More than forty per cent of young singletons in Japan are virgins, according to a new study that highlights concerns about the country’s demographic challenges. Japan already suffers from the world’s oldest population and a shrinking birthrate, with the government struggling to incentivise marriage and parenthood.
Now a survey of unmarried people aged 18 to 34 found that around 42 per cent of men and 44.2 per cent of single women had never had sex.
The study is carried out by Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security every five years.
The country’s government has worked hard to boost the birthrate in recent years, providing incentives such as support for child care and tax breaks.
The new data however indicates, that, if anything Japanese men and women are growing apart.
The last time the study was conducted in 2010, only 36.2 per cent of men and 38.7 percent of women said they were virgins.
Nearly 90 per cent of the respondents said they want to get married “sometime in the future.”
But 30 per cent of the 2,706 men sampled and 26 per cent of the 2,570 female respondents said they were not currently looking for a relationship.
“They want to tie the knot eventually. But they tend to put it off as they have gaps between their ideals and the reality,” Futoshi Ishii, head researcher for the study, told Japan Times. “That’s why people marry later or stay single for life, contributing to the nation’s low birthrate.”
An organisation called Virgin Academia, set up by the non-profit organisation White Hands, now offers lectures focusing on how to establish healthy relationships, as well as activities such as nude life drawing classes.
The lack of sexual activity can seem at odds with a society saturated with sexual images, from television and manga comics to city billboards.
But recent years have seen a shift in traditional family structures, and a protracted economic slowdown as a global powerhouse, which has reportedly resulted in many men struggling to hold down secure, full-time jobs.