secondary - Japan is becoming the land of singles

With low birth rates, Japan is aging faster than any other industrialized country. More and more young people are singles. Many would like to get married - if they could.

Mariko worries about her friend's sex life. “She wants a baby, but she and her husband never have sexual intercourse,” says the 44-year-old Japanese. "Her husband loves video games and food, but he is not interested in sex," she describes the complaints of her friend Yoko.

Mariko herself has no sex partner either, although she has long wanted a husband and a child. The two women are not isolated cases in their Japanese homeland, which is aging faster than any other industrial nation in the world, given the low birth rate.

Romantic relationships are on the decline in the world's third-largest economy - ahead of Germany - while the number of singles in Japan is increasing. "Around 25 percent of today's youth in Japan are expected to remain single and unmarried for their entire life," explains Professor Masahiro Yamada of Chuo University.

Every third Japanese person over 30 is single

The proportion of singles in the total Japanese population has risen dramatically over the past three decades. As a result, Japan has a dubious reputation for being a sex-gruff nation.

In 2015, according to a new study by the University of Tokyo, one in four women and one in three men were single in their late 30s. According to surveys, half of them have no interest in heterosexual relationships. Japan's media identify increasing virginity and a supposedly decreasing interest in sex and dating among young people.

There are more and more "herbivores". In Japan, this is the common term used to describe men who are physically and naturally tender, shy and gentle and who show no active desire for romantic relationships or sex. The opposite of this are the «carnivores».

Striving for traditional role models as an obstacle

So is a supposed loss of libido in Japan to blame for the low birth rate? According to scientists, the problem is more complex. "Japan is very obsessed with the traditional family image," explains Yamada, author of the book "Why Do Young People Become Conservative?"

Many young Japanese people aspired to the traditional distribution of roles, in which the man earns the money and the woman takes care of the house and children. During the boom years until the early 1990s, it was easier for young Japanese women to find a well-paid man.

The times have changed. In view of today's difficult economic situation in Japan, such a life is becoming increasingly rare. Nevertheless, the traditional ideal of the man as the sole breadwinner is being adhered to, said Yamada. As a result, many young Japanese women continued to live with their parents and waited for the dream partner.

The number of singles is increasing rapidly

“But for a large number of them, this ideal partner will never appear,” says Yamada. The result: many remained single. In 2015, according to researchers from the University of Tokyo, Japan already had 2.2 million more single women and 1.7 million more male singles between the ages of 18 and 39 than in 1992.

«After the age of 30 you are either married or single. Very few people in the older age groups are unmarried and in a relationship, ”writes Peter Ueda, an expert in epidemiology at the University of Tokyo, in the science journal“ PLOS ONE ”.

It would therefore suggest that the emphasis on marriage as the most socially acceptable form of relationship between adults is an "obstacle to the formation of romantic relationships in Japan," the scientist continues.

Livelihood is more important than love

According to the author Yamada, young Japanese people are increasingly meeting their sexual needs by visiting hostess or host clubs and so-called “maid cafes”, where Japanese women disguised as maids serve men who are often after sex.

Others preferred virtual intimacy, for example with characters from cartoons or raved about “idols”, people from pop culture who are popular primarily because of their appearance. According to the media, there is also a growing demand among Japanese women for sex toys for masturbation and porn for women.

Others, on the other hand, simply don't care about intimate relationships. In any case, the question of livelihood is often more important than that of love, explains Yamada. That is different in the West. Like him, the researchers working with Ueda see a connection between personal financial situation and relationship status.

Hope dies last

A new analysis of data from the Japanese National Institute of Population and Social Security Research from 1987 to 2015 suggests that lower incomes and precarious employment are disadvantages for men in the Japanese dating market, Ueda continues.

"If government policy directly addressed the situation of population groups with low incomes and low education, some people with a lack of job security or financial resources might have a new interest in dating," explains Haruka Sakamoto, public health expert and co-author of "PLOS ONE" -Study.

In the 2015 survey, more than half of singles who were not interested in relationships said they still hoped to get married at some point. Even Mariko has not yet completely given up hope of finding a partner for life at some point.

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