Japan is at a crisis – a sex crisis – one that is becoming a national concern.
Millenials and young adults are becoming more disinterested in sex and pursuing traditional relationships that are well below global averages. Ken Shimizu, an adult film actor, tweeted there were more Bengal tigers (endangered species) alive than male porn actors. Employment rates, economic uncertainty and rising housing costs have been linked to the cause of this, birthing the term the ‘single parasite’ (Masahiro Yamada of Tokyo Gakugei University).
A single parasite is person in their late 20s or early 30s who lives with their parents in order to enjoy a comfortable and carefree life. As one of the oldest populations, it has a shrinking birth rate with Japanese women married on average at age 24 and men 27 in 2002 increasing to 27.4 years and 29 years respectively. ‘The Japan Times’ have reported that around 70% of men and 60% of women between the ages of 18-24 years old are not in relationships, and around 42% of men and 44.2% of women are virgins (Tharoor and Post, 2016). Futoshi Ishii from Department of Population Dynamics Research explains this attitude among young people as: ‘they want to tie the knot eventually. But then to put it off as they have gaps between ideals and the reality…that’s why people marry later or stay single for life contributing to the nations low birth rate”.
Analysing these statistical trends and taking into account the rapidly ageing population, researches at the Tohoku University have even devised a countdown clock that claims by the 16th August in the year 3776, Japan will only have one remaining child in its population (i.e. under the age of 15 years), at which nations will people would slowly die out.
Looking back at Japan’s economic history, unemployment rates increased in the 1990s among middle age and young people who do not work full time known as ‘freeters’. The Japanese employment system has been unable to deal with the new age, companies lack flexibility to adjust, which has manifested to the reduction of job opportunities for young people, who have no option but to become economically dependent on their parents. Socioeconomic-driven views, collapse of the economy and inability of the country’s system to react have caused the rise of the single parasite.
The single parasite is a ridiculed symbol of weakening sense of self-reliance among the youth and growing dependence on their parents. Spending income on luxury items, travelling and entertainment are more desirable, with a loss of 2/3 of their income if the were living independently. With heavy media coverage to the declining birth rate, current Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe aims to raise the nations fertility rate from 1.4 to 1.8 by 2025, offering tax incentives for married couples and providing support and services for all stages of individual lives, from pregnancy, delivery and child-rearing (japan times).
Businesses such as match making services, retail stores and even sports teams are profiting, trying to fill the romantic void in society. Known as the ‘konkatsu’ boom, meaning ‘marriage hunting’ services such as match-making parties such as ‘konkatsu seats’ (Speed dating at a Hokkaido Nippon Fighters Japanese baseball game, where men and women sit next to each other during the game, where the seats rotate between innings) and prayer services (Imando Shrine in Tokyo hold prayer services for single men and women seeking good luck in marriage) are of abundance.
Left: Toyota Motor ‘Kirobo Mini‘, 2016 Right: Triumph International ‘Konkatsu Bra‘ 2009
Even products such as the ‘Konkatsu bra’ (designed by Triumph International Japan, which has an in built clock under the bra cups that counts marriage deadline. By inserting the engagement ring into a heart shaped box between the cups, it stops ticking and congratulatory wedding march begins to play) are being developed. Toyota has even released a robot called ‘Kirobo Mini’ designed to be a companion for the growing number of women left childless by the aging population (Inada, 2009).
Marriage and children are becoming luxury indulgences, Japanese society have been rattled by the economic collapse in the past decade completely changing the attitude and behaviours of an entire generation. Will Japan survive this drought in love, sex and marriage? Will it be a child-less future?
Tharoor, I. and Post, W. (2016) Sexless society: Japan has a worrying number of virgins, government finds. Available at: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/sexless-society-japan-has-a-worrying-number-of-virgins-government-finds (Accessed: 27 October 2016).
Inada, M. (2009) Japan has a new name for the mating game: Konkatsu. Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124623617832566695 (Accessed: 27 October 2016).
tisho (2015) Nearly 40% of single Japanese not interested in romance: Survey | the Japan times. Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/22/national/social-issues/nearly-40-of-single-japanese-not-interested-in-romance-survey/#.WBCCqBJ95E5 (Accessed: 27 October 2016).
Today, J. and Co, Gp. (2016) 8 years into ‘konkatsu’ boom, lifelong single population continues to grow. Available at: https://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/8-years-into-konkatsu-boom-lifelong-single-population-continues-to-grow (Accessed: 27 October 2016).