It is well known that Japan faces a demographic crisis, as it's aging population (more than 1 in 4 over 65 years old) drags on economic potential. But at the other end of the age spectrum, Japan has a bigger problem: as Bloomberg's Emily Greenhouse calls it - a libido crisis. The birthrate is falling fast. By 2060, the population is expected to go down by a third, and, by 2100, if trends continue, by 61%. Simply put, there is not enough procreation. We previously noted the fact that young Japanese has stopped having sex, but the situation has got worse and government and economists are looking for solutions: from imposing "handsome taxes" to make it easier for uglier men to get laid, to changing women's attitudes towards sex as "bothersome." However, we suspect this phrase sums up the 'virtual' problem best, "I want to tell them that human women are also great fun!"
There are many headwinds to deflation-monster-fighting Abe's plans to bring Japan back from the ledge but perhaps the biggest one is the demographic disaster. As Japan News reports, the decline in Japan's population set another record in 2012 with the number of deaths exceeding births for the sixth year in a row. Records were broken everywhere. The number of babies born in the nation in 2012 fell by 13,705 from the previous year to hit a new low of 1,037,101 and while a total fertility rate of 2.0 children per woman will maintain the population at a stable level. Japan’s rate has continued to fall since dropping below 2.0 in 1975.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths in 2012 hit a record high of 1,256,254, increasing by 3,188 from the previous year. The greying of Japan continues and worse still, the young, for many reasons, are not having children as the number of women in their 20s who had a child in 2012 decreased by 16,200. Will the fourth arrow of Abenomics be a state-sponsored unprotected sex-a-thon?
And now as Bloomberg reports, in 2014, aware of the dangers of becoming a nation of old folks, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set aside 3 billion yen ($30 million) for programs aimed at boosting the birthrate, including matchmaking programs.
But in Japan, the worry is about a libido crisis. The birthrate is falling fast. By 2060, the population is expected to go down by a third, and, by 2100, if trends continue, by 61 percent. In 2011, sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those of baby diapers. It’s an urgent national problem: there isn’t enough procreation.
To examine Japanese attitudes toward sex, the Japan Family Planning Association interviewed 3,000 subjects, both male and female, about their sex lives. The group found that 49.3 percent of participants (48.3 percent of men, 50.1 percent of women) had not had sex in the past month. 21.3 percent of married men said they were too tired after work (versus 17.8 percent of women). Of men, 15.7 percent answered that they were no longer interested, after having children. 23.8 percent of women said sex was “bothersome.”
There are a number of diagnoses for this aversion to the bedroom. Morinaga Takuro, an economic analyst and TV personality, believes this has something to do with attractiveness. He has suggested a “handsome tax”: “If we impose a handsome tax on men who look good to correct the injustice only slightly, then it will become easier for ugly men to find love, and the number of people getting married will increase.”
Takuro writes a lament for the men in love with “2D female characters from anime and manga.” He expressed, in the Asahi Shimbun, “I want to tell them that human women are also great fun!” Technology, of course, gets blame: virtual worlds, not to mention porn.
But many, especially alarmed to see that more than 20 percent of men between 25-29 say they have little interest in sex, see the low interest in sex as part of economic depression. A Japanese columnist named Maki Fukasawa observes an increase in a group of men he’s dubbed “herbivores”: heterosexual guys who, in contrast to “carnivorous” businessmen, live without expression of sexuality. Angelika Koch, a Cambridge University scholar, author of Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy, sees “a subversion of the traditional male role of the Japanese 'salaryman': the corporate male in suit and tie who dedicates his life to his company as breadwinner for his family, the sexually assertive man who spends his evenings drinking with colleagues at hostess clubs and bars.”
Whatever the case, it’s an urgent government concern.
Japan's under-40s appear to be losing interest in conventional relationships. Millions aren't even dating, and increasing numbers can't be bothered with sex. For their government, "celibacy syndrome" is part of a looming national catastrophe. Japan already has one of the world's lowest birth rates. As The Guardian previously reported, 45% of Japanese women aged 16-24 are "not interested in or despise sexual contact". More than a quarter of men feel the same way.
Is Japan providing a glimpse of all our futures? Many of the shifts there are occurring in other advanced nations, too. Across urban Asia, Europe and America, people are marrying later or not at all, birth rates are falling, single-occupant households are on the rise and, in countries where economic recession is worst, young people are living at home...