Reasons Japan Became a Sexless Society and What It Means for the Future

Studies suggest that Japan is is shifting towards a sexless society. Life in Japan has changed drastically since the 1990s, and a growing portion of society seems to be struggling to find happiness in so-called "traditional" relationships. Instead, a percentage of the population is now choosing to let sex fall by the wayside. Japanese youth culture is shifting, and more and more young people are simply opting to do without the physical aspects of intimacy.

This sexless Japan might be the result of a young generation of people who have largely decided to forego the same path their parents took in favor of striking out on their own. But how Japan became a sexless society is worth delving into, especially when you consider the possible trends the country is following. Some experts suggest that Japan’s increasingly sexless society could be the sign of a future global movement.

  • Inflation Has Made Adulthood Prohibitively Expensive

    Inflation Has Made Adulthood Prohibitively Expensive
    Photo: Moyan_Brenn / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Since the mid-'90s, Japan’s economy has stagnated. As a result, inflation has driven prices up on everything, including property. That has made it increasingly difficult for Japanese families to cover costs, leading to the increase of extended-family homes. Kids are living at home longer and longer, because they can’t afford to move out on their own.

    Young adults are also waiting longer to get married and have children.

  • Women Often Have to Choose Between A Career And A Family

    Being a working mom in Japan is difficult. The country is notorious for the long hours required of its employees, which makes it extremely difficult to perform a job and raise a family.

    According to some statistics, around 70 percent of Japanese women are essentially forced to quit working after having their first child.

  • Many Twentysomethings Just Don't Date

    A 2013 study conducted by the research and development wing of Japanese insurance company Meiji Yasuda Life revealed that 30 percent of Japanese people in their twenties had absolutely no dating experience.

    Beyond dating, sexual intimacy seems to be on the decline. Another 2013 study - this one conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association - found that 45 percent of women and more than 25 percent of men aged 16-24 "were not interested in or despised sexual contact."

  • Romantic Commitment Can Be Seen As A Burden

    In Japan, the purpose of marriage is often considered to be reproduction. An overwhelming number of young people - as much as 90 percent of young women - told Japan's Institute of Population and Social security that staying single was "preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like."

    That sense of commitment and marriage being a burden affects both men and women. When interviewed by The Guardian, 31-year-old Satoru Kishino said that dating was "too troublesome... I don't earn a huge salary to go on dates and I don't want the responsibility of a woman hoping it might lead to marriage."

  • It's Acceptable To Be A "Herbivore"

    Sexless men are becoming so common in Japan that there's even a term for them: soushoku danshi, which translates to "grass-eating men." Colloquially, they’re known as "herbivores." These generally heterosexual men describe themselves as sensitive and typically not interested in sex.

    Some experts suggest that the rise of herbivores is linked to Japan's rapid growth in the 1980s and '90s, which spawned more macho attitudes amongst the male population. After growth stagnated, men began exploring other lifestyles.

  • Virtual Girlfriends Are Supplanting Real Ones

    In 2010, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare found that 36 percent of Japanese males aged 16-19 had no interest in sex. That number doubled over the course of two years.

    Some of these men - known as otaku - choose to engage in relationships with virtual girlfriends, video and computer games that simulate real men and women. The number one reason given for preferring virtual relationships over real ones? It’s easier.

    "With real girlfriends you have to consider marriage," one interviewee said. "So I think twice about going out with a 3D woman."