A third of young Japanese men and women have never dated

A new survey has found that a third of unmarried Japanese adults in their twenties, thirties, and forties have never been in a relationship.

As reported by Kyodo News:

At 34.1 percent, the ratio of single men and women who have never had a romantic relationship was at a record high since Recruit Holdings Co., a staffing service group, began conducting surveys on people’s views on marriage in 2017.

The figure of 25.6 percent for people not seeking marriage nearly matches the finding in last year’s gender equality survey by the Japanese government, which has been struggling to deal with the country’s low birth rate and labor shortage. But Recruit said the number was notably up from 2021 when it stood at 21.1 percent.

Never having dated is, of course, far from the same as not having sex. After all, what are sex workers for, and Japan has a huge number of them, and we also wonder if compensated dating would count as “dating” (which would change the numbers considerably, we imagine).

Surveys are always problematic and we have no detailed information immediately to hand about the methodology of this one (other than the fact that it was conducted in September and that the sample size was 1,200 unmarried adults). They should always be taken with several pinches of salt.

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The fact that these surveys about Japan’s putative sexlessness continue to appear in the mainstream media (see the one in December that claimed almost half of Japanese men in their twenties have never dated) either indicates that, for all their problems, the research is backing up a general trend, or that such surveys are being molded to fit this existing media narrative (and perhaps surveys that reveal a subtler or alternative situation do not see light of day when they cross an editor’s desk).

We guess the real issue is people in their twenties, who should be ones doing lots of dating. But of these, 19.4% of women and 23.7% of men said having a romantic relationship is “a waste of time and money.”

This response was notably also the case for women in their 30s, up to 23.6% from 14.6% in the previous survey in 2021.

Among the respondents in their 20s, 44.3% of females and 34.6% of males said they would only date someone for the purpose of finding a marriage partner.

This also matches our experience of some women and men, who don’t like the idea of casually dating and instead treat it like a task that should lead to marriage. This affects which dating apps they use — their are ones specifically for finding a spouse — or they may prefer to use a partner introduction service that is designed to result in marriage. Naturally, this affects their attitude toward sex in a relationship too.

46.1% of respondents said they do want to marry, a quarter have no intention of marrying, and even the numbers of those who do are on the decline, down from 55.4% in 2017 and 52.6% in 2021.

Why don’t people want to date? Well, Covid and the acutely online nature of our lives might be partly to blame here. The aforementioned size of the Japanese sex industry might also mean it is too easy for men to satisfy themselves without the rigmarole of dating. Likewise for the huge size of the male sex toys market in Japan.

But why are they against settling down and marrying? Well, the government has to take some of the blame for the stagnant economy, especially low Japanese wages, since 42.5% of men said they don’t want to marry because of the “financial strain of married life.” For the women, it was different, with the largest reason being they did not want to compromise their freedom and independence (though we expect that refers ultimately more to having children, since just getting married to a man should not — in theory — curtail your independence per se in this day and age).

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  • Mike Travels January 10, 2024

    fuck that’s so weird. what’s wrong with this new generation? how can you be a man with a heart and penis and not want to romance and make love to women? it’s what life is all about

  • Dppkkk January 10, 2024

    there are no girls left to date in Japan, most of them have entered porn industry.

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