Why Young People in Japan Aren’t Having Sex
Japanese adolescents are opting out of sexual behavior.
Young people in America often seem obsessed with dating, relationships, and sex. From hookups to friends-with-benefits to cohabitating to children before marriage, today’s couples aren’t afraid to make their own rules and create their own version of ‘happily ever after.’
However, sexual freedom and lack of inhibition in the bedroom isn’t a phenomenon that has spread worldwide. In fact, in Japan, young people seem firmly resolved to avoid sex and relationships altogether. The country is in the middle of what is being called a ‘celibacy epidemic.’
Not only are many young Japanese men and women single, but they are opting out of the pursuit of love altogether. 61% of single men and 49% of single women report that they are not dating, and 45% of women said that they despised by the thought of sexual contact. 25% of men said they felt the same way.
Many people blame this new celibacy trend on the changing social structures in Japan. Japanese women have finally been given the chance to excel in the workplace, and many of them have dedicated their lives to their careers. Japanese men, on the other hand, have been struggling to find work and be successful in this brave new world. As a result, dating and sex have become very complicated. Many Japanese men feel emasculated by successful and powerful women, while Japanese women don’t want to date a man who won’t allow them to work outside the home.
Japan also heavily discourages cohabitation and children outside wedlock. Many people live at home with their parents until they wed (or if they wed) meaning that young people often don’t have the space or privacy to enjoy a sexual relationship. Unlike American teenagers who often move out and live on their own during college and beyond, Japanese adolescents don’t have the same freedom. They might also not have the same encouragement to move out since it’s not part of their cultural expectations.
While many people are concerned about this new celibacy trend (as Japan’s birth rate has been dramatically falling), others say that it is just a natural transitional phase. Japan is a very modern country in many ways, but also one that has many traditional ideas about sex and marriage. And, like Americans, Japanese adolescents are very reliant on technology and virtual-reality relationships. This has greatly stunted their ability to date real life, and in fact, 1/3 of people under the age of 30 say they have never even been on a date.
Is there a way to get young Japanese people interested in dating and sex again? I think the issue cannot be rectified until men and women find a way to get past their gender expectations. While traditional family roles are desirable to many people (men and women included), millions of women do want to work outside the home.
It might take time for Japanese to slowly become more comfortable with these new gender roles, but once they do, I think dating will become more desirable to both sexes once again. After all, intimacy can be very nuanced and complicated, and sometimes it takes a little work and patience to get through dry spells.
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